Sustainability governance

Sustainability governance

"Main articles: sustainability, sustainability science, sustainability accounting, sustainable development"

Sustainability governance is the means by which the objectives of sustainability are put into effect - the way they are managed. Sustainability science provides the critical framework for sustainability, sustainability accounting provides the quantitative information needed for decision-making, and "sustainability governance" is the process of decision implementation.Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Board. 2003. "Ecosystems and human well-being: a framework for assessment." Island Press, London.]

Dealing with scale

In the formal political process sustainability policy is implemented in exactly the same way as any other policy. However, governance (the implementation of decisions) is not confined to the formal political process of government. Sustainability governance is carried out at many (all) formal and informal levels of human organization acting, in turn, on many levels of ecological/environmental organization over many scales of space and time.

Levels of human organization

"Main article: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment"
The levels or contexts of human organization referred to in sustainability science are many [ [] Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, see Conceptual Framework ] - from the world community to the individual. As a formal decision-making process it could, for example, refer to the United Nations, United States government, a local council, or the school sustainability committee). We also organize ourselves into economic sectors like agriculture, construction and manufacturing. Then there are different organized (albeit loosely) activities like fishing, plumbing, and gardening. Decisions relating to sustainability can also be made through informal networks of people at work or as common interest groups or through connection “on-line”. In short, “levels of organization” refers to any form of human organization capable of decision-making and that, most importantly, also includes the individual.Clearly the levels of greatest interest to sustainability governance are those that can make most impact on sustainability, but it is also important that they can be subjected to sustainability accounting. For example, political guidance can come from the broadest international political base, the United Nations, through instruments like the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and the Millennium Development Goals, but the significance of “groundswell” decisions of individuals, local councils and informal groups should never be underestimated. In practice the major organization levels are:::::::: Globe – Nation – Region/State – Local community – Household - IndividualAny level of organization with a financial budget can be subjected to an input-output analysis that relates environmental impact to embodied resource intensity.
Governance performance assessments at the country level are given by the Environmental Performance Index and Environmental Sustainability Index.

Levels of ecological/environmental/resource impact

The many levels of human organization operate one many scales of resource use and environmental impact – in fact any area or range over which a disturbance or change occurs. Again, it is important that the object being investigated or managed can be subjected to some form of sustainabiliy analysis and accounting. In practice some spatial scales are used more readily than others so, for example, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment uses mostly the planet, region (a component of an ecological land classification system or a major politico-economic bloc), the drainage basin, and the local community as spatial scales for ecological and socio-economic processes.

So, for example, water use can be measured at any level of human organization from global to individual. Because water is not evenly distributed across the globe the environmental consequences will vary from place to place – but global supplies are finite and when they are threatened then global action is needed. The drivers of resource use and environmental impact will also vary from one location to another and they may be direct (like mining) or indirect, like the human demand for metals. At the global level and in the most general sense environmental impacts are generated by population, consumption and technology. But change can also be initiated by minor changes in individual lifestyle. The resource impact of manufacturing a particular product can be managed in terms of its contribution to a particular economic sector, or in terms of the manufacture of that product, or by managing consumer demand for the product.

ee also

* sustainability science
* sustainability accounting
* sustainability
* list of environmental organisations
* list of environmental agreements (international)
* list of sustainability topics
* sustainable development


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