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concentriclevelsThe term “Sustainability” has been tossed about for many years but defining exactly what it is, despite the apparent obviousness of the term, seems to be a bit more challengingi. Sustainability needs to be considered in at least three primary categories though there are many additional aspects, subsets and other concerns that must also be addressed, analyzed and prepared for. Projects should be economically and financiallyii sustainable, environmentally (and ecologically) sustainable and socially sustainable with a goal of complete Systemic Sustainability, if they are to be capable of providing long-term solutions to the problems facing the world today. The problems facing the human race are systemic in nature and ever-changing. Thus, not only do the solutions need to be systemic in response, but also adaptive so as to be able to provide long-term solutions with a minimal detrimental impact.

i Sustainability is most easily defined as the ability to provide for the basic needs and desires of today, without inhibiting or impeding the ability of future generations to do the same.

ii Economics is a social science that studies the production, consumption and distribution of goods and services, with an aim of explaining how economies work and how their agents interact. Finance focuses on the study of prices, interest rates, money flows and the financial markets. Thinking more broadly, finance seems to be most concerned with notions like the time value of money, rates of return, cost of capital, optimal financial structures and the quantification of risk.

Return to the Table of Contents for Whole System Sustainable Development

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