A System's Approach to Sustainable Development

A hundred years from now it will not mater what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove.....but the world may be different because I was important in the future life of a child.

Check out "Practice of Sustainable Community Development" a new book published by R. Warren Flint of Five E's Unlimited




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Sustainability Strategy Innovation
In these times of accelerating change and increasing competition, sustainability strategies are being sought by both the private and public sector. We believe this is occurring, in part, because of a wider recognition that change is constant, that major changes are occurring in the world, and that the ability to predict the future, based on traditional approaches, no longer works. Strategies for achieving sustainability represent a new approach. They are dynamic, adaptive, holistic and durable. And they are founded upon the science of sustainability which focuses on ecological limits.

Sustainable development explicitly recognizes the interconnections and relationships between economy, society and the environment. These are often seen as three forms of capital – economic, social and natural. In applying a systems approach to developing sustainability strategies, the emphasis of the work of Five E's Unlimited is on the ecological limits imposed on economy and society. The concept of sustainability speaks to the need for consideration of all forms of capital in community decision making, but places prime importance on the services of natural capital, environmental resources that are essential to all life on this planet.

Underpinning our work with communities is also a belief in the need for “permanent innovation,” an idea formulated originally for organizations but, in our opinion, also relevant to communities in which the need for creative adaptation is recognized. It is a mindset that provides an incubator for creative, sustainable solutions and which sees innovation as needing to be occurring continuously, as a matter of strategy, method, and habit. Innovation is a core value, is practiced as a core methodology, and produces improvement as a consistent output. It is really change in response to change or, by definition, evolution.

We can put you on this track through our systems approach to problems and to strategy development. We recognize problems as situations calling for systems redesign rather than things that need to be “solved.” We further recognize that in order for strategies or plans to make a lasting and significant contribution, they must be initiated, driven and completed by the community.

The skills we offer will be needed to deal with major changes which are occurring at a global level and at a rapid pace. To a large extent, we in the western world are buffered, through technology and relative prosperity, from hunger, poverty and other grim realities that much of the world is experiencing. We might expect however, that certain changes are going to be occurring abruptly and will be all-encompassing. The three trends of global climate change, peak oil, and natural resource depletion are too big to ignore. When sudden major changes occur, everything from family patterns and scientific frameworks to political systems and spiritual beliefs change in kind. How do we best deal with this?

What really guides our work is the desire to have the process be enriching and fun and that there be an understanding that sustainability is not about managing nature or people – only that we can influence community leadership and stewardship in a positive movement toward sustainability. This view, coupled with our system’s approach toward achieving sustainability, has demonstrated that Sustainability is much more than being “Green” or simply environmentally responsible.

Five E's Unlimited can help you recognize the many connected issues in our world and how the kinds of choices we make based upon this awareness affect the consequences of our actions (the 3 Cs). We will help you better understand the complexity, confusion, and perceived contradictions of many regarding the topic of sustainable development. Check out the rest of this site and explore the many ways Five E's can help you! With over 30 years of experience in sustainable development and environmental science, we assist clients to fully integrate their self-defined community and business goals into environmentally sound decisions.

Through our work with you, your path ahead will be clear, concise, and action-oriented. Check out what others say about our work.

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Last Update: 1/1/15
Web Author: Dr. R. Warren Flint