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SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: A MORE ACADEMIC DEFINITION

The sustainability crisis facing us has come about because we are consuming the World's stocks of natural, human and social capital faster than it is being produced. Unless we manage and carefully control the rate of this consumption, we will not be able to sustain these vital resource stocks in the long-term.

Action is needed at all levels…… by Governments, by huge corporations down to small businesses, to the way we develop land and buildings and use them, to fine grain local scale actions.

Policy makers now believe that by maintaining and trying to increase stocks of the capital assets that we use, we can live off the income without reducing and eroding the capital itself. But for this to happen it is the responsibility of everyone to manage these capital assets sustainably – that is, we need to manage them so that environmental resource streams do not disappear and our environments self-destruct by over-use imbalancing delicate eco-systems.

It is now recognised that there are FIVE TYPES OF SUSTAINABLE CAPITAL from where we derive the goods and services we need to improve the quality of our lives. These are:

NATURAL CAPITAL: Any stock or flow of energy and material within the environment that produces goods and services. Natural capital is the basis not only of production but of life itself! It includes: Resources - renewable and non-renewable materials; Sinks - that absorb, neutralise or recycle wastes and processes – e.g. climate regulation, climate change, CO2 emissions.

HUMAN CAPITAL: Consists of people's health, knowledge, skills and motivation. All these things are needed for productive work. Enhancing human capital through education and training is central to a flourishing economy.

SOCIAL CAPITAL: Concerns the institutions that help us maintain and develop human capital in partnership with others; e.g. families, communities, businesses, trade unions, schools, and voluntary organisations.

MANUFACTURED CAPITAL: Comprises material goods, or fixed assets which contribute to the production process rather than being the output itself – e.g. tools, machines and buildings.
FINANCIAL CAPITAL: Plays an important role in our economy, enabling the other types of Capital to be owned and traded. But unlike the other types, it has no real value itself but is representative of natural, human, social or manufactured capital; e.g. shares, bonds or banknotes.

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT is the best way to manage these capital assets in the long-term. It is a dynamic process through which organisations, communities and individuals can begin to achieve a balance between their environmental, social and economic activities.

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12 FEATURES OF A SUSTAINABLE SOCIETY CLICK HERE for more about SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT & ENABLING PROJECTS
Using the above FIVE CAPITALS model, a ‘sustainable society’ can be described, which is an ideal which we should all aim for. This contains a ‘12 features’ model, which can help with the sustainability of development projects.
If we invest appropriately in all capital stocks, AND achieve the flow of benefits, the statements set out below would be true. They represent the OUTCOME of a successful capital investment strategy for Sustainable Development - that is, a SUSTAINABLE SOCIETY.

of NATURAL CAPITAL:

1.  In their extraction and use, substances taken from the earth do not exceed the environment's capacity to disperse, absorb, recycle or otherwise neutralise their harmful effects (to humans and/or the environment)

2.   In their manufacture and use, artificial substances do not exceed the environment's capacity to disperse, absorb, recycle or otherwise neutralise their harmful effects (to humans and/or the environment)

3.  The capacity of the environment to provide ecological system integrity, biological diversity and productivity is protected or enhanced

of HUMAN CAPITAL:

4.  At all ages, individuals enjoy a high standard of health

5.  Individuals are adept at relationships and social participation, and throughout life set and achieve high personal standards of their development and learning

6.  There is access to varied and satisfying opportunities for work, personal creativity, and recreation

of SOCIAL CAPITAL:

7.  There are trusted and accessible systems of governance and justice

8.  Communities and society at large share key positive values and a sense of purpose

9.  The structures and institutions of society promote stewardship of natural resources and development of people

10. Homes, communities and society at large provide safe, supportive living and working environments

of MANUFACTURED CAPITAL:

11. All infrastructure, technologies and processes make minimum use of natural resources and maximum use of human innovation and skills

of FINANCIAL CAPITAL:

12. Financial capital accurately represents the value of natural, human, social and manufactured capital

Source: Thank you to the London Sustainability Exchange and Forum For the Future

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We hope that you enjoy our 'BE AWARE OF:' series of articles on Climate Change, Sustainable Development and the Spatial Planning System. The full list of BE AWARE OF: articles is:

CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE SUSTAINABLE REVOLUTION

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT & SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES: A DEFINITION

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: A MORE ACADEMIC DEFINITION

7 KEY CONCEPTS FOR A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE

THE UK SPATIAL PLANNING SYSTEM

NEW REQUIREMENTS FOR PLANNING APPLICATIONS

ENERGY, CO2 EMISSIONS & PLANNING APPLICATIONS

COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION & PLANNING APPLICATIONS

DESIGN AND ACCESS STATEMENTS

Please also see our SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT SERVICES

ENABLING PROJECTS is actively involved in applying SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT and SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES planning policy, through their wide range of planning and development work. We do hope that you will fully browse this website, possibly starting with the links below, and then CONTACT us for further in information.
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SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT SERVICES

TRACK RECORD

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