The Sustainability Compass

Imagine we’d know which way to navigate towards a sustainable development of our planet.

A planet which has boundaries – or with more positive words “a safe operation space for humans”. We must respect it. Yet, that is not enough. We must also seek to find socially just solutions. That is when we can speak of inclusive and sustainable development.

“When crossing unknown territory, a compass can be pretty handy. Achieving sustainable development for nine billion people has to be high on the list of humanity’s great uncharted journeys.” Oxfam is offering us that compass which should help us steer efficiently and without any more catastrophes through the coming years.

On the outside, the doughnut-compass shows nine processes (put together by earth-system scientists Rockström et al) like climate regulation, nitrogen cycle and biodiversity loss, all of which are crucial for steering free of any big icebergs. “Together, the nine boundaries constitute an environmental ceiling – what their authors call ‘a safe operating space for humanity’”.

Now, “how about combining planetary boundaries together with the concept of social boundaries?” That is when we look at the inner cycle. Here it is all about a solid social foundation on we build our system “below which lies unacceptable human deprivation.” The most important concept to take into account here are human rights. This is the space where we hope to see great developments at the Rio +20 meeting.

Watch the following video to learn more:

The project tries to prove that it’s “wealth not poverty which is putting this planet under pressure” showing for example that giving food to all the starving would only need 1% of the total global food supply. Similarly, “bringing electricity to the 19% of people who currently lack it could be achieved with less than a 1% increase in global CO2 emissions”.

The whole concept is quite easy, really: “Between the social foundation and the planetary ceiling lies an area – shaped like a doughnut – which is the safe and just space for humanity to thrive in.” Read the full article to find where the needle of the compass is directing.


3 thoughts on “The Sustainability Compass

  1. The more you look into it, the more power and money/profit hungry large corporations are behind our exponential drive to spend, buy and own “stuff”. Their ability to sway entire governments with the promise of power and wealth is terrifying to say the least. Modification of our seed banks to ensure sterility to prevent “the masses” from being able to grow and propagate their own food and ownership of cropping seed reveals just how scary on a global scale this is becoming. I guess every downfall in society has come from revolution and those of us (about 99%) in the general populace who are not in the inner sanctum of great wealth and power can take back our choices by voting with our feet and our actions. We can support ethical smaller companies, we can “want” less and save more. We can use our money to facilitate change and we can live a simpler life so that others may simply live. The media, societal trends and mind set of our present generation is “Me” based. We need to learn the value of community and how important it is to our human psyche to belong to communities. Until we break the media hold on our generation we are going to be hard pressed to inform and educate modern society to the realities of our tenuous position on the earth. We are not omnipotent and we need to be made aware of this. We also need to see our humanity as a natural cycle that should be running smoothly within the framework of natures cycles of birth and decline. Humanity has brought itself to the brink with its need to elevate itself above all other things/processes and we are just going to have to learn the hard way that we do this at our own peril. Cheers for your great website. I will be following your posts and your comments and no doubt sharing your ideas and those you share with my fellow students and lecturer in my Diploma course

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