When assessing sustainability, emphasis is often on output indicators where focus is on sustainable economic growth, which satisfies social needs does not negatively influence the environment and ecosystems. While the feasibility of sustainable economic growth has been questioned, focus is often on what to do in order to develop into the right direction, the creation of win-win solutions as well as obtaining efficiency improvements.
However, as the bottom-line of sustainability is survival, an important direction of research is what not to do in order to prevent development into the wrong direction.
Sustainability and Resilience
Sustainability is often discussed using the concept of resilience – the extent to which a system can recover from outside shocks. However, when only recovering, the question is whether the system is prepared for unexpected, unknown challenges which may appear in the future and threaten its existence. The basic assumption is that we live in a world of imperfect information. Mankind has obtained an incredible amount of knowledge. This provides us with the illusion we know more, but the skeptic and humble scientist should be aware of the fact that we know only a bit more about a world which more complicated and where even more unknowns than many people ever imagined.
Professor Joost Platje