Be the Change: Use of industrial term “Sustainability” misses Life on Earth

I received an email from a new Nuffield scholar, and immediately had to delve into the limitations of using the term “sustainability,” a popular word with the likes of Walmart and Bayer. The scholar wrote about inquiring into the quantitative aspects (ROCE, profit, cash flows etc.) and the qualitative aspects (carbon footprint, community contribution, enhanced biodiversity etc.) that enhance the ‘triple bottom line:’ people, planet and profit. While this may be suitable for industry, I have been arguing since doing my Nuffield study (see picture, blog) that it is time to shift to a consciousness of restorative, regenerative … resiliency, especially in sectors that are integrated into natural systems.

I immediately want to challenge you on limiting yourself to the triple bottom line. This was some of what my Nuffield was about. The triple bottom line, I believe, is why the world is in such disarray. Plus, it makes for a very wobbly milking stool.

An apple

I have tried to work with a much more solid “five legged” model – 4 pillars with a central “leg”, or even better, a pentagram, as we see modeled in Nature. What those other two pillars are, is still up for debate, and since agriculture and rural are so much part of living systems, Nature likely holds the answer. We need to integrate innovation, through the processes of biomimicry, wicked problems, U Theory (Otto Scharmer), etc. And so, I use 5 Ps (not 3 Ps), or 5 Es (earth, economics, ecosystem, empowerment, enabling, ethical … ) – same idea, to bring in more human components, or those that better reflect what humanity is (also up for debate) and has to offer as a species.

When we put our thinking into just the 3 Ps, it very much is “bottom line” thinking, like sitting on concrete on a cold winter day. There is so much more that needs to be included, embraced, entered into, if we are to begin to make a difference, and make the planet a better place to live for the long term, where all Life is acknowledged… Farming for a Future, because we want one!

Published by Kaytlyn Creutzberg, BSc, NSch, MA

#SayItLikeItIs: Kaytlyn writes not only about applying a spiritual care therapeutic model to farming, but also how collective cultural narratives impact the choices we make that result in a pervasive "don't care" attitudinal construct towards Earth and Her landscapes. (formerly Gayl)

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