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Sustainability versus Sustained
Development by Means of a WIN Development Model
Lucio Munoz (Investigador
Independiente, University of British Columbia, Canadá)
Aparecido en SUSTAINABILITY REVIEW, Issue 1, September 6, 1999.
There cannot be global sustainability without local sustainability, or
vice versa. Hence, we need to think and act locally and globally in
sustainability terms, yet we have been thinking in "sustained
development" terms all this time. The winds of change, however, can
be heard on the horizon and they indicate the time to move beyond
sustained development approaches is coming soon. Common sense has
started to find solid ground, and therefore there is a need to present
sustainability thoughts in ways that can be easily understood,
especially at the local level. The goal of this contribution is to
present a qualitative, operational framework that can be used to point
out in simple terms the nature and structure of "sustainability" and
the implications of this concept compared to what we encounter
presently as more traditional "sustained development" thinking.
W = Dominant social w = dominated social
I = Dominant economic i = dominated economic
N = Dominant environmental n = dominated environmental
D = Development is present d = development is absent
Dominant = consider as an important variable where action is occurring
in the associated sector (social, economic, environmental).
dominated = not considered an important variable, passive where no
real action is occurring in the associated sector.
To simplify the presentation, Development(D) is defined here in terms
of three sources of development, Social(W), Economic(I), and
Environmental(N) development, as follows:
1) D = W + I + N
The above indicates that Development(D) takes place when Social
objectives(W), or Economic objectives(I), or Environmental
objectives(N), or any grouping of them is present in dominant or
"active" form. The key here is the "active" form, implying the taking
of actions in a particular sector (social, economic, environmental).
But also note that these are additive in nature (formula number 1),
suggesting that "development" can and does occur when any one of the
sector objectives is achieved. For example, traditional economic
development occurs often even when environmental quality is not of
There is no development(d) when Social objectives(w), Economic
objectives(i), and Environmental objectives(n) are all present in the
dominated or "passive" form at the same time. This is the anti-thesis
(opposite or opposing view) of the Development model in formula number
1), and which can be stated as follows:
2) d = win
Notice, that here, none of the elements of the system is in the active
or dominant form, but rather the "passive," implying no real action in
Optimal development model:
There is Optimal Development(D*) when all objectives, Social(W),
Economic(I), and Environmental(N), are present in dominant or active
form at the same time, which can be stated as follows:
3) D* = WIN
Therefore, Optimal Development(D*) is self-sustained development:
development supported by a WIN combination, representing equal action
consideration for all sectors simultaneously.
It is widely accepted that Sustainability(S) requires the equal
consideration of Social(W), Economic(I), and Environmental(N) actions
at the same time. Hence, Sustainability(S) is Optimal
Development(D*), which can be stated as follows:
4) D* = WIN = S
The above indicates that Sustainability(S) is the strictly WIN
position, where development is self-sustained.
Sustained development models:
Any model that deviates from the WIN position in formula number 4) is
a sustained model, a model that does not have a strictly WIN position.
Sustained models are different forms of sustainable development
models. In other words, sustained models or sustainable development
models can be understood as situations resulting from sustainability
failures, as it is explained below.
A. Deep development models:
Deep models arise when two components of the sustainability system are
present in dominated or passive form, such as the deep socialist
model(Win); the deep economic model(wIn); and the deep ecological
model(wiN). The dominant component in each of these models maximizes
development at the expense of the other components or sectors.
B. Development partnerships:
Partnership models come about when one component of the sustainability
system is in dominated or passive form, such as the Socio-Ecological
partnership model(WiN); the Socio-Economic partnership model(WIn);
and the Eco-Economic partnership model(wIN). In all these
partnerships, the partners maximized their objectives by exploiting
the non-partner, or passive sector. Note that the dominant
partnership in development today is the Eco-Economic partnership(wIN).
Moreover, the Eco-Economic partnership (wIN) is the model most
commonly associated with the "sustainable development model" put
forward by the Bruntland Commission in 1987 or the "environmentally
sustainable development model" being promoted by the World Bank.
There can be development even when one or two sources of development
are in passive form. However, these are sustained development or
"sustainable development" positions resulting from specific
sustainability failures. The sufficient and necessary condition for
sustainability to take place is when all sources of development are
present in active form at the same time. Hence, sustainability is
optimal development, a "WIN" approach where all development concerns
and potential actions are considered at the same time. Therefore,
sustainable development is not sustainability, as illustrated by these
simple formula representations.