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Framework of urban sustainability
Kahn (1995)  writes that the paradigm of ‘sustainable development’ described in Agenda 21, in fact, rests on three conceptual pillars. These pillars are ‘economic sustainability’, ‘social sustainability’,  and ‘environmental sustainability’

Element                                                         Criteria

Economic Sustainability                             Growth , Development, Productivity, Trickle Down[/ltr]

Social Sustainability                                  Equity,  Empowerment, Accessibility,  Participation,  Sharing,  Cultural Identity,  Institutional Stability[/ltr]

Environmental Sustainability                     Eco-System Integrity,  Carrying Capacity,  Biodiversity[/ltr]

1. Economic sustainability, by way of growth, development, and productivity, has guided conventional development science in the past. 

Market allocation of resources, sustained levels of growth and consumption, an assumption that natural resources are unlimited and a belief that economic  growth will ‘trickle down’ to the poor have been its hallmarks. ‘Sustainable development’ expands development’s concern with monetary capital to consider natural, social and human capital. Restraint upon economic growth and consumption which deplete these is favored 

‘Economic sustainability’ implies a system of production that satisfies present consumption levels without compromising future needs. The ‘sustainability’

that ‘economic sustainability’ seeks is the ‘sustainability’ of the economic system itself. The notion of ‘economic sustainability’ was originated by Hicks. In his classic work Value and Capital 1939; second edition 1946., Hicks defined
‘income’ as ‘the amount one can consume during a period and still be as well off at the end of the period’.

2. Social sustainability encompasses notions of equity, empowerment, accessibility, participation, sharing, cultural identity, and institutional stability. It seeks to preserve the environment through economic growth and the alleviation of poverty. Some commentators have suggested that poor countries must accept environmental degradation as a short term consequence of economic development. Others have argued that an enabling environment that optimizes resource allocation can obviate the need for such a trade-off .

Working definition for Dujon et al. writing group:

“that social aspect of sustainability should be understood as both:

1.the processes that generate social health and well-being now and in the future, and

2.those social institutions that facilitate environmental and economic sustainability now and for the future.” .

Socially sustainable communities are able to:

• achieve and maintain personal health: physical, mental and physiological;
• feed themselves adequately;
• provide adequate and appropriate shelter for themselves;
• have opportunities for gainful and meaningful employment;
• improve their knowledge and understanding of the world around them;
• find opportunities to express creativity and enjoy recreation in ways that
satisfy spiritual and psychological needs;
• express a sense of identity through heritage, art and culture;
• enjoy a sense of belonging;
• be assured of mutual social support from their community;
• enjoy freedom from discrimination and, for those who are physically
challenged, move about a barrier-free community;
• enjoy freedom from fear, and security of person; and
• participate actively in civic affairs.

3. Environmental sustainability  involves ecosystem integrity, carrying capacity and biodiversity. It requires that natural capital be maintained as a source of economic inputs and as a sink for wastes. Resources must be harvested no faster

than they can be regenerated. Wastes must be emitted no faster than they can be assimilated by the environment .
Eco-System Integrity 
Sustainability Carrying Capacity
Means of environment sustainability : 
1. Propose a plan to protect natural systems
2. Form team of indigenous resource managers
3. Educate the team in environmental planning
4. Survey the landscape’s natural attributes
5. Identify natural opportunities and constraints
6. Identify sensitivities of plants and animals
7. Identify social opportunities / constraints
8. Identify cultural opportunities / constraints
9. Apply eco-principles from other regions
10. Adapt environmental laws from other regions
11. Draft a nature friendly development plan
12. Recommend land development suitabilities
13. Recommend land conservation suitabilities
14. Establish nature reserves and protected areas
15. Establish environmental protection council
16. Provide ‘one-stop’ development permission
17. Establish community participation committee
18. Hear local citizens affected by development
19. Host democratic fora of citizen participation
20. Integrate social and economic factors in plan

References : 
  1. Dillard, J., Dujon, V. & King, M. C. (2009). Introduction. In J. Dillard, V. Dujon, & M. C. King (Eds.), Understanding the social dimension of sustainability (pp. 1-12).
  2. BC Round Table on the Environment and Economy, 1993, cited in Mark Roseland’s Towards sustainable communities: Resources for citizens and their governments, 2005
Manish Jain Luhadia 
B.Arch (hons.), M.Plan
Tel: +91 141 2743536 


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