Presenter/Author Information

A. Guergachi
O. Ngenyama
V. Magness
J. Hakim

Keywords

systematic thinking, economy versus environment, sustainability, empathy

Start Date

1-7-2010 12:00 AM

Description

When environmentalists warned, back in the 1970s, against pesticides andfertilizers, the then United States Secretary of Agriculture retorted that “before we go backto organic agriculture, somebody is going to have to decide what 50 million people we aregoing to let starve”. This exchange is nothing but an illustration of the dilemmatic choicethat societies in general have been asked to make: “develop the economy” or “protect theenvironment”. This paper proposes an integrated framework to resolve the dilemma of'environment versus economy'. This framework unfolds the essential characteristics ofsustainable societies and outlines the mechanics that underlie sustainable development.Referred to as ‘General Theory of Sustainability’ (GTS), it is composed of 10 principlesthat make statements about a variety of issues including the limitations of systematicthinking and engineering methods, poverty, wealth-generating economic activities,economic theory, civil society and voluntary sector, gender, management of uncertaintyand the physical environment. The common thread that weaves through all of these issuesin the GTS is a fundamental concept that originated in psychology but is currently popularin other disciplines as well: the concept of empathy.

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Jul 1st, 12:00 AM

Empathy: a Unifying Approach to Address the Dilemma of 'Environment versus Economy'

When environmentalists warned, back in the 1970s, against pesticides andfertilizers, the then United States Secretary of Agriculture retorted that “before we go backto organic agriculture, somebody is going to have to decide what 50 million people we aregoing to let starve”. This exchange is nothing but an illustration of the dilemmatic choicethat societies in general have been asked to make: “develop the economy” or “protect theenvironment”. This paper proposes an integrated framework to resolve the dilemma of'environment versus economy'. This framework unfolds the essential characteristics ofsustainable societies and outlines the mechanics that underlie sustainable development.Referred to as ‘General Theory of Sustainability’ (GTS), it is composed of 10 principlesthat make statements about a variety of issues including the limitations of systematicthinking and engineering methods, poverty, wealth-generating economic activities,economic theory, civil society and voluntary sector, gender, management of uncertaintyand the physical environment. The common thread that weaves through all of these issuesin the GTS is a fundamental concept that originated in psychology but is currently popularin other disciplines as well: the concept of empathy.