Title: Conceptual frameworks and visual interpretations of sustainability

Authors: Gilberto Gallopín; Luis M. Jiménez Herrero; Asthriesslav Rocuts

Addresses: Perón 1890 Piso 5, Buenos Aires 1040, Argentina ' Observatory on Sustainability in Spain (OSE), University of Alcalá de Henares, Plaza San Diego s/n – Casa Anexa al Rectorado, 2ª planta (28801), Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Spain ' UNESCO Chair on Sustainability, Sustainability Measurement and Modelling Lab, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya – Barcelona Tech (UPC), C/Colom 1, 08222 Terrassa, Spain

Abstract: This article presents a dual (conceptual and visual) discussion of sustainability and sustainable development, arguing for the two perspectives being complementary. The conceptual treatment includes an analysis of the concepts using a systemic framework highlighting the plurality of interpretations arising from the specification of the system, valuation function, and theoretical perspective adopted. The relations between development, and material and non-material economic growth (including sustainable degrowth) are examined from the standpoint of sustainability. The visual discussion includes a comparison of different integrated visualisations of sustainability containing the three basic dimensions (social, environmental, economic). Descriptions are given of representations that include, in addition, the political-institutional dimension, and others that contain systemic interrelations, different dimensions, and vectorial representations of sustainability. An interpretation of the evolutionary dynamics of the sustainability processes stemming from political and governance actions is proposed. Lastly, a number of general conclusions are presented.

Keywords: sustainable development; sustainability; conceptual frameworks; visual interpretations; systemic approach; economic growth.

DOI: 10.1504/IJSD.2014.064183

International Journal of Sustainable Development, 2014 Vol.17 No.3, pp.298 - 326

Accepted: 14 Jan 2013
Published online: 30 Aug 2014 *

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