What is a Sustainable Society?
A sustainable society is one that can continue indefinitely. Its level of consumption should reflect environmental and resource balance. It should assure its citizens equality, freedom and a healthy standard of living.
A sustainable society focuses on the current and future well-being of its citizens and the environment. Presently, our national policies are dedicated to producing the highest possible rate of economic growth and consumption. Growth forever and obsession with the size of the commercial economy have displaced our responsible national goals. We must create a strategy for achieving a stable economy. We must develop measurement standards that clearly define personal, social and environmental health.
The pursuit of unending population and consumption growth is not sustainable environmentally, socially or fiscally on our finite planet. We must balance the long term interests of individuals, communities within our natural world. We must break the cycle of human history of repeatedly over-exploiting our resource base and suffering through the consequent destructive population and social declines.
The business-as-usual scenarios typical of current grow-forever economies dictate that, at a 3% growth target, environmental demand doubles every 23 years. What is generally not realised about this exponential growth process is that with each doubling constitutes more resource consumption than in all previous history. On no level is this sustainable.
Instead of looking at the society as a market and the individual as a consumer, a sustainable society bases its goals on human well-being and the health of its institutional and environmental assets. Our current policies revolve around the simple concept of growth where maximum consumption in the commercial economy is the sole objective
This ignores human welfare, environmental health and is fiscally ruinous. A sustainable society measures human and environmental health in real world indicators, not in dollars.
Growth does not equal prosperity. Building blocks of low unemployment, high social equality, low debt and a well-educated populace productively employed with a strong social safety net make a nation truly prosperous and successful. Once that human success is brought into balance with nature, a society can be said to be truly sustainable.