Becoming the Change Agent of Sustainability (part II)
Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Author: Alice Chen
What We Can Do – Starting with Awareness
The Natural Step has introduced the “ABCD Process” to make changes and achieve sustainability – awareness (A), baseline assessment (B), creative solutions (C), and devise a plan (D).
Everything starts with awareness. Therefore, it is important to first understand the meaning of sustainability to individuals, organizations, and society. Business Consultants Inc. offers e-learning courses (SustainOnline) aiming to drive sustainable organizational change that contents are developed and supervised by consultants of The Natural Step. It provides online courses and tools to engage and increase knowledge about sustainability.
The knowledge framework shows that a sustainable society is made up of healthy ecosystems and healthy social systems. Learning about how a healthy social system is may be a good place to start for anyone working in small or large organizations, and for consultants working with individuals and organizations.
A Healthy Social System
A healthy social system is a social system that is resilient to the constant changes of modern society; it has the capacity to adapt to significant changes and continue to thrive. What are the essential factors for such a system?
To find out the answer, researchers first look at what the basic human needs are. As humans, we all have basic needs to be satisfied if we want to remain physically and mentally healthy, and we are a social species that organize ourselves into families, communities, companies, countries and so forth. Accordingly, the ability of a social system to help us meet our needs depends on the quality of the relationships and interactions between people.
Knowing the basic needs of humans, leading science tells us healthy social systems must have the following elements:
- Trust: the most important factor, the glue that holds social systems together.
- Sufficient diversity: to have more variety of ideas to respond to constant changes.
- Continuous learning: to evolve and adapt to new situations.
- Capacity for self-organization: to take actions when quick responses are needed.
- Shared values and meaning: to act for the good of the system.
[Source: 2019 SustainOnline OY]
Based on the essential elements above, scientists have defined a set of universal social sustainability principles - the rules that we should live up to in order to maintain a healthy society.