Sustainability: The Tri Sector Athletic Approach to solving problems

Sustainability is a popular major in college now a days with prominent universities launching academic programs such as SMU in Singapore with DBS Bank supporting it. It’s excellent to hear business majors reading about social finance and circular economy. Sustainability has always been a complex art and science, with the society at its core and ecology as its fulcrum. Sustainability thus is a multi headed hydra, a shape shifting construct whose genes are triggered by its environmental factors literally.

In order to understand and implement sustainability in the everyday, a complex adaptive systems approach has to be adopted as it sits at the nexus of law, economics, science and society. The dynamics evolve rapidly. The best soil and groundwater expert I have worked with had degrees in electronics engineering and the best EIA experts only had read undergraduate degrees in science. Operationalising sustainability needs hard science and would require economists as well as engineers and ecologists to work on multidimensional projects. Climate Finance is not only the realm of the CFA but also of the meteorologist. The hydrology expert who does Flood Risk Studies would be needed as well to calculate risk factors for climate risk insurance products. The anthropologist will help understand the ramifications of flooding on social ties and the political scientist can converse on water security. The public policy expert or the policy maker will take all these inputs to curate regional policies for urban areas or regulate GHG emissions. Sustainability needs tri sector athletes, to navigate power terrains of varied typologies. Solutions will burst out of the bulging disciplinary seams of expert hegemony, and hopefully citizen science or social science will emerge. Sustainability for sure needs to be more a youth conference circuit talking point.