and Viability of Systems
Sustainability; Sustainability of Education
Aspects of Sustainability
Source: Frederic Vester: “Die Kunst vernetzt zu denken: Ideen und Werkzeuge für einen neuen Umgang mit der Komplexität”, 3rd Edition. Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlagsanstalt, 2000; S. 127-141 (slightly altered). See www.frederic-vester.de/sminfo.htm
self-regulation of systems must be made possible
Self-regulating systems are robust and have a high level of viability. They are achievable when negative feedback (acting in opposite sense), with its tendency to balance and cushion, outweighs positive feedback (acting in the same sense), with its continual balance-disturbing effect. Nevertheless, such positive feedback with its exponential growth factor is necessary in the beginning phase of development as an initial impulse.
Natural systems are from the outset self-regulating; such self-regulation should not be shut down through human intervention.
1.2 The system function must be independent from quantitative growth
Permanent quantitative growth prevents stabile balance, as required by survivable systems. Therefore, such growth must be avoided. Growth is possible in restricted systems only under one prerequisite over longer periods of time: a new level of organization must be created, which once again raises stability through new structures.
1.3 Systems must work function-oriented instead of product-oriented
Function-oriented systems demonstrate high flexibility and adaptability, which raises the viability in comparison to product-oriented systems.
1.4 Existing energy and forces should be used instead of combated
In order to reach the goal within a system, existing forces and energy should be taken advantage of instead of combated with great expenditure. An input of energy is then primarily necessary for the control of existing forces and energy; the system operates then with a high level of efficiency and self-regulation is encouraged.
1.5 Products, functions, and organizational structures are to be used for multiple purposes
This principle leads to a high level of efficiency and increases system viability.
1.6 Material is to be used in loops/cycles
This principle also supports a high level of efficiency and increases system viability.
Note of Studienbuero Jetzt & Morgen: However, in contrast to nature, this does not signify the pushing of recycling (the utilization of waste products and material) as a matter of priority. The reason lies in different working methods of nature and human economics. The goal must be to form long-living products and to use them long-term, and/or to recycle material without utilization (i.e. water- or coolant cycles). See criteria under 2.
1.7 Differences should be utilized by reciprocal coupling and exchange
Symbiosis - the interaction of different systems and components for mutual advantage - leads to a higher level of efficiency and less throughput, as well as greater stability. A prerequisite for symbiosis is variety within a small area.
1.8 Biological design for products, functions, and organizational structures
Products, functions, and organizational structures must be united with the biology of nature and mankind in order allow for system viability; they must be correspondingly developed.
Source for principle 5: Der Rat von Sachverständigenrat für Umweltfragen: “Umweltgutachten 1994 - Für eine dauerhaft-umweltgerechte Entwicklung“. Bundestagsdrucksache 12/6995; source: Deutscher Bundestag (Hrsg): „Konzept Nachhaltigkeit: Vom Leitbild zur Umsetzung“, S. 46.(The Advice of the Council of Experts for Environmental Questions: “Environmental Report 1994 - For permanent environmentally friendly development”.)
2.1 Strongly restricted use of non-renewable resources
Non-renewable resources (i.e. iron ore or mineral oil) should only be used in the same measure in which a substitute of equal value consisting of renewable resources is created, or a heightened productivity of the non-/renewable resource.
2.2 Restricted use of renewable resources
The rate at which renewable resources are consumed should not exceed their rate of regeneration.
2.3 Limited discharge of substances in the environment
The entry of substances in the environment should be oriented on the load-bearing capacity of the environmental media.
2.4 Orient intervention in the environment on the tempo of natural reaction time
The tempo of human intervention (or harmful action) in the environment must be in sync with the ability of relevant natural processes to react.
2.5 Avoid danger and risks to humanity
Danger and unjustifiable risks to human health through human influence are to be avoided.
3.1 Organize manner of economy for the long-term
Economical structures and manner are to be organized for the long-term; to this end, they must correspond to the demands of stabile systems (see chapter 2).
3.2 Preserve real capital
The real capital of a nation (such as infrastructural facilities and buildings) is to be at least preserved.
3.3 Preserve immaterial capital
The immaterial capital of a nation (such as the standard of education) is to be at least preserved.
3.4 Stabilize monetary value
The value of money is to be held stabile; therefore inflation must be prevented.
3.5 Benefits, services and obligations must be paid for by the benefiting generation
The expenditures for benefits, services and obligations must be born by the generation which enjoys the accompanying benefits. Intergenerational pacts are the exception to this rule (refer to principle 3.10).
3.6 Clearly restrict new debt or avoid it completely
Corresponding to the third and fifth principles, new debt is to be clearly restricted. Ideally, each generation must at the very least preserve its own real capital, as well as the immaterial capital which it receives from its parent’s generation, and then pass it on to the next generation. Indebtedness is then only for extraordinary circumstances necessary; and the financial expenditure is to be spread across multiple generations.
Because this generation-crossing principle has been violated since the 1970’s*, it can be viewed as legitimate to allow additional debt for sustainable investments in such measure as future generations will benefit from them.
* Since the 1970’s, society has used past investments which were financed without indebtedness, while creating debt at the same time in order to finance consume and its own investments, and later neglected to preserve its real capital.
3.7 Use resources efficiently
Maintaining the function of the state and the meeting of needs must be carried out efficiently. That is:
in order to achieve defined goals, as little resources as possible is to be used;
the most extensive achievements possible are to be brought about with existing resources.
3.8 Cost transparency and real value are to be assured
All economical services and obligations are to be produced in a cost-transparent manner, in which all expenses are to be brought into consideration (including external costs). This requirement has proven itself as a prerequisite for healthy economical structures (principle 1), for the efficient use of resources (principle 7), as well as for ecological sustainability.
3.9 Levy taxes according to ability to pay; maintain willingness to be productive
The amount of taxes which citizens and businesses have to pay must be oriented on their economical ability to pay. At the same time, it must be secured that the amount of taxes levied upon taxpayers does not - or only minimally - inhibits their willingness to be productive (basis for their economical ability to pay).
3.10 Intergenerational pacts must be arranged fairly
Intergenerational pacts must embody a fair and appropriate balance between generations. They may not disadvantage future generations.
4.1 Insure self-determination and human rights
Society must insure human rights and self-determination of citizens.
4.2 Guarantee security and justice
A trustworthy and independent system of justice, which insures the freedom and self-determination of the individual as well as human rights, is to be put into place. Furthermore, society must protect its individuals from threat and harm.
4.3 Strive for high quality of life
Society must strive toward a high quality of life for all of its citizens, which is to be demonstrated not only in material welfare.
4.4 Facilitate equality of opportunity and perspectives
Society must offer all of its members as much equality of opportunity and perspectives according to their individual talents and living situation as possible.
4.5 Include citizens in social decision-making (participation)
Citizens must participate in the preparation of social decisions with their ideas and wishes, and should be able to begin their own initiatives.
4.6 Promote autonomy
Society must promote the autonomy of its citizens and enable them to provide for their own security against the risks of life.
4.7 Support solidarity and self-help
Society must support solidarity and self-help.
4.8 Guarantee fundamental social protection
Society must provide fundamental social protection for people in need, in case personal provision and solidarity systems prove inadequate.
5.1 Facilitate development of personality among children and adolescents
Society must provide children and adolescents room to develop their personality. Adequate room to develop includes, for instance, appropriate structures for children, a minimum standard of living, attention, solidarity, justice, tolerance, and freedom from aggression.
5.2 Convey fundamental values
Elementary social values, such as freedom, tolerance, justice, and solidarity, must be anchored in the entire society, and in particular are to be conveyed to children and adolescents.
5.3 Convey the fundamental order and function of society
The fundamental order and function of society must be conveyed, including the existing correlations.
5.4 Focus on the complexity and dynamic of changes
Society must bring attention to the complexity of systems and the dynamic of changes. This applies to, for instance, economical, ecological, social, political, technical, and international aspects in their resulting combination. An interdisciplinary approach is of great significance in this process.
5.5 Facilitate sufficient education for professional perspectives
Education is to be structured in such a manner, and provided in such an array, that all people have the opportunity to establish professional perspectives for themselves.
5.6 Education for autonomy
Education should provide people with the ability to act on their own authority and responsibility.
5.7 Education for social responsibility and engagement
Education should encourage and provide people with the ability to assume responsibility and engage themselves in society.
5.8 Educational investment that is intergenerationally fair
Solid education in the early years is the prerequisite for later being able to fulfill one’s needs, be socially engaged, and to behave sustainably. To this end, the principle of the intergenerational pact underlies the system of education. That is why society bears the never-ending responsibility of educating its youth well and sufficiently.
Combat poverty together
All nations and people together have the task and bear the responsibility of combating poverty in the world.
6.2 Give people perspective worldwide
All nations and people together have the task and bear the responsibility of offering perspective to all people around the world. Providing security of human rights, peace, social security, education, and sufficient existential security is part of this task.
6.3 Orient aid on the needs of the people
Developmental- and other aid must be oriented on the needs of the receiving people.
6.4 Structure international relationships fairly
International relationships between nations and those which exist through international organizations (such as the UN and IMF) must be structured fairly upon the premise of equality.
6.5 Organize global financial and economic structures fairly
Global financial and economic structures must be organized fairly and upon the premise of equality.
These principles are a result of the study “Sustainable Policy: Economical, Ecological, and Social Aspects interlinked”.