What is Environmental Sustainability

What is Environmental Sustainability

It is recognised that there are various definitions for environment sustainability, as it encompasses such a broad scope. In 2011, Kogarah City Council defined a sustainable society as:

"A sustainable society is one that can persist over generations, one that is far-seeing enough, flexible enough and wise enough not to undermine either its physical or its social systems of support" (definition From Beyond the Limits (Meadows et al. 1992)).

This definition best represents Kogarah City Council's views on environmental sustainability and its application to the organisation and the community.

Kogarah City Council's environmental vision

Kogarah City Council's environmental vision comes from one of the six Key Strategic Directions of the Community Strategic Plan - 'A Clean, Green and Sustainable City'.

The environmental vision integrates with the vision statement of Kogarah City Council which is, 'A viable and sustainable future in partnership with our community'.

Principles of sustainability

Kogarah City Council adopts the United Nations Environment Program's (UNEP) 'Melbourne Principles for Sustainable Cities' to help guide our journey towards sustainability (UNEP 2002).

These principles are known as the UNEP Principles and are intended as a guide for cities around the world to develop sustainable solutions that are relevant to their own particular circumstances. They provide a simple set of statements outlining the elements of a 'Sustainable City', and provide a foundation for Kogarah City Council and our community to work together to achieve that goal.

Kogarah City Council adopted these principles in 2010 to help guide the thinking in Council's day to day decision making and planning for the long term sustainability within the Council and the City as a whole.

United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), The Ten Melbourne Principles for Sustainable Cities, 2002

VISION Provide a long term vision for the City based on sustainability, intergenerational, social, economic, and political equity, and individuality Kogarah City Council’s Vision and Mission Statement
ECONOMY AND SOCIETY Achieve long term economic and social security Key Strategic Directions 3 and 4
BIODIVERSITY Recognise the intrinsic value of biodiversity and natural ecosystems and their protection and restoration Key Strategic Direction 1
ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINTS Recognise the intrinsic value of biodiversity and natural ecosystems and their protection and restorat Key Strategic Directions 1 and 2
MODEL CITIES ON ECOSYSTEMS Build on the characteristics of ecosystems in the development and nurturing of a healthy and sustainable City Key Strategic Directions 1 and 2
SENSE OF PLACE Recognise and build on the distinctive characteristics of the City including our human and cultural values, history and natural systems Key Strategic Directions 2 and 4
EMPOWERMENT Empower people and foster participation Key Strategic Directions 4 and 6
PARTNERSHIPS Expand and enable co-operative networks to work towards a common sustainable future Key Strategic Directions 4 and 6
SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTION AND CONSUMPTION Promote sustainable production and consumption, through appropriate use of environmentally sound technologies and effective demand management Key Strategic Directions 1 and 2
GOVERNANCE AND HOPE Enable continual improvement, based on accountability, transparency and good governance Key Strategic Direction 6

Models of sustainability

A sustainability model provides a visual representation of the elements which are considered when making decisions. The model of sustainability adopted for Kogarah City Council is based on the NSW Local Government Sustainability Health Check (Local Government Managers Australia (LGMA) 2006).

ESD_model of sustainability 1 ESD_model of sustainability 2

The three circles in the diagram represent the three important elements of societal values, being ecological, social and economic. When making a decision, these three elements must be considered, balanced and their interactions understood. The aim of good decisions should be where the three circles overlap.

When the three elements of society values are considered in decision-making, a culture of sustainability grows. This means that sustainability becomes embedded into society and is part of our culture. The culture of sustainability may spread even further where it becomes part of our everyday lives, developing into a spirit of sustainability.

Kogarah City Council aims to incorporate these models of sustainability into our own organisational systems, culture and decision making. Our aim is for these values to then flow through to our community to enhance the sustainability spirit.