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On Sustainability Today

On Sustainability Today Economy Near Us (LIX)

The current period characterised at global level by the action of economic, environmental, geopolitical, societal and technological crises is leading to the transformation of production and consumption systems, making it necessary to accept for a moment some compromises in the distribution of natural and human wealth in order to eliminate the economic and social inequalities that have appeared in our societies. The unequal distribution of prosperity is a factor that is currently generating growing political and social tensions.

Based on the assertion that attention to sustainability can ensure real change in the society in which we live and is moreover a moral obligation of every individual, we reaffirm the view that social justice is a pillar of sustainability (social, economic, environmental) because of the human values it promotes, namely freedom, equality, solidarity, responsibility, mutuality. Some aspects of sustainability and social justice, how they support each other and assessments of the current situation will be noted below. 

On sustainability 

Sustainability, as theoretically defined in the literature (Elements of economic sustainability modelling, author Emil Dinga), is a property of a system to replicate itself indefinitely, assuming a certain margin of invariance of all conditions of existence and functioning of that system. However, it should be noted that this replicability takes place under both objective and subjective conditions that are considered to be desirable at the level of the system in question, conditions that should not be considered invariant but only desirable, feasible and accepted. In this context, we integrate social sustainability, economic sustainability and environmental sustainability.

Seen as an important component of a society’s well-being and stability, social sustainability is based on the principles by which individuals pursue the goals that belong to their chosen patterns of development within society. Social policies that address the economy, social capital, health, education, the environment, etc., but also the provision of the social dimension for the realisation of the potential, of the capabilities that each individual has (according to Martha C. Nussbaum), together with the dimensions of social responsibility formulated by Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen, i.e., the quality of life (which includes the provision of health care, education, jobs, safety and security measures for the individual, etc.), are the basis for the development of social sustainability. Equality (equal opportunities, gender equality, elimination of differential treatment based on disability, age, ethnicity), diversity (educating and establishing the needs of groups of individuals to enjoy the benefits of all types of diversity), social cohesion (behaviours and bonds of affinity between individuals, communities), democracy and governance (a system of government that adopts democratic norms, principles and institutions, involves governing with and for the interest of individuals and society in the interest of the “common good”) complete the specific area of social sustainability.

Economic sustainability, as stated above, is the ability of an (economic) system to replicate itself indefinitely. We say that a system is sustainable if and only if all its outputs have the potential to become inputs to itself or to other systems contemporaneous or not with the system in question. Current challenges to economic sustainability are related to regional military conflicts, political turmoil, problems caused by changing climatic conditions, health, food, financial crises, etc. It should also be noted that economic sustainability is never ensured by economic conditions alone, but also involves an important social component such as economic inequality, which is more a social problem, a social justice problem.

Environmental sustainability involves protecting global systems to sustain the well-being and health of human civilisation by adopting strategies that address climate, mobility, energy, the circular economy, etc.

On sustainability in social justice 

We look the sustainability in social justice as a state of a system that has principles (internal and external) by which the system is replicable under the conditions of preserving its identity, an identity given by the preservation of its structure. Preserving the structure of the system does not necessarily mean preserving the system in a specific way, but it allows for an acceptable margin of variation where the system remains identical to itself. The main sufficiency predicates of sustainability in the field of social justice are: predictability (P) – social justice seeks to ensure identical effects for identical causes; regularity (R) – refers to the preservation of the identity of social justice in the fulfilment of its purpose-related objectives; self-similarity (S) – the property of social justice to be identical with itself, refers to the respect of values (from the axiological matrix of the nation) and tradition in the implementation of the rules of the rule of law.

Thus, the sustainability of social justice is a predictable construct that preserves the social identity of social justice by preserving values and traditions in the implementation of the rule of law, having a continuous character and an institutional origin. We can say that sustainability in social justice implies the replication, through memes, of values, behaviours generally accepted in the given system, being also possible the replication of institutions implementing social justice. The impact of sustainability in social justice has the effect of preserving the general social pattern, traditions and social stability. 


Sustainability, of any genre, is strongly influenced today by societal, technological, economic, environmental and geopolitical developments, as well as by changes in the values and lifestyles of individuals. The main objectives of sustainability in the coming period: ensuring economic development, equity and social justice are difficult to achieve due to unexpected developments such as financial crises, increased immigration, terrorism, growing populism and polarisation of society, increasing influence of social networks, erosion of the established international order (trade wars, regional military conflicts).

Climate change is the big environmental problem we will face in the next decade, as well as water scarcity, biodiversity loss and waste management. Sustainability challenges such as poverty, inequality, food security, access to health care and education are still a problem for a large proportion of individuals as the population ages and reduces its growth as a result of improving average living conditions. 

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