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Sustainable Development: Implementation in Urban Water Systems

Bagheri, Ali LU (2006)
Abstract
As Sustainable development, a widely used but poorly understood term, challenges traditional scientific values such as prediction and control, scientists have tried to manipulate the concept to promote their own particular agendas. Thus, it has suffered from misrepresentation which has prevented the concept from being fully implemented at a practical level.



It is asserted that traditional fragmented and mechanistic science is unable to cope with sustainability issues, and that there is no equilibrium or optimal point for an evolving system since the optimum is also moving. Therefore, approaches advocating engineering, linear, and mechanistic paradigms to define sustainability do not make much sense. Instead, we need to... (More)
As Sustainable development, a widely used but poorly understood term, challenges traditional scientific values such as prediction and control, scientists have tried to manipulate the concept to promote their own particular agendas. Thus, it has suffered from misrepresentation which has prevented the concept from being fully implemented at a practical level.



It is asserted that traditional fragmented and mechanistic science is unable to cope with sustainability issues, and that there is no equilibrium or optimal point for an evolving system since the optimum is also moving. Therefore, approaches advocating engineering, linear, and mechanistic paradigms to define sustainability do not make much sense. Instead, we need to resort to non-linear thinking, more commonly referred to as systems thinking. Thus, System Dynamics, one branch of systems thinking which operates in a whole-system fashion, is put forward as a powerful methodology to deal with the issue.



Using a system dynamics approach, the thesis introduces the idea of Viability Loops, the balancing loops in a dynamic system that serve to check the reinforcing mechanisms.



It is also argued that sustainability is neither a system state nor a static goal to be achieved. It is an ideal of development efforts in a system. Ideals come from ethics and values, and they are indeed non-quantifiable.



Sustainable development is perceived as a dynamic process evolving through a learning process, and not as any kind of optimum or end-state of a system. Neither is it adoptable to strategies based on command and control, fixed goals, and predictability. It, therefore, refers to the goal of fostering adaptive capabilities to respond to changes while simultaneously creating opportunities for the next generation to find a variety of options to meet their needs.



The thesis argues that sustainable development is a process in which the Viability Loops are kept healthy. This process deals with evolutionary changes where the end point is not known in advance. According to this perception, measuring sustainable development does not make sense. Rather, systems should be monitored for sustainable development by means of process indicators.



Principles are required to be fostered to deal with the issue of sustainable development and to fulfill the normative level of the society ?known as morality? as well as the natural rules ?identified as god given causal relations. In the thesis, principles of sustainable development adapted for water resources systems are suggested based on the principles of The Natural Steps (TNS) to address physical relations of nature, and system basic orientors to treat both environmental and humanitarian aspects of the issue respectively.



It is argued that triggering a social learning process would be the most suitable strategy for sustainable development. To this end, backcasting is recommended as a suitable tool, and model building is regarded as a promotion of the learning process rather than a means of forecasting. (Less)
Abstract (Swedish)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Hållbar utveckling är ett ofta använt begrepp, som många inte riktigt förstår eftersom det går på tvärs mot traditionella vetenskapliga begrepp som förutsägelse och styrning. Många vetenskapsmän har tolkat begreppet på sätt som gynnar den egna agendan. Dessa vantolkningar har lett till att begreppet inte kommit till användning i praktisk planering.



Avhandlingen hävdar att traditionell, fragmenterad och mekanistisk vetenskap inte kan hantera frågor kring hållbar utveckling eftersom det inte finns något jämviktstillstånd eller någon optimal trajektoria i ett dynamiskt system. Det handlar om en process, som ständigt utvecklas. Angreppssätt, som bygger på ingenjörstekniska, lineära... (More)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Hållbar utveckling är ett ofta använt begrepp, som många inte riktigt förstår eftersom det går på tvärs mot traditionella vetenskapliga begrepp som förutsägelse och styrning. Många vetenskapsmän har tolkat begreppet på sätt som gynnar den egna agendan. Dessa vantolkningar har lett till att begreppet inte kommit till användning i praktisk planering.



Avhandlingen hävdar att traditionell, fragmenterad och mekanistisk vetenskap inte kan hantera frågor kring hållbar utveckling eftersom det inte finns något jämviktstillstånd eller någon optimal trajektoria i ett dynamiskt system. Det handlar om en process, som ständigt utvecklas. Angreppssätt, som bygger på ingenjörstekniska, lineära eller mekanistiska paradigm blir inte meningsfulla. Istället måste vi ta till icke-lineär metodik dvs systemanalys. I avhandlingen utnyttjas System Dynamics, en variant av systemanalys, som möjliggör arbete utifrån ett helhetsperspektiv



Utifrån detta perspektiv definieras loopar för livskraft. De är de negativa återkopplingar, som ger ett system en balanserad utveckling.



Vidare hävdas att hållbar utveckling varken kan definieras som något specifikt systemtillstånd eller som något statiskt mål. Det är ett ouppnåeligt ideal, som systemet bör sträva att utvecklas mot. Idealet utvecklas också i takt med att arbetet hela tiden ger nya kunskaper och nya världsbilder. Eftersom idealen hämtas från ett etiskt förhållningssätt är de kvalitativa och inte kvantitativa.



Hållbar utveckling behandlas som en dynamisk process, som utvecklas genom en kontinuerlig lärandeprocess. Det är således inte något, som kan kommenderas fram. Hållbar utveckling handlar om att skapa en anpassningsförmåga, som gör att systemet kan reagera på förändringar och samtidigt skapa förutsättningar för nya och bättre handlingsalternativ.



I avhandlingen hävdas att hållbar utveckling handlar om en process där man ser till att hålla looparna för livskraft i gott skick. Denna process är evolutionär, vilket gör att man inte kan göra några förutsägelser rörande olika framtida tillstånd. Utifrån denna ståndpunkt blir det meningslöst att försöka mäta hållbarhet. Snarare bör man utnyttja processindikatorer för att se om utvecklingen går åt rätt håll.



Det finns principer, som man måste följa för att kunna skapa en hållbar utveckling. Det handlar dels om grundläggande naturlagar, dels om samhällets grundläggande moraliska och etiska värderingar.



Avhandlingen förordar principer för hållbar vattenhantering, som grundar sig på Det Naturliga Stegets formuleringar om vad naturen tål och några etiska principer för hantering av sociala och miljömässiga aspekter.



Det hävdas att tillskapandet av sociala läroprocesser är den viktigaste strategiska frågan i arbetet för hållbar utveckling. Planering bör bygga på önskvärda framtida scenarier och analyser av hur man kan tänkas ha tagit sig dit. Detta resonemang leder till att modeller mer ses som intressanta verktyg för lärandeprocesser än som instrument för förutsägelser om framtida tillstånd. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
supervisor
opponent
  • Senior Lecturer Holmberg, John, Department of Energy and Environment, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Miljöteknik, pollution control, Environmental technology, Naturvetenskap, Natural science, Water resources systems, Viability loops, Urban water system, System dynamics, Sustainable development, Strategy, Social learning, Process, Principles, Indicators, Planning, Monitoring, kontroll av utsläpp
pages
204 pages
publisher
Department of Water Resources Engineering, Lund Institute of Technology, Lund University
defense location
Room V:A, V-building, John Ericssons väg 1, Lund Institute of Technology
defense date
2006-05-02 13:15:00
ISBN
978-91-628-6789-8
language
English
LU publication?
yes
additional info
id
beeaafb3-a0b2-4601-9b82-119ec952fc95 (old id 546536)
date added to LUP
2016-04-01 16:15:27
date last changed
2018-11-21 20:39:59
@phdthesis{beeaafb3-a0b2-4601-9b82-119ec952fc95,
  abstract     = {As Sustainable development, a widely used but poorly understood term, challenges traditional scientific values such as prediction and control, scientists have tried to manipulate the concept to promote their own particular agendas. Thus, it has suffered from misrepresentation which has prevented the concept from being fully implemented at a practical level.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
It is asserted that traditional fragmented and mechanistic science is unable to cope with sustainability issues, and that there is no equilibrium or optimal point for an evolving system since the optimum is also moving. Therefore, approaches advocating engineering, linear, and mechanistic paradigms to define sustainability do not make much sense. Instead, we need to resort to non-linear thinking, more commonly referred to as systems thinking. Thus, System Dynamics, one branch of systems thinking which operates in a whole-system fashion, is put forward as a powerful methodology to deal with the issue.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
Using a system dynamics approach, the thesis introduces the idea of Viability Loops, the balancing loops in a dynamic system that serve to check the reinforcing mechanisms.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
It is also argued that sustainability is neither a system state nor a static goal to be achieved. It is an ideal of development efforts in a system. Ideals come from ethics and values, and they are indeed non-quantifiable.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
Sustainable development is perceived as a dynamic process evolving through a learning process, and not as any kind of optimum or end-state of a system. Neither is it adoptable to strategies based on command and control, fixed goals, and predictability. It, therefore, refers to the goal of fostering adaptive capabilities to respond to changes while simultaneously creating opportunities for the next generation to find a variety of options to meet their needs.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
The thesis argues that sustainable development is a process in which the Viability Loops are kept healthy. This process deals with evolutionary changes where the end point is not known in advance. According to this perception, measuring sustainable development does not make sense. Rather, systems should be monitored for sustainable development by means of process indicators.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
Principles are required to be fostered to deal with the issue of sustainable development and to fulfill the normative level of the society ?known as morality? as well as the natural rules ?identified as god given causal relations. In the thesis, principles of sustainable development adapted for water resources systems are suggested based on the principles of The Natural Steps (TNS) to address physical relations of nature, and system basic orientors to treat both environmental and humanitarian aspects of the issue respectively.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
It is argued that triggering a social learning process would be the most suitable strategy for sustainable development. To this end, backcasting is recommended as a suitable tool, and model building is regarded as a promotion of the learning process rather than a means of forecasting.},
  author       = {Bagheri, Ali},
  isbn         = {978-91-628-6789-8},
  language     = {eng},
  publisher    = {Department of Water Resources Engineering, Lund Institute of Technology, Lund University},
  school       = {Lund University},
  title        = {Sustainable Development: Implementation in Urban Water Systems},
  url          = {https://lup.lub.lu.se/search/ws/files/4617789/546537.pdf},
  year         = {2006},
}