Rw: Beginning of a Sustainability Thread...

Patricia Clay (pclay@WHSUN1.WH.WHOI.EDU)
Tue, 7 Jun 1994 12:02:23 -0400

According to Bill Loker:

My real point in coming out of the lurkers closet is to open another can
of worms. A colleague at an economic development research institute
where I used to work (IFPRI) wants to know what definitions
anthropologists have come up with for the term "sustainable" as in
"sustainable development." How about it, anthro-listers, anyone have
thoughts on this topic? What is sustainability? At what level does it
operate(farm/firm? household? ecosystem? region? globe?) Can it be
measured? How? Is it an ecological concept or a social concept or
both/neither? Reply to me personally if you choose (I will
post to the entire list if desired). Or post to the list in general if
you think its an issue that should be discussed on this list.

Sorry for the length of the post --
Bill Loker, Mississippi State, Soc/ANTHRO (wloker@RA.MSSTATE.EDU)


I forwarded your post on Anthro-L to another list I belong to,
FISHFOLK. It's an interdisciplinary list on fisheries management issues. I
hadn't kept up with my reading for a couple of weeks, so just noticed that
someone replied to the forwarded post by posting to FISHFOLK only.
Therefore, I'm forwarding that reply directly to you. To continue the
discussion reply to Lynn Pinkerton or post to FISHFOLK.

I would also note that sustainability is indeed the new buzzword.
In U.S. fisheries management, for instance, NOAA recently created a new
office called "Office of Sustainable Development and Intergovernmental
Affairs". Whether or not this refers to biological sustainability or the
sustaining of economies and communities is somewhat blurred (re. your
question of what sustainability is). The implicit assumption seems to be that
one can create a system to sustain all of the above. Economists and others
will guffaw, however, if you try to talk about mathematical models for
maximizing multiple variables. Maybe satisficing might be applicable

Referring to the co-management & common pool literature noted by
Pinkerton, and referencing your question on levels, most of the systems
which look effective have been relatively small in size, had fairly homogeneous
memberships, and good mutual monitoring (at a minimum). (If you want some
specific references on either systems or theory, I can supply some).
Relatively successful co-management efforts (cooperative local-state control)
are just beginning to be explored (Lynn Pinkerton is one of the experts
here, as is Svein Jentoft of U. of Tromso, Norway, an several others.)

Trish Clay