Sustainability : 3 interrelated pillars

Mariana Mirabile
2 min readMar 16, 2021

Cet article est aussi disponible en français.

The term sustainability can be understood as the possibility to continue a specific behavior over time. For a society to be sustainable, we need what is often referred to as the 3 pillars of sustainability: environmental, social, and economic sustainability.

The way we live today — in particular the way we produce and consume — is unsustainable. Environmentally, as we are extracting and polluting more than what the Earth can sustain. Economically and socially, due to high poverty levels, increasing inequalities, war, corruption, and the rise of authoritarianism.

This series will focus on the environmental sustainability crisis, hereafter the environmental crisis.

As we have discussed in this article, the environmental crisis is too complex to be analyzed as one big problem. Trying to do so would be like listening to multiple conversations at once: only when we listen to each conversation in turn — i.e. when we divide the problem into key symptoms — do we understand what each conversation — or analysis — has to say.

Harich and his team at divide the environmental sustainability crisis into the following four key sub-problems:

  1. The political system blocks the environmental laws we need.
  2. Large corporations dominate the political system at the expense of the common good.
  3. The political system is unable to identify and adjust previously relevant solutions that are no longer relevant.
  4. Humans have an unsustainable impact on the biosphere.

You will notice that sub-problem 4 is indeed THE problem to solve. As we will see in other articles of the series, Thwink argues that this problem becomes unsolvable if we don’t target the resistance to laws first.

Let’s get started!

This article is part of a series of articles, available here.



Mariana Mirabile

I am an economist with a passion to improve systems. All views are my own.