“Sustainomics”? Possible? Or maybe not?

According to EarthPortal.org, 2009 is the “Year of Science.”
May is the month of Sustainability and the Environment!

There are several interesting things to read on EarthPortal’s website, including an interesting page on land use change and an e-book called “Making Development More Sustainable.”

In the introduction of this e-book, they authors introduce a term, “sustainomics,” which they define as “a transdisciplinary, integrative, comprehensive, balanced, heuristic and practical framework for making development more sustainable.”


In particular, I’m interested in how development has been affecting mangroves. These habitats are some of the least appreciated in the world, even though they are extremely important as storm buffers. Mangroves often get converted into shrimp farms, or other economic activities. It would be interesting to see if the authors of the blog on this website have an opinion on whether “sustainomics” is feasible in the case of mangroves.


I am skeptical whether the creation of a new term will have any real meaning or results. Some may say that “sustainable development” is somewhat of an oxymoron. I might agree to some extent, but only because it may not be possible with the state of the world as it is.

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3 Responses

  1. Mohan Munasinghe says

    Yes indeed, Sustainomics principles show how mangroves (and other ecosystem resources)can be protected. The 650 page book (http://www.mindlanka.org/sustainomic.htm)has several chapters with case studies involving conservation of tropical forests, water resources, protected species, etc.
    Sustainomics was first proposed by me at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, and has seen almost 20 years of practical application in many countries. It is taught in several universities.To my knowledge, it is the first attempt to comprehensively define and make development more sustainable in all three major dimensions (economic, environmental and social).
    Let me know if you need more info.

  2. chewbear says

    I agree that efforts to make sense of it all is a step in the right direction, but it is such a complex issue that if we look to closely at some things, we might be missing other things that are part of the bigger picture. I haven’t read much of the book yet, but I’m interested in seeing how they develop this concept.

  3. Nat says

    An effort to systematize sustainable development and back it up with mathematics, in a framework similar to economics, seems like a step in the right direction, don’t you think? Without having read their book I can’t comment on the viability of their approach, but it certainly seems comprehensive and might hold some potential for tackling this topic in a more controlled way than previous approaches.