Using critical systems thinking to foster an integrated approach to sustainability: A proposal for development practitioners

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Journal Article
Environment, Development and Sustainability, 2011, 13 (1), pp. 1 - 17
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Throughout the development sector, there is increasing recognition of links between the environment and aspects of development such as poverty alleviation, health, income generation, and agriculture. While furnished with a diverse range of perspectives and approaches, development practice is in need of ways to better conceptualize the interactions between the social, environmental, and economic dimensions of sustainability so that opportunities for simultaneous impro nities to nurture both human and ecosystem well-being. Four desirable attributes of a critical systems thinking approach to development are identified based on development literature, critical systems literature, and the author's research into sustainability in semi-rural communities in Vietnam. The four attributes are 'a systems thinking approach;' 'an ethical base to action and choices;' 'critical reflection permeates processes;' and 'appreciation of diverse views and application of diverse approaches.' These attributes are described and then offered as the basis for further discussion of the ways in which simultaneous improvement of human well-being and ecosystem health can become an integral part of development practice. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
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