Holism and understanding sustainability

Bell, Simon and Morse, Stephen (2005). Holism and understanding sustainability. Systemic Practice and Action Research, 18(4) pp. 409–426.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11213-005-7171-9


In work undertaken in both Malta and Lebanon we have been reflecting on the current means by which the international community apply concepts intended to achieve what is called 'sustainable development'. In an attempt to make means and ends conform to each other we have developed an holistic approach to what is essentially a timeless need for understanding, systemic planning and compassionate stewardship. This essay indicates that we may be closer to holistic means with which to realise these goals than we know. It describes how some planning and analysis methods have their origins in ancient traditions. However, the milieu in which sustainability occurs is often unsympathetic to and sometimes incompatible with the ideals of holism. The essay assesses the current understanding of sustainability and points to the need for a wider and more inclusive base to contemporary sustainability as practiced in the community.

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