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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10204/4574

Title: Thinking about sustainable development: Engaging with societal and ecological concepts
Authors: Marais, MA
Keywords: Sustainable development
ICT4D
Resilience
Ecological concepts
Societal concepts
Issue Date: Nov-2010
Citation: Marais, MA. 2010. Thinking about sustainable development: Engaging with societal and ecological concepts. Proceedings of the 4th International IDIA Development Informatics Conference, UCT, Cape Town, South Africa, 3 - 5 November 2010, pp 20
Series/Report no.: Conference Paper
Abstract: The concept of sustainable development has increased in importance ever since the coming to prominence of environmental critiques of development in the 1980s. The very concept of sustainability has evolved as research on the dynamics of ecological systems challenged the dominance of the stable equilibrium view that underpinned the thinking about sustainable ecological systems and led to the emergence of resilience thinking. The concept of resilient systems has been rapidly adopted in many areas, including business, and has been discussed in the ICT for development (ICT4D) field as well. Resilience thinking is based upon three key concepts: people exist within and depend on social-ecological systems, these systems are complex adaptive systems (CAS) that can exist in alternative stable states or regimes in which the function, structure and feedbacks are different and resilience is the key to the sustainability of these systems. Resilience is the capacity of a system to absorb disturbance; to undergo change and still retain essentially the same function, structure and feedbacks. One of the major implications of resilience thinking for ICT4D is that the resilience/efficiency trade-off focuses attention on the common driving force experienced by ICT4D projects to find a unique, most cost-efficient or 'sustainable' model, instead of exploring and establishing a diversity of models that would increase long term resilience. A resilience perspective highlights the importance of 'economies of scope' strategies in, for example, providing ICT services in resource constrained environments. The concept of panarchy (linked set of hierarchies) focuses attention on the various linked scales in any ICT4D system and the possible impact of modularity and feedback loops on the systems resilience. Recommendations for future research include the use of resilience thinking (with its emphasis on systems dynamics) to improve the assessment of the sustainability of ICT4D projects.
Description: Proceedings of the 4th International IDIA Development Informatics Conference, UCT, Cape Town, South Africa, 3 - 5 November 2010
URI: http://www.developmentinformatics.org/conferences/2010/papers/marais.pdf
http://hdl.handle.net/10204/4574
ISBN: 978-0-620-47590-7
Appears in Collections:Resource-based sustainable development
Sustainability science
General science, engineering & technology

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