Radical sustainability

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Radical sustainability recognizes that a system is not sustainable if any part of it is unsustainable. An economy cannot be sustained if the underlying social structure is unsustainable. A social structure cannot be sustained if the environment it depends upon is unsustainable. Vice versa, we find that in our modern day the environment cannot be sustained unless proper economical and social practices are in place.

A radical sustainability viewpoint recognizes the inseparability of ecological and social issues and the necessity of ensuring the solution to one problem does not create or worsen another.[1]

The radical sustainable philosophy addressed problems of sustainability through a bottom-up approach - a form of "grass roots" sustainability.

Radical sustainability advocates and supports autonomous development, indigenous movements, women's rights, social justice and green practices.

There are those who note that radical sustainability is accepted as a general vision, indicating a complex process once it is translated to specific goals.[2] In terms of transitioning towards sustainable urban systems, a criticism also cites the inconsistency of its approaches with the established architecture making it less favorable.[3]


There are widespread examples of radical sustainability including open source ecology, rainwater harvesting (e.g. the projects by Brad Lancaster) and the Bushmen who live a life where social and environmental aspects are completely intertwined. Radical sustainability can also be used in the case of product-service system (PSS) but it is proposed that there is a need for a better understanding and wider perspective on system, which exceeds the purview of narrow business-client interaction along a value chain.[2] Empirical research also show that this concept is more prevalent in smaller firms, suggesting that there is a negative link between the radicality of sustainable innovation and firm size.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kellogg, S.; Pettigrew, S. (2008). Toolbox for sustainable city living. South end press, Massachusetts. ISBN 978-0896087804.
  2. ^ a b Tukker, Arnold; Tischner, Ursula (2017). New Business for Old Europe: Product-Service Development, Competitiveness and Sustainability. Oxon: Routledge. pp. 73, 364. ISBN 9781874719922.
  3. ^ Moore, Trivess; Haan, Fjalar de; Horne, Ralph; Gleeson, Brendan James (2017). Urban Sustainability Transitions: Australian Cases- International Perspectives. New York: Springer. pp. 131–132. ISBN 9789811047923.
  4. ^ Wüstenhagen, Rolf (2008). Sustainable Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing. p. 42. ISBN 9781848441552.

SteveKennedy, GailWhiteman, Jan van den Ende(2017), Radical Innovation for Sustainability: The Power of Strategy and Open Innovation, Volume 50, Issue 6, Pages 712-725, ISSN 0024-6301,