What Does Sustainability Mean?

Fazenda Sagarana, Bahia, Brasil in the Mata Atlântica©2017 Clay Gordon
Definitions matter and what big chocolate means when they talk about being or becoming sustainable may surprise you.

What does it mean to be sustainable?

The simplest way, I have found, to talk about the concept is to invoke the future. When I talk about sustainable cocoa I talk about three things.

  1. Environmental Sustainability. By this I mean that the cocoa trees and their supporting and dependent ecosystems will be healthy and productive 100 years from now. (The 100 year timeline is not literal - I am referring to future generations here.)
  2. Economic Sustainability. By this I mean that there will be cocoa farmers 100 years from now. Cocoa needs to generate enough income for it to be interesting to farm. There needs to be enough money in the system to take care of the trees (see point 1), for farmers to support themselves and their families, and to attract new farmers.
  3. Social Sustainability. By this I mean that farm families exist within communities and those communities need to be healthy and thriving 100 years from now.

When big chocolate talks about being or becoming sustainable, they are probably talking about the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A few of these map directly to mine, but many address broader topics - things like gender equality, food security, and more. It's also important to remember that these are goals that will never be fully met; there will always be room for improvement.

What are your thoughts on what sustainable means to you and what are your thoughts on the UN SDGs?


#sustainable #sustainability

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