Planning for sustainable development: a paradigm shift towards a process-based approach

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Abstract

Prevailing approaches of planning and strategy making, which traditionally deal with the states of systems in terms of fixed goals, fail to acknowledge the process nature of sustainable development. Using a system dynamics approach and relying on the concept of viability loops, the paper aims to illustrate a practical implementation of sustainable development with an urban water system as an example. It argues that planning for sustainable development should be ‘process-based’ – rather than ‘fixed-goal’ – oriented. Unlike the traditional approaches of strategy making to set fixed goals related to either supply-side and/or demand-side management, it is argued that triggering a social learning process with full involvement of all stakeholders and planners in the process would be the most suitable strategy for sustainable development. To this end, backcasting is recommended as a suitable tool and the process of model building is regarded as a means of learning rather than forecasting. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.

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