Exploring The New Dimensions Of Sustainability

Posted by Nimish Khandelwal on

Shivam Pathak

Typically, sustainability is viewed as a framework for developing economic and social policies that are in harmony with environmental considerations. The traditional definition of sustainability remains disputed for certain cases; thus a fresh conceptual framework is required to solve sustainability challenges. Sustainability could be better understood in terms of ‘Place’, ‘Permanence’, and ‘Persons’. Place contains the three dimensions of space, Permanence is the fourth dimension of time, and the Persons represents a fifth, human dimension. The five-dimensional sustainability can be viewed as a novel approach to develop better policies . The sustainability triangle formed by ‘Place’ ‘Permanence’, and ‘Persons’ as its vertices can explain the sustainability using the five dimensions.


People frequently consider their surroundings in which they live as a indispensable part of their life. There is much more to places than just bare geographic areas. They include the dimensions of nature that are spatialized, timed, sensed, and embodied. Therefore, places are a source of information about facts, identities, and behaviours. They also include information about culture, regional customs, and the physical and mental well-being of people. This common space could be a crucial component of social bonding. Place is, in part, a social construct that aids in fostering a feeling of identity within a particular culture. On the other hand, it is also possible to make the case that culture is defined in terms of certain locations.

Place plays an important role in peoples’ life and is shares a bond of love and belonging but the concept of place only encompasses the narrow field of intra-generational equity.


Permanence is not only mere maintenance of present conditions. It incorporates adjustments and enhancements. The key area of intergenerational equity might be permanence. The sustainability debate has always recognized the importance of long-term planning. But planning has far too frequently been given a supporting role. Therefore, planning and considering how today's acts and inactions will affect the future are of utmost importance in the dimension of permanence. It appears especially relevant to deal with questions relating to our material legacy and personal transcendence when temporal considerations are explicitly included. A place's sense of identity is frequently tied to events that took place at various, occasionally distant dates. In light of this, it may be argued that the concept of location itself is incomplete until we attach to it a certain temporal component. Time is more than just a backdrop for activity and communication. Instead, it is intimately linked to place, societal structures, and specific people.

However, for many people, a world defined entirely in terms of geography and permanency can be a very depressing one. Slavery, torture, dictatorship, and other atrocities committed by humans that are so dispersed throughout time and space can never be deemed "sustainable." For these reasons, the concept of sustainability should have a "personal" component. Regardless of how hazy and contentious this dimension's definition may be, it appears to be essential for addressing concerns regarding identity, values, rights, happiness, and overall wellbeing.


The environmental movement has played a role in the emergence of societal and personal identity in recent decades. However, due to environmental concerns, the belief that governments and businesses could resolve social and environmental concerns somehow diminished throughout time. According to research, individuals are using their senses more frequently to recognize the existence and seriousness of environmental concerns. There is a common belief that people lack personal agency, which is thought to be the cause of the growing mistrust toward politicians and the objectivity of "others" in general (including businesses, the media, etc.).

If people and society are combined into one dimension, the complexity of human behaviour and the significance of interpersonal interactions for sustainability may be missed. The sustainability triangle's explicit consideration of individual factors, or "personscapes," might be interpreted as a challenge to the notion that nature and civilization are diametrically opposed forces. People, who are vital in the creation, preservation, and shaping of culture, are hence partially to blame for the development of a culture-dependent conception of nature. Therefore, from a personal perspective, it would likewise be challenging to "neatly separate mind and body" from nature and society.

The traditional conception of sustainable development suffers from a variety of conceptual flaws and falls short in capturing some spatial, temporal, and individual dimensions; thus the five-dimensional concept serves as a better version for overcoming the limitations of traditional concept and provide a new horizon for the sustainable development. The idea of sustainability is heavily influenced by cultural and environmental factors, therefore, it is not only impossible, but also undesirable, to agree on a single definition.