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1999 SQM: general descriptors of the 



O1 Environment The environmental component of Sustainability on the one hand demands conservation of the richness and the potentiality of our environment. On the other hand, it calls on us to respect the environmental and ecological principles, to respect and to sustain the functioning of ecological systems of which man is a part. Man has strongly shaped the environment, and therefore the term environment also encompasses the man-made environment.
O2 Economy The economic component of sustainability on the one side means the satisfaction of human needs, the conservation and improvement of (mainly material) well-being. On the other hand it also means respect for economic principles: efficient use of all kinds of resources is an essential aspect of sustainability.
O3 Socio-culture The conservation and development of human and social potentials is one side of this component. These potentials comprise all aspects of skills, knowledge, habits, beliefs, culture, institutions of human societies and also their individual members. The cultivation of these potentials on the other hand requires respect for the principles which are considered to be essential for the good functioning of our societies, such as the guarantee of human rights, democracy etc.
O4 Equity between individuals Equity between individuals, which encompasses equity between all humans regardless of their social situation, their gender or their ethnic or cultural background is an essential demand since the French revolution and has been a core issue in the development of western societies since the middle of the last century. It remains a central issue in the concept sustainable development. Equity is not equality (the original quest of the French revolution), the aim is not to abolish all differences, but opportunities should be equitably distributed. Solidarity is essential for improving equity.
O5 Equity between communities Equity between different regions and countries is a more recent concept. In a world in which interrelationships between different countries are continuously intensifying, the importance of this concept is growing. Equity for all humans becomes indivisible.
O6 Equity between generations The concern about future generations has been at the origin of the concept of sustainability. Equity between present and future generations, the principle of maintaining and increasing overall opportunities and options, is an aspect to be considered in all actions. However, there is no simple rule how changes in opportunities may be valued. The other SD components are needed for assessing developments in this sense.
O7 Diversity Diversity is an essential precondition for further development in all kinds of evolving systems. Biodiversity, economic diversity, diversity of cultures all stand for the ability of a system to maintain dynamic stability. Innovation and adaptation to new conditions is possible where different approaches and solutions can be combined to form new ones. Diversification therefore often is a strategy to increase long-term stability.
O8 Subsidiarity The principle of Subsidiarity basically demands that all kinds of functions be fulfilled at the lowest possible level and within small dimensions. Help or ruling from outside shall only intervene if this really helps to improve the fulfilment of the function and if this does not diminish the autonomy of the subsystem in a dangerous way. The principle of Subsidiarity originated in the catholic social teaching concerning the issue of social responsibility and social security, but it can be applied to all kinds of systems, such as politics, administration, business, technical systems, material flows in the economy etc. The principle does not give clear indications, it describes the tension between autonomy and integration into larger systems. Very different answers have been given to it. Often, clear-cut divisions of competencies are sought between different hierarchic levels and dimensions. However, in a world of rapidly growing complexity it is increasingly important to be able to understand and manage shared and negotiated responsibilities between several levels and dimensions. Old concepts of (national) sovereignty will have to be replaced by concepts of multi-level governance. Subsidiarity implies empowerment of individuals and communities to actively manage and control their own life. Subsidiarity nourishes democracy, by means of governance styles which allow citizens to determine every dimension of their common life and to improve their abilities to manage equitable social interactions Understanding subsidiarity seems to be one of the main challenges of the emerging concept of sustainable development. In transition times standards and margins have to be newly defined. Subsidiarity is not only an issue for political and social systems. Trends towards globalisation of economic flows and technological systems risk undermining the margins of autonomous political and economic decision mak
O9 Networking / Partnership The concept of networking stresses the importance of horizontal non-hierarchical relationships. A network is based on mutually agreed objectives and rules and is basically open: members can enter and leave. Networks ensure the exchange of experiences and information, organise mutual support, stabilise systems and evolve. Networks are subject to competition: members may change to other, more attractive networks. Flexibility and orientation towards the needs of the members is therefore essential for networks to survive. The concept of networking is not only relevant in social systems but also in biological and technical ones. The enormous success of the use of the networking concept in Information Technology parallel to its growing acceptance in all kinds of organisations is leading to a deep transformation of our societies.
O10 Participation All stakeholders concerned by an issue should have the opportunity to be involved in the relevant process of decision making. In the early stages of the formulation of a problem and the identification of alternative solutions such an involvement is particularly important. Participation corresponds to basic ideas of democracy, favours a diversity of approaches and may contribute to avoidance of conflicts. Participation strengthens the sense of responsibility, motivates people to make contribution and increases compliance with decisions taken. Participation on the other hand requires time and motivation among the participants, openness of the institutions involved and often more time and funding than exclusive hierarchical decision making. Depending on the adopted procedures it also risks decisions being taken which contradict experts views. Participation concerns the way of decision making in all kinds of social systems including business. It requires respect for different kinds of interests and points of view. Therefore it also favours in approach which integrates the different dimensions of Sustainable Development.



P1 Perception of a variety of development approaches In a dynamically changing and unpredictable environment the existence and perception of various approaches increases the capability to cope with change. With a multitude of approaches there is a greater chance that one of them prove to be particularly appropriate.
Furthermore competing approaches may challenge and fertilise each other and thereby provide a more innovative environment. Important prerequisites are:
  • openness towards different kinds of actors
  • cooperative competition which facilitates the emergence of new models of governance and self governance
P2 Creativity and innovation in an entreprenurial culture An essential feature of local development is a pervasive entrepreneurial culture in which people are used taking responsibility for their own destiny in a creative and proactive way. Innovations created in such an environment will be most successful and get most support if they contribute to the development of the community. Responsibility towards the community is therefore an essential element of an entrepreneurial culture which relies on local and regional potentials.
P3 Capacity to cope with complexity and ambiguity and to anticipate change As inter-regional and international interrelationships grow, successful self-governed development of local or regional communities requires an increasing capability to cope with complexity and ambiguity. Anticipation of change becomes more and more important in such an environment. The coexistence of different reference systems in a community between which individuals may alternate according to the situation, can be particularly helpful in coping with these challenges.
P4 Openness to enrich ones own culture and enhance multicultural cohesion Openness to other views and new solutions and the capability to adapt them is an essential feature of dynamically developing regions. Cohabitation of different cultures and their mutual learning stimulates innovation and creativity. Rooted identities are an important precondition for such openness.
P5 Discovery and re-encoding of territorial specificities and local knowledge Local knowledge and territorial specificities are often taken for granted and therefore neglected by the inhabitants of an area. In order to make a conscious and careful use of them they have to be rediscovered and re-interpreted in terms of present issues and in the context of Sustainable Regional Development.
P6 Ability to reach own optimal level of attainment and fulfilment A major strength of a region is the ability to develop fully the innate talents and capabilities of its inhabitants. Helping each to reach the optimum level not only of attainment but also of fulfilment means applying the principle of subsidiarity to the relationship between community and the individual. This may release considerable creative innovation contributing to regional development. A most important aspect of this is women's empowerment. Life long learning including of tacit skills is an essential prerequisite.
P7 Fractal distribution of competence using the counterflow principle According to the principle of subsidiarity responsibilities for all kinds of issues should be assigned to the lowest possible level. However, a strict separation of competencies often has proved to cause communication problems, irresponsible behaviour or unnecessary centralisation. More adequate is a differentiated system of multi-level governance. Every level should have some responsibility for every type of issue. Analogous to fractal structures in nature we can speak of a fractal distribution of competencies where every level has to deal with every category of problem but in a different order of magnitude and detail. Appropriate systems of setting rules (top-down), balanced by a counterflow of information and decision making (bottom-up) must be established and regularly reviewed by negotiation. Important aspects are:
  • early involvement of several administrative levels and dimensions
  • ability to think simultaneously at different levels and dimensions
  • multiple links between different levels and dimensions
P8 Autonomy of strategic decision making within a facilitating infrastructure Responsibility for one's own destiny and dynamic development can only grow where opportunity for autonomous decisionmaking is present. A facilitating infrastructure which does not rule but supports, may help considerably. This factor also includes:
  • opportunity for concrete and visible individual and social action
  • presence of local margins of action
  • open and flexible organisation
  • ability to change structures
P9 Primary reliance on own resources without compromising those of others Relying primarily on own resources strengthens identity, avoids equity problems, strengthens responsibility for the future and enhances self-governance. The synergetic use of human, natural and man-made indigenous resources is essential. On this basis each distinctive area may develop its own economy, culture and environment.
P10 Shared value system taking into account environmental, socio-cultural and economic interdependencies PA value system more or less shared by all members of a community is essential for coherent development. Explicitly or tacitly shared values facilitate decisionmaking, avoid conflicts and may help to gather forces for a common goal. Sustainable Development cannot be imposed by external rules. It requires that environmental, socio-cultural and economic interdependencies and qualities be integrated in a shared value system. E.g. in a community where "environmental quality" is integrated into the social value system, people's everyday decisions will be guided towards care of the environment, they will support actions in this direction and criticise what goes against. The social perception of ecological limits is an important element of caring for the environment.
P11 Social cohesion Local or regional development strongly relies on non-traded interactions and relationships. Trust and mutual support are essential elements which favour entrepreneurial dynamics. Social cohesion facilitates taking and absorbing risks, motivates and makes possible common action. Attachment and pride in place, public discussion on values and the capacity to develop a shared vision are essential aspects of this factor.
P12 Opportunities and room for equitable interaction Partnership and participation in a social system require adequate opportunities and procedures at the community level, a culture of mutual respect as well as individual capabilities. This factor includes:
  • mutual learning, (moderation, negotiation) and acceptance
  • autonomy of partners and negotiated responsibilities
  • development of a negotiation culture
P13 Capacity for creating shared visions The capability of a community to develop and share coherent long term visions is essential for self-governance and coherent collective action. If visions are not shared or not coherent, courses of action will be contradictory, dissipate forces and invite external ruling to improve effectiveness. This factor requires
  • the capability of long term strategic thinking
  • the development of transdisciplinary cooperation and approaches
  • the possibility for the public to participate in goal setting processes
  • the support of competing and alternative development projects/approaches
P14 Integration of social and technical skills into the innovation process Innovations always have social and technical aspects which, however, are often considered separately. Conscious integration of social and technical learning and skills into the innovation process at all stages can considerably improve the appropriateness and success of innovations. Such an integration may minimise frictions, conflicts and failures associated with change.
P15 Access to information and to the arena of dialogue and debate In order to make possible the participation of all stakeholders in collective decisionmaking processes, adequate access to the arena must be ensured. An essential precondition is the transparency of decisions and open access to information. In order to motivate people to raise their voice and to avoid deception it is important to make clear what really can be influenced. Finally, control of opportunistic behaviour is necessary for avoiding abuse and deterioration of opportunities for participation.
P16 Multiplicity of interactions, enhanced by local actors Liveliness, diversity and opportunities for participation in a community grow on the basis of a multiplicity of different kinds of interactions. Animators who help growing local initiatives and developing networks, and who know how to organise external support, are extremely helpful in this respect. Animation and motivation can release unexpected creativity and skills. It is important that these animators be embedded in the local interaction and act as development and change agents.

DYNAMICS aspects

D1 Enhancing problem understanding Focusing on an improvement of problem understanding is often a prerequisite for further action which leads to actual changes. Such a strategy can include a wide range of actions from "awareness raising" to research. However, problem perception depends on a person's role and is somehow culturally shaped.
D2 Open collective learning Learning is personal and a social process which can be facilitated. Learning may range from simple imitation over creative adaptation to very innovative recombination of different skills and experiences. Openness to experiences of other individuals, other regions and other cultures can be very helpful and speed up the finding of solutions for recognised problems. Such openness combined with self-reflection and confidence in one's own identity is an important source of innovation. Elements of a strategy of encouraging open collective learning could include: strengthening the identity by identifying the own specificities, exchanging experiences, learning how to manage creative adaptation, making accessible interesting examples.
D3 Negotiation and co-decision Self-governance of communities relies on their capability to reach reliable agreements. Negotiations including all stakeholders concerned are essential for gaining large support, durable decisions and equitable solutions. Adequate procedures and skills are needed for negotiating, a negotiation strategy has to cultivate these prerequisites. Negotiation is an essential strategy element for making possible Participation, Partnership and Subsidiarity. Proposing negotiation means accepting that there are different views and interests that have some stake and that should be integrated in a decisionmaking process. Negotiation makes sense only if at the end there stands some kind of co-decision.
D4 Creation of a shared vision Development is shaped by an endless stream of mini-decisions which are largely determined by the visions of the decision-makers. Without some kind of shared vision no coherent objectives and strategy can be formulated and implemented. A shared vision can be created in many ways. Depending on the issue and the group/ community it may take days or years. Visions may have very different degrees of concreteness. Appropriate methods for creating visions include scenario building, discussion on best practices and public debates.
D5 Client orientation In a general sense of client orientation all strategies should consider carefully the interests, the needs and the capabilities of their target group. In a more narrow sense, a client-oriented strategy may directly start from the requests of the target group and involve it directly in the formulation of the action.
D6 Result orientation For learning, and for making responsibility more operational, transparency, self-reflection and feedback concerning objectives, actions and achievements are important. Systematic approaches can be helpful:
- to formulate objectives in terms of concrete results and effects and to revise them when necessary
- to monitor achievements and difficulties
- to evaluate results and effects.
Self-reflection is essential for learning. Transparency on objectives and achievements is essential for participation