Tag Archives: sustainability

Emotions and Sustainability

Lately, I have been hearing a lot about the importance of working with emotions in sustainability.

In particular, that sustainable development depends on one’s emotional capacity to deal with the impacts of climate change and other difficult socio-cultural and environmental disasters. In other words, we need a sort of emotional resilience to be able to stay positive, pro-active and deal with climate change.

It has made me reflect on some of the typical reactions we have when we hear about the uncomfortable realities associated with climate change and other impacts:

  • ignorance – the facts are wrong!
  • depression/negativity – what can i do if it is already too late?
  • apathy – doesn’t affect me!
  • fear – head in the sand…another type of ignorance

These are reactions that make us freeze, and not do anything; continue as always and hope the issue will go away.

So what will help us be pro-active and take responsibility for our own actions?

Could it be emotions or being emotional? In other words, recognizing our emotions, accepting that we are emotional beings, expressing our emotions and working through them and supporting others to do the same.

Based on my previous experiences in sustainability, I do believe that there is some truth to this theory. There is a very personal piece of the sustainability puzzle that is related to a person’s beliefs, culture, and values. These some how shape our experiences: thoughts, feelings, wants…etc.

“Changing is not just changing the things outside of us.” Thich Nhat Hanh

I do think there is something key in the above quote… a need to look inside, in particular, about what is going on for me right now in my life, what do i really feel when i hear about negative impacts, and how does that make me act/react. What is it that motivates us to take action?

The root of the word emotion is to move. So perhaps emotions do have the potential to make us move and act for a more sustainable world.



Community Mapping & Representativity

Community Mapping, originally uploaded by sonja.janousek.

I was recently facilitating a workshop to develop a socio-economic monitoring system for 3 communities in forest conservation project that pays them to protect their forest and avoid extraction. Continue reading

Learning About Sustainability 2, Puna Island

Sustainable Beach Management Project: We often think about economic, societal and environmental dimensions separately. Sustainability asks us to think systematically, to understand the relationships between these dimensions and how activities in one area cause reactions and effects (positive and negative) in another. Sometimes demonstrating the relationship actively can help to develop understanding among individuals. And it can be fun too!Learning About Sustainability, originally uploaded by sonja.janousek.

Here on Puna Island a facilitator uses 3 ropes tied together and a tug of war between economic, environmental and societal forces to demonstrate tensions that can be produced when decisions are made unbalanced.

Learning About Sustainability, Puna Island

Sustainable Beach Management Project: Until recent efforts to bring tourism to their virgin beaches, communities on Puna Island lived relatively isolated from the rest of Ecuador and the world. The Sustainable Beach Management Program (POP), working since 2007 on the island, aims to assist community members in the development of activities that conserve natural resources and raise awareness about the fragility of their island, mangrove environment. Continue reading

Sustainability processes and the private sector

Eco-efficiency Program: How can we increase the private sector´s participation in sustainability?A reflection on actual practices, values and commitment to sustainability might be a good place to start.In 2007-8 I worked for an environmental consultancy in Ecuador with the philosophy: we practice what we preach. As this is no easy feat, they hired me to assist them with this process and develop a similar program for businesses and offices interested in doing something positive for the environment. Continue reading

Introducing the blog: Constructing Knowledge for Sustainable Development

Welcome to my blog: 

This is a space for reflective thinking and sharing of experiences, ideas and methodologies that assist in going beyond understanding sustainability to implementing it in our daily lives.The world is filled with complexity and contradiction among social, environmental and economic impacts can make decision making for a sustainable future difficult. So our challenge is to create practical decision making frameworks that simply help us make better decisions. Rather than discuss and debate theoretical concepts of and about sustainable development, the objective of facilitating this virtual space is to compile information that is relevant, inspiring and practical for practitioners in all areas and sectors.

The question I wish to answer is: How can we make better decisiones when it comes to sustainability?