Keywords: sustainability reframing, sustainability models, sustainable development, sustainability economics, economic policy, sustainability definition, resilient economy, sustainable economy, sustainability cornerstones, planetary limits, environmental stewardship, ecosystem stewardship, green economics
Reframing economic policy towards sustainability
Over the last quarter century, since the Brundtland Commission proposed their definition of 'sustainable development', the dialogue about sustainability has failed to reduce the threat that human activities pose to the global ecosystem. The time has come to question deep–rooted assumptions, including the role of economics. In this paper, priorities are re–examined and principles developed to be able to build a sustainable economy. It is argued that sustainability economics is subservient to society's higher objectives and is about control and balance, rather than laissez–faire free markets. A new definition and conceptual model for sustainability is proposed that is closer to reality than the traditional models having cornerstones of 'culture', 'land', 'population' and 'energy'. Using this model allows economic policy to be repositioned in support of the needs of society and compliant with effective stewardship of the ecosystem to deliver a resilient economy operating within planetary limits.