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«CSAAR (7: 2010: Amman) Sustainable Architecture and Urban Development \ Edited by Steffen Lehmann, Husam Al Waer, Jamal AI-Qawasmi. Amman: The Center ...»

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3 Potentials of Sustainability Pentagon as a SD Implementation Framework

Based on the aforementioned examples of SO implementation obstacles and the overall ineffectiveness of SO programs, especially in the developing world, this paper contends that SO implementation and achievements will be greatly enhanced if policies and programs are designed or formulatcd on the sustainability pentagon framework prescribed and illustrated in Figure 2. The intent and purpose of the pentagon are to integrate, balance and harmonize the principles of SO into policies, programs and projects designed to make communities livable and sustainable. The rationale for both the Enlightenment and Engagement principles are discussed in greater detail elsewhere by this author (Kolo, 2009). Suffice it to say that, SO implementation must go beyond Jerry Kolo, Ph.D the c1assical 3-E principles in Figure I to include the additional principles prescribed in the sustainability pentagon in Figure 2. Table 1 is a summary of some of the fundamental potentials, hence advantages, of the additional principles. These advantages are assured to add great value to SD implementation at the local level, especially in local communities across the developing world Table 1: Value-added Advantages ofthe Enlightenment and Engagement

–  –  –

Besides the advantages of the sustainability pentagon enumerated in Table J, the pentagon will also address, from a pragmatic standpoint, what this paper considers to be some major weaknesses of extant SD initiatives, especially at the international and national levels. One example of such weaknesses is the very elitist, one-way and to-down approach to SD policy rnaking and programming.

Generally, policy agreements are reached at the international and national levels with little or no input or participation by the masses that would be affected by those policies. The Engagement principle of the sustainability pentagon is intended to address this weakness. A second weakness, which both the Engagement and Enlightenment principles aim to address, is the sheer ignorance or unawareness of grassroots citizens in some parts of the world about SD policies and programs, which are targeted at them. In most parts of the developing world, there are inadequate media to reach the masses. Yet, where media exist, bureaucratic ineptitude, political corruption and infrastructure deficiencies make genuine information dissemination impossible. A third example is illiteracy, which miIitates against fuH comprehension of global concepts, such as sustainability, by rural masses. In an Internet survey conducted in preparing this paper, it was discovered that many ethnic groups in Africa lack precise diction that is the equivalency of sustainability, or of its allied concepts, such as Millennium Development Goals, global warming, etcetera. In the survey, while respondents of the Arabic, Persian, Bulgarian and Spanish ethnicities stated categorically that they have specific words for the SD terms listed in the survey, it was interesting 10 note that many other ethnicities, including French and German are quite 'sensitive' to the context in which most terms are used, while most African languages simply had to use stories, similes and allegories to convey the meanings of the terms Iisted in the survey. For example, the colour green in the Yoruba and Nupe languages of Nigeria is compared to a 'leaf', while the word development is understood through the concept of 'moving', 'advancing', or 'progressing' forward. Sustainability implies longevity of life, while there is simply no word for millennium, as is also the case in the Sotho language of South Africa. Thus, combining 'green' or 'sustainable' and 'development' would require stories or even allegories in order to grasp the meaning of sustainable development or other allied concepts. A fourth example is the lack of procedural or institutional frameworks for citizens to learn about, and participate in, sustainability issues and causes. A fifth, albeit not final, example is the de facta superciliousness of foreign, mainly Western, sustainability initiatives, compared to indigenous initiatives.

The weaknesses exemplified above are just a few of several, whieh make SD implementation very problematie and ineffeetive in many parts of the developing world. Among the practieal values of the sustainability pentagon proposed in this paper is that it forces SD poliey makers and technocrats to pond er and ask so me poignant questions about the feasibility of each SD poliey formulated, and eaeh program and project undertaken. Besides poliey making, the questions would help with 'realistic' SD planning, implementation and funding. Examples of such questions are as folIows, based on the 5-E sustainability principles of the 444 Jerry Kolo, Ph.D sustainability pentagon. All the questions are relevant and applicable to all SD policies, programs and projects in communities worldwide.

Environment - What are the real and potential impacts of a policy or activity on society's natural resourees or capital and by what factors ean these impacts be disaggregated?

Eeonomy - How does a poliey or aetivity address soeiety's need for eeonomie growth that respeets the environment yet ereates a healthy employment and revenue base for the soeiety at large?

Equity Does a poliey or aetivity make or eontain realistie provisions or eonditions to provide eitizens with equal and just opportunities to participate in poliey or program implementation, and to aeeess or enjoy the benefits aeeruing from their participation?

Enlightenment - Are there mechanisms in plaee to inform and edueate all interested stakeholders about all aspeets of a poliey or aetivity in a timely manner?

Engagement - Does a poliey or aetivity make praetical room or arrangement for all the community stakeholders, who ehoose to participate in the opportunities provided by the poliey or aetivity?

4 Conclusion There is no dearth of aeademic and professional evaluation studies of SD pro grams and initiatives anywhere in the world. As noted in tbis paper, however, littIe seems to be oeeurring in the area of formulating proeedural models tbat eould help implement SD programs more eost-effeetively, irrespeetive of differenees in political and eultural contexts and realities. One of the positions in this paper is that frameworks for SD poliey making, planning and implementation need to be broad and integrative, striking a consistent balance among the sustainability principles discussed in the paper. The paper also eontended that current SD initiatives are skewed toward the environment and the eeonomy, almost to the detriment of the other principles. In spite of the environmental and economie benefits of prevailing initiatives, such as green development, the 'tilt' of initiatives toward the built environment has serious negative implications for SD implementation, especially in the rural eommunities of the developing world, where iIliteraey and political disenfranehisement give eitizens no stake whatsoever in the processes of SD poliey making, planning and implementation. In these communities as weH, the SD initiatives eurrentIy practieed to achieve the environment and eeonomy principles and goals of SD are mostly culturaHy irrelevant, cost-prohibitive, or little understood or known about. It is in the atlempt to address these problems that this paper proposes the sustainability pentagon as a SD planning and implementation framework, with special emphasis on the enlightenment and engagement prineiples.

Sustainable Architecture and Urban Development 445 This paper submits that there are ardent advocates for the enlightenment and engagement principles featured in the sustainability pentagon, as critical factors required for SD implementation in communities where poverty, degradation of natural capital and population pressure are among the forces undermining people's ability to live to live decent, fulfilling and quality lives. Speaking on the need for enlightenment or education, for example, the Independent Commission

on Population and Quality of Life (1996: 170, 171) noted that:

Education is one of the keys to social deve\opment, and to virtually every aspect of the quality of life. Education is about developing intellectual curiosity and enquiry. Education improves the quality of life and empowers people to solve all kinds of sodal and environmental problems.... Education also equips people to participate effectively in democracy and to assert their political and legal rights. In a world confronted by many complex challenges and contlicts, education becomes more and more critical in the development of skiIls and attitudes in order to analyze problems and find solutions.

Equally forceful on the need for engagement or participation, particularly in reference to green development, are Roseland (2005) and Randolph (2004). The

latter stated that:

The process for developing an open space/greenway plan should be highly participatory. By engaging public stakeholders in plan development, the plan can retlect community needs and desires and stands a greater chance of acceptance.

The participation process can also serve to inform the public of the benefits of open space and environmental protection and its connection to other community goals (ibid:96, 97).

It is important to state that, the desirability and advantages of enlightenment and engagement do not make them any easier to implement or achieve in the 'real' world. As Porter (2000:2) noted quite tersely, "translating the lofty ideals of sustainability into the rough-and-tumble world of everyday development can be a daunting task." A foremost implication of this task is for all societal stakeholders to work collaboratively in all aspects and facets ofSD planning and implementation. The top-down, elitist approach alluded to in this paper has not been ineffective in securing the buy-in and shared responsibility required of all community stakeholders. The types of collaborative approaches required to implement SD initiatives cost-effectively already exist in most communities and, as Sachs (2008) suggested at the global level, all the world needs is to "rejuvenate, modernize, and extend" global cooperation to address SD challenges. The enlightenment and engagement principles of the sustainability pentagon have the potentials to keep all stakeholders informed, involved and accountable. These initiatives are not color-coded, but they complement and enhance color-coded SD initiatives, making SD implementation the integrative process it must be to be effective.

Jerry Kolo, Ph.D


Bressers, H. A. & Rosenbaum, W. A. (2003). Social Scales, Sustainability, and Govemance: An Introduction. In H. A. Bressers & W. A. Rosenbaum (Eds.), Achieving Sustainable Development: The Challenge of Govemance Across Social Scales (pp.3 - 23). Westport, CT: Praeger.

Conway, R. (2010). Banana futures in Kamataka.

http://www.thenational.ae/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AlD=/201 0031 IfLIFEI7 03109976/1196 (accessed March 11,2010) Henrique Cardoso, F. (2002). Changing the Paradigm. Our Planet, J3(2), 6-7.

Independent Commission on Population and Quality of Life (1996). Caring for the Future: Making the Next Decades Provide a Life W orth Living.

New York: Oxford University Press.

James, S. & Lahti, T. (2004). The Natural Step for Communities: How Cities and Towns Can Change to Sustainable Practices. Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Publishers.

Kolo, J. (2009). Broadening the conceptual framework for addressing the conundrum of sustainable development in Africa. In A. Ahmed and S.

Nwankwo (Eds.). Achieving Sustainable Development in Africa:

Science, Technology and Innovation Trajectory (pp. 247 - 261).

London: W orld Association for Sustainable Development (WASD).

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Washington, D.C.: The Urban Land Institute.

Randolph, J. (2004). Environmental Land Use Planning and Management.

Washington, DC: Island Press.

Roseland, M. (2005). Toward Sustainable Communities: Resources for Citizens and their Govemments (revised ed.). Gabriola lsland, BC, Canada: New Society Publishers.

Sachs, J. D. (2008). Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet. New Y ork: The Penguin Press.

(UN-Habitat) Uni ted Nations Human Settlements Programme (2009). Planning Sustainable Cities: Global Report on Human Settlements 2009. Nairobi, Kenya.

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