Kathrin Winkler, VP and CSO at EMC, offered An idea for 2013: Crowdsourcing “sustainability” this morning at GreenBiz.com. It’s worth reading.

Would that I had a dollar,

she said,

for every panel discussion in which the moderator says something like “everyone has their own definition of ‘sustainability’ and no two agree.”

And concluded by asking

What do you think — do we need a shared definition, or should we continue to tailor the talk to the audience? Which definitions work for you? Any others you’ve heard that you like?

Here’s the comment I posted in response:

Thanks for raising the questions, Kathrin. Defining sustainability has been challenging people for a very long time.

Here’s how we addressed it in the Sustainable Business: Declaration of Leadership” poster: “…doing business in ways that preserve, protect and ultimately enhance the living systems – of this region, and the planet – that sustain our business and the larger human economy…. in a way that support our economic well being, and the economic well being of those who depend on us….”

Also long, but very directionally specific and therefore testable (in a way that most sustainability definitions are not): the Natural Step “System conditions”, which define the “basic conditions that must be met if we want to maintain the essential natural resources, structures and functions that sustain human society.”

But lately I’ve been liking the simplest and shortest definition, courtesy of the folks at Global Footprint: “one planet.”

And I guess I owe her a dollar.

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