Cities as Forces for Good Network

Sustainability Concepts Paper

Papers · September 7th, 2011

Press Release

Cities as Forces for Good in the Environment: Sustainability in the Water Sector

AbstractExecutive SummaryEntirety

Begun as the Background Discussion Document for the First International Water Association (IWA) Leading Edge Sustainability (LES) Conference, this is the culmination of nine years of work. It also benefits from a career in Systems Thinking. Yet Beck is an Engineer; and Engineers rarely publish Concepts Papers. This one necessarily has to embrace all of the Triple Bottom Lines of social legitimacy, economic feasibility, and environmental benignity — and express them seamlessly. The experience has been an unending quest for Beck (and remains so); a path without end; a path without intellectual bumps. From neuroscience, personal well-being, human motivation, and a refurbished pluralist democracy, through the grand economic program of our writing “last environmental wills and testaments”, to the business of bio-diversity in ecosystem services, and the City as a Force for Good in the Environment — the goal of this intellectual odyssey has been to compose a Paper without borders between disciplines. Nothing less should be expected of Sustainability: a BIG idea; an overwhelming task for any author, of producing a “Manual of Practice for the Whole of Life”.

So this is not just about “concepts”, nor just about a Triple Bottom Line of the distant, inter-generational future, not just about a conjectured TBLfuture. The Sustainability Concepts Paper records who in 2011 — businesses, public utilities, non-governmental organizations, social entrepreneurs — is achieving the most at the frontiers of practice. Indeed, it reveals where this TBLfrontier is reaching beyond the imagination of any conceptual TBLfuture. “Arise then the self-confident Engineer!”, says Bruce Beck. It is time for Engineers and Engineering to play their vital, inimitable parts in the great sustainability debate and experience of this new millennium.

For More Information:

The Sustainability Concepts Paper — “Cities as Forces for Good in the Environment: Sustainability in the Water Sector” — can be accessed as an Abstract, an Executive Summary, in its Entirety, or in individual chapters:

Chapter 1 - Introduction

Chapter 2 - Engineering Water and Sustainability

Chapter 3 - The Triple Bottom Line

Chapter 4 - Adaptive Community Learning

Chapter 5 - Present and Future TBL

Chapter 6 - Frontiers of Practice

Chapter 7 - Thought and Action

The Sustainability Concepts Paper is the second in Bruce Beck’s Trilogy. Part 1 of the Trilogy is the White Paper prepared for the US National Science Foundation: Grand Challenges for Environmental Modeling. Part 3 of the Trilogy will address critical issues of “Handling Uncertainty in Models at the Science-Policy Interface”. For more information contact us at

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