When students learn about sustainability in colleges and universities, they often are taught this Venn diagram early on in their studies, which displays sustainable development as the overlap of three intersecting human spheres. This diagram illustrates that sustainable community development is only achievable through reconciliation of the social, economic and environmental imperatives. However, so often, we find that our government departments and agencies, and university disciplines are stovepiped and siloed, working against integrated decision-making.
Hope is on the horizon. Last week, the Welsh Government decided to break through these silos and establish one of the first public bodies in the world that considers social, economic and environmental benefit together in the management of natural resources. This may also help to reveal the co-benefits of implementing sustainable community development with other sectors, one of the research outcomes of our MC3 climate change adaptation and mitigation. For example, increases in air quality, and thus public health, are co-benefits of reducing local industrial emissions, and, as another example, decreases in household and municipal operations expenditures occur with the implementation of energy efficiency initiatives.