Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


The Three Levels of Sustainability

April 2012

As an introduction to and road map for sustainability aimed at the uninitiated, The Three Levels of Sustainability 'aims to provide the missing link in current debates around sustainability'.

That missing link is clearly described as the consideration of links generally: between profit and social value, between inequality and global economic changes, between the environment and questions of organisation. In short, the authors approach sustainability with the 'holistic' approach so much in vogue with other CSR books.

Cavagnaro and Curiel, however, are far more precise on what they specifically mean by holistic thinking on sustainability than other authors. To wit, their contention is that a sustainable society will fundamentally be the result of interactions between economic, environmental and social value at every level of its efforts – the individual, the organisational and the social.

Although the book has an impressive scope, of particular value to readers will be its thoughts on the first of these levels, the individual, or more specifically on the issue of leadership.

 With a historical approach typical of the whole, the book's section on this issue introduces some concepts as a part of a road map to 'transformational leadership'. Here the authors deal with some potentially fatuous distinctions with considerable finesse and outline a strategy for 'making leadership sustainable' that could surely be of practical use.

Elsewhere, The Three Levels of Sustainability gives a rigorous and cogent introduction to a wealth of other pressing concerns, bringing to them a thoroughgoing and contextual level of incision that cuts through the usual layers of meaninglessness usually surrounding such issues.

Ben Hickman

The Three Levels of Sustainability, Elena Cavagnaro and George Curiel, Greenleaf Publishing, 2012, 330 pages, £21.95

Ben Hickman | UK & NI Ireland | Sustainability

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