Inclusive and Sustainable Territories and Landscapes Platform

Systemic sustainability


FAO promotes the long-term development of the territory, opening the strategic focus from economic sustainability to social and environmental sustainability

Conceptual framework

The challenges associated with a systemic approach are global in scope and require: high levels of institutional requirements; collaboration between sectors and different administrative levels within the territory; social responsibility; capacity for commitment; and economic, financial, social, employment, and environmental frameworks that are solid, transparent and coordinated.

The “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” (General Assembly of the UN, 2015) makes it clear that for it is necessary to eradicate poverty in order for development to be sustainable. A solid sustainable development agenda focuses on economic growth, social and environmental sustainability, known as the three criteria for sustainability.

  • Economic sustainability requires structural reforms and investments that lead to robust, inclusive growth. The systemic approach of integrated development begins with the identification of the current evolution of local systems and production clusters, paying special attention to competitive strategies based on incorporating innovations.
  • Social sustainability has the objective of eliminating poverty through equality (as a guarantee of equal opportunities and a fair distribution of the benefits generated by economic growth) and social inclusion (as a guarantee of the shared prosperity of all the citizens in a territory and as a requirement for social cohesion).
  • Environmental sustainability involves a rational, responsible use of resources and the natural systems that sustain us, as well as its preservation. 

Systemic territorial competitiveness (Esser and others, 1996) takes into consideration not only purely commercial or economic activities, but also institutional capacities, employment conditions, security, justice, transparency, relational capital, networks, quality of life, and respect for the environment.

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