Systemic sustainability is a process of development—individual, organizational, or societal—involving an adaptive strategy of emergence that ensures the evolutionary maintenance of an increasingly robust and supportive environment. Systemic sustainability goes beyond the triple bottom line and embraces “the possibility that human and other forms of life will flourish on the Earth forever” as beautifully expressed by John Ehrenfeld. Adam Werbach defines a sustainable business as one capable of “thriving in perpetuity.” Systemic sustainability is about developing this capacity so that all human systems can co-exist in partnership with the living systems of our planet.
Systemic sustainability starts with each individual in an organization or community. It recognizes that change happens through us. Integrating systemic sustainability into the cultural fabric of an organization requires the development of practices at least four levels of intentional action.