Mapping Sustainability

The Mapping Challenge 

Despite advances in information and communication technologies, major political, strategic, economic, and institutional barriers continue to impede the use of knowledge for decision-making. While there is a large volume of sustainability-related knowledge, data, information, published materials, raw observations and so on, there is no intellectual coherence and no internally consistent logic to help make ‘best use’ of existing materials. 

The challenge is to provide some order in the extensive and growing body of knowledge. These challenges are compounded in situations where there are often serious uncertainties in theory and in practice, coupled with powerful contentions in policy and strategy.

“Mapping” is the process of providing this order. According to Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary to “map” is “to represent…to delineate” or “to assign to every element of a …set an element of the same or another set’’; and “to be located near the corresponding structural [element].” In those terms, Mapping Sustainability presents a way of representing knowledge content in the domain of “sustainable development,” with the full expectation that such knowledge changes over time, and that its representations must also change over time.