Modelling sustainability performance to achieve absolute reductions in socio-ecological systems

Breno Nunes*, Roberto C. Alamino, Duncan Shaw, David Bennett

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As the world’s natural resources dwindle and critical levels of environmental pollution are approached, sustainability becomes a key issue for governments, organisations and individuals. With the consequences of such an issue in mind, this paper introduces a unifying approach to measure the sustainability performance of socio-economic systems based on the interplay between two key variables: essentiality of consumption and environmental impact. This measure attributes to every system a ‘fitness’ value i.e. a quantity that reflects its ability to remain resilient/healthy by avoiding ecological, social and economic collapse as it consumes the available resources. This new measure is tested on a system where there is a limited supply of resources and four basic consumption types. The analysis has theoretical implications as well as practical importance as it can help countries, organisations or even individuals, in finding better ways to measure sustainability performance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-44
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Early online date20 Aug 2015
Publication statusPublished - 20 Sept 2016

Bibliographical note

© 2015, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International


  • sustainability management
  • sustainability performance
  • modelling
  • systems dynamics
  • absolute reductions


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