Communities in Australia's Murray‐Darling Basin face the challenge of trying to achieve social, economic, and environmental sustainability; but experience entrenched conflict about the best way to achieve a sustainable future, especially for small rural communities. Integral ecology is a philosophical concept that seeks to address community, economic, social, and environmental sustainability simultaneously. Its inclusive processes are designed to reduce stakeholder conflict. However, to date the application of the integral ecology concept has been largely qualitative in nature. This study developed a quantitative integral ecology framework, and applied this framework to a case study of the Riverina, in the Murray‐Darling Basin. Seventy‐seven community‐focused initiatives were assessed, ranked, and quantified. The majority of the community‐focused ranked initiatives did not exhibit all aspects of integral ecology. Initiatives typically prioritized either (1) economic and community development or (2) environmental health; rarely both together. The integral ecology framework developed here enables recommendations on future community initiatives and may provide a pathway for community leaders and other policy‐makers to more readily apply integral ecology objectives. Further research refining the framework's operationalization, application and implementation to a wider‐scale may enhance communities' capacity to develop and grow sustainably.
Earth's Future – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
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