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Sustainability 2014, 6(3), 1594-1622; doi:10.3390/su6031594
Article

Linking Complexity and Sustainability Theories: Implications for Modeling Sustainability Transitions

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Received: 28 November 2013; in revised form: 5 March 2014 / Accepted: 6 March 2014 / Published: 24 March 2014
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Abstract: In this paper, we deploy a complexity theory as the foundation for integration of different theoretical approaches to sustainability and develop a rationale for a complexity-based framework for modeling transitions to sustainability. We propose a framework based on a comparison of complex systems’ properties that characterize the different theories that deal with transitions to sustainability. We argue that adopting a complexity theory based approach for modeling transitions requires going beyond deterministic frameworks; by adopting a probabilistic, integrative, inclusive and adaptive approach that can support transitions. We also illustrate how this complexity-based modeling framework can be implemented; i.e., how it can be used to select modeling techniques that address particular properties of complex systems that we need to understand in order to model transitions to sustainability. In doing so, we establish a complexity-based approach towards modeling sustainability transitions that caters for the broad range of complex systems’ properties that are required to model transitions to sustainability.
Keywords: complexity; sustainability; resilience; decoupling; socio-metabolism; behavioral change; transitions; self-organization; emergence; undecidability complexity; sustainability; resilience; decoupling; socio-metabolism; behavioral change; transitions; self-organization; emergence; undecidability
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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MDPI and ACS Style

Peter, C.; Swilling, M. Linking Complexity and Sustainability Theories: Implications for Modeling Sustainability Transitions. Sustainability 2014, 6, 1594-1622.

AMA Style

Peter C, Swilling M. Linking Complexity and Sustainability Theories: Implications for Modeling Sustainability Transitions. Sustainability. 2014; 6(3):1594-1622.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Peter, Camaren; Swilling, Mark. 2014. "Linking Complexity and Sustainability Theories: Implications for Modeling Sustainability Transitions." Sustainability 6, no. 3: 1594-1622.


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