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GLOSSARY

The THRIVE Framework Glossary explains all things THRIVE and sustainability. It’s written in simple English so that everyone can understand the technical terms used in the sustainability sphere.

An autotrophic organism is one that creates its own energy from inorganic compounds. Accordingly, they can either use photosynthesis or chemosynthesis to do this. An example of a photoautotroph is a tree. An example of a chemoautotroph is a volcano.

When abandoned and degraded agricultural lands are turned into forests.

The ‘Anthropocene’ is a proposed new geological epoch resulting from significant human-driven changes to the structure and functioning of the Earth’s ecosystem. The Anthropocene concept has been taken up by various disciplines (and the media) to denote the substantive influence humans have had on the present condition and future of the Earth.

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Store electrical energy generated by renewables for later use.

Biodiversity is the variability of life forms on Earth, described as genetic diversity, diversity of species and ecosystem diversity (Owen, 2005; Maclaurin & Sterelny, 2008).

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When humanity looks toward nature to emulate it, in order to solve problems that come from a lack of sustainability, they are involved in Biomimicry.

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Biomass Energy is extracted from organic plant and animal materials. These substances have the potential to produce heat and electricity.

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The biosphere is the part of the Earth that is able to sustain life.

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Biota is all the flora and fauna located in a particular region, whether on land or in the sea and air. This includes microorganisms.

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Blackwater is tainted wastewater that cannot be combined with greywater and must be extracted from a building using separate blackwater pipes.

Carbon capture and storage is a process that involves capturing the carbon upon emission, (such as greenhouse gases), from industry, and transporting it somewhere for storage, usually underground. It is sometimes also known as Carbon Sequestration.

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A carbon credit permits an organisation or a company to emit a certain amount of carbon or other greenhouse gas emissions. Companies can trade carbon credits if they don’t use the credit’s total allowance.

A carbon footprint is the generated amount of greenhouse gasses by a person or group.

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Being carbon negative means that a person, group, or entity emits less carbon and greenhouse gas than the amount absorbed or offset, which is good for the planet.

Becoming carbon-neutral means balancing the output of greenhouse gas emissions with what is able to absorb it, such as carbon sinks.

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The phrase ‘carbon positive’ is misleading. Additionally, it means that a person, group, or entity emits more carbon and greenhouse gas than the amount absorbed or offset, which is problematic.

By acquiring credits or utilising carbon trading platforms, carbon offsets lower carbon emissions.

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A form of a carbon price on greenhouse gas emissions, where certain sectors pay a fixed price to the government. Often the organisation passes this price or cost to the consumers.

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A carbon sink is a natural or man-made reservoir for C02. Examples of natural carbon sinks include soils, forests and oceans. Artificial carbon sinks can take the form of high-pressure storage of CO2, deep beneath the Earth’s crust (Alexandrov, 2008).

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Clean energy comes from energy that does not emit greenhouse gases when produced.

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Climate adaptation is the process of adjustment to actual or expected climate and its effects, in order to moderate harm or gain benefits. Human intervention often facilitates adjustment to the expected climate and its effects.

Climate change is a term that relates to the shifts that Earth is experiencing in weather, biodiversity and temperature. These shifts are long-term. There is a correlation between these temperature and weather shifts and the emission of greenhouse gases.

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Man-made interventions to reduce emissions or enhance the sinks of greenhouse gases.

What degree of risk mitigation can a socio-ecological system provide? Evidently, climate resilience investigates how effectively current systems can absorb shocks and continue to function under climate risk, as opposed to sustainability, which aims to increase the number of climate resilient systems.

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A closed loop is “an automatic control system in which an operation, process, or mechanism is regulated by feedback” (Boulding, 1966).

These are funds fed back into the community by Fairtrade Certified companies. This enables the people at the extracting end, such as the farmers and workers, to invest in projects that develop necessities in their community such as education, health, clean water, and housing.

A complex, wicked problem often refers to a social, cultural, political, or economic problem that is impossible to solve. This happens due to incomplete or contradictory information and knowledge, multiple actors, and the people involved. This includes a large economic or financial burden and the intersectionality of these problems with other problems and dimensions. Mammoth challenges ahead of us have deemed climate change as a ‘wicked problem’ (Breuer & Ludeke-Freund, 2017).

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Context-Based Metrics are about measuring the sustainability of a company based on the context in which they work. The more a company does to ensure its vital capital is sustainable compared to its impacts, the more sustainable they are. However, the ways in which an entity can ease its impacts depends on the context it works in (Haffar & Searcy 2018; UNEP 2015).

This is a business model that businesses use to self-regulate. It ensures a business is accountable to the relevant stakeholders, including members of the public. There are four avenues of CSR which include environmental impacts, ethical responsibility, philanthropic endeavours, and financial responsibilities.

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Decarbonisation involves action plans for altering CO2 emission rates within a geographical space.

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The practices or processes that refer to the conversion of forest lands for non-forest uses (often commercial purposes). Deforestation is a major contributing factor to the increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide.

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A planning strategy that is cooperative. It emphasises regenerative urban growth on a neighbourhood scale.

A system of ecologies. An ecosystem comprises all living organisms in a physical area interacting with each other and the non-living components (such as weather). 

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The term Electrochemical refers to a process using an electrical current through chemicals to generate energy. Electrochemical energy powers batteries.

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Are the Carbon Dioxide (CO₂) emissions used during construction? This includes transportation and production of materials and equipment to and from building sites. In essence, it is the entire carbon footprint of buildings and infrastructure prior to their becoming operational.

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The release of a substance or energy. The primary emissions discussed in sustainability are gases released into the atmosphere. Some of these emissions are greenhouse gases. The most commonly discussed emission is CO2 (Carbon Dioxide), which has significant long-term effects. Plant life is crucial for absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere.

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Energy footprints are a subset of environmental footprints that focused on energy consumption.

There are two boundaries: a social floor, (where too few resources are provided for an entity to survive) and an environmental ceiling. If we take more resources than we can replenish we steal from future generations (Schaltegger et al., 2012; UNEP 2017; Evans et al., 2017).

A corporate approach (known as ESG) includes an environmental cause, a social purpose, and a self-governing body in leadership that holds the corporation responsible.

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Fairtrade represents a global trading partnership. Actual Fairtrade certification ensures that the people involved in the production of a product benefit from safe working conditions. By incorporating ethics into the manufacturing process, we make the product support environmental protection, promote sustainable livelihoods for those involved, and utilise community development funds. Fairtrade ensures that the sourcing, extraction, manufacturing, and production of the resources used in creating the product all adhere to sustainable and ethical practices, thus prioritising the well-being of both people and the planet.

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Considering our planet is a closed system, there is a limited amount of matter it has to offer. Finite resources are non-renewable natural resources present on Earth (Rockstrom et al., 2009; Steffen et al. 2015; Raworth 2012).

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A generic term for organic materials in decayed plants and animals that undergo a process of heat and pressure in the Earth’s crust over hundreds of millions of years, resulting in the conversion to crude oil, natural gas, or heavy oils.

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Energy extracted from the Earth’s core is a renewable energy called Geothermal energy. 

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The process of governing people, places, or organisations.

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To maintain a healthy structure with minimal negative effects on the environment, builders construct green buildings based on ecological principles.

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The greenhouse effect is a term that describes how the natural gases in the Earth’s atmosphere allow infrared radiation to warm the Earth’s surface, preventing heat from escaping the Earth’s atmosphere. This is contributing to climate change.

Greenhouse gases are any gases that absorb infrared radiation in the atmosphere. They include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, chlorofluorocarbons, hydrochlorofluorocarbons, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulphur hexafluoride.

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The ongoing global average increase in temperature around the Earth’s surface.

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The WEF describes The Great Reset as “a commitment to jointly and urgently build the foundations of our economic and social system for a more fair, sustainable and resilient future” (2020). The Great Reset has been the subject of conspiracy theories. Additionally, creating a sustainable future with a resilient economy involves changing how we work as people, as places, and as businesses.

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Also known as ‘green sheen’. Greenwashing refers to false or misleading impressions given by a company with regard to their products or processes being environmentally sound or friendly.

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ICT is the devices and connections used to stay connected to others and retrieve information in a digital society. This includes phones, computers, smart devices, and internet connectivity.

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Describes the interconnected system of devices and the technology enabling communication among these devices, both with cloud services and amongst each other. This does not describe the devices themselves but refers to the way within which they interact. These “things” are embedded with sensors, software, and connectivity capabilities, allowing them to collect and exchange data with other devices and systems over the internet.

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Integral thinking extends beyond traditional linear problem-solving methods. It’s about combining multi-capital and reporting beyond the triple bottom line. This approach integrates multiple aspects, allowing organisations striving to “do good to do well”, to better understand the wide-ranging implications of their actions. Integral thinking acknowledges that tensions often need resolution and that a seemingly good idea might have unintended negative consequences. It offers an interconnected approach to measure the social, economic, and environmental impacts of any group, product, or service (Eccles et al. 2018; IIRC 2013; Elkington 1997).

Materiality means what’s significant and relevant. It is the principle that guides organisations in identifying and prioritising non-financial topics that are most relevant and impactful to their operations and stakeholders. Materiality plays a crucial role in sustainability reporting. Sustainability reporting is the disclosure of a much broader set of information than just financial statements (UNEP 2015; Eccles 2012; Lai et al. 2017). 

Multi-Capital is a way of viewing capital beyond the financial. Other kinds of capital can include, but are not limited to: natural, human, social and relationships (McElroy & Thomas 2015; Esbjorn-Hargens 2015).

In economics, the term “capital” frequently refers to equipment, resources, or machinery. “Human capital” is a term you may be familiar with. It’s a bit different to the typical use that may relate to money. The wealth of the globe is natural capital. Consider the land, air, water, and living creatures.

Natural resources are elements or substances that are found in nature and can be used for economic gain. Examples include minerals, forests, water, and fertile land. They may or may not be finite or limited.

Net-zero emissions are a result of a balance between emissions of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, and anthropogenic removals over a specified period. When involving multiple greenhouse gases, the quantification of net-zero emissions depends on the chosen climate metric used to compare the emissions of different gases. This includes global warming potential, the global temperature change potential as well as the chosen time horizon.

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The Net-zero water strategy involves a structure or community using only the water that naturally falls on the property.

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It is an organisation that is separate from any governing body. NGOs are often run by volunteers and charities.

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Ocean Governance involves making laws and policies to ensure the world’s oceans are adequately protected and kept sustainable. It is global and multi-institutional, including governments, public and private companies, along with NGOs and conservation societies.

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Going or living off the grid means that a person, group or entity has adopted a way of living and doing business where they are not connected to public utilities.

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The quantity of Carbon Dioxide (CO₂) emissions released during the operational or active phase of a building’s lifespan.

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A food item is considered organic if it does not use pesticides or fertilisers during its growth, and is not genetically modified.

The Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was adopted in December 2015, in Paris, France, at the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC. Furthermore, one of the goals of the Paris Agreement is ‘Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and limiting the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, understanding that this would effectively reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.

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The linear economy is all about taking, making and wasting, when it comes to products. People extract, farm, fish, and engage in various processes to obtain materials. Furthermore, consumers obtain access to produced or processed materials, and then the product is discarded (often ending up in a landfill at the end of its life). Undoubtedly, transitioning to a Regenerative Economy embraces the Closed Loop principle. Instead of following a linear “take, make, and waste” approach, a Regenerative Economy promotes the design of recyclable products. Conversely, this approach reduces the need for extensive resource extraction from the planet and also decreases greenhouse gas emissions associated with refining and smelting raw materials. See also Closed Loop (Geissdoerfer et al. 2017, Webster et al., 2015).

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Stormwater that is gathered and then saved for use later on is referred to as rainwater harvesting.

The practice of gathering and repurposing waste materials is called recycling.

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This is a form of energy that comes from a natural resource such as sun, wind, or water. These resources renew frequently and there is little danger of running out of them.

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Are incentives for the production and use of renewable energy. These are certificates that represent the generation of a certain amount of electricity from renewable energy sources.

Science-based targets are targets informed by the sciences, such as the IPCC “Paris Agreement”; an international treaty on climate change that is legally binding. 196 countries and territories agreed in 2015 to address the climate crisis through the implementation of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SBTi 2018).

Energy extracted from sunlight is called solar energy.

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Strong sustainability ensures that natural resources are understood as finite. In other words, resources can’t be exchanged for money (Upward & Jones 2016).

SDGs are a set of 17 global goals encapsulating 169 targets to create a sustainable future for every organism within the Earth’s biosphere. In 2015, all the United Nations Member States adopted these goals. It is also known as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

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The Systemic Holistic Model brings together the 12 foundational focus factors operating across the four quadrants. Using leading backcasting techniques, it develops the trajectory and guidance towards a more prosperous future for the benefit of all of humanity. 

Systems thinking is a way of looking at the bigger picture and seeing how the components that make it up contribute to a possible outcome (Elliot et al., 2011; Lang et al. 2012).

The THRIVE Platform is a unique, first-of-a-kind world-class online modelling platform aimed at informing and guiding humanity towards thrivability. It achieves this by providing context-based performance measures linked to strategy, e.g. business models as informed by the sciences. Using big data analytics and advanced machine learning techniques, it utilises sense-making algorithms to assess performance within norms, relative to thresholds and allocation of available resources.

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The THRIVE Project is a for-impact social enterprise whose mission is to ensure the long-term well-being and ‘thrivability’ of all humanity. Our vision is a world beyond sustainability, where all life forms live in harmony. Included are the THRIVE Platform, the 12 THRIVE Framework Foundational Focus Factors, and education through publications, blogs, and various kinds of videos. The project is run by volunteers from all around the world and involves partnerships with other sustainable entities.

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This is the ability of a human, group or entity to go beyond the boundaries of simply surviving and becoming prosperous, and thriving in a sustainable way.

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Values-based innovation takes into account the values we care about most. Some of these values include: human life, healthy societies and ecosystems, fair policies, equity, social justice, and other causes that engineer for a better world. It is these values that drive innovation and the design and development of solutions to many of our complex wicked problems. (Breuer et al. 2016, Lüdeke-Freund et al. 2016, Seiler et al. 2022)

Water scarcity happens when there is not enough water to supply the demand. There are multiple reasons for this. For instance, there may not be enough available fresh water, there may be a lack of infrastructure to provide fresh water, the water may be too expensive, or there may be more of a population than can be adequately supplied.

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This is when there is enough affordable water available in an area to meet and supply the demand.

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The World Economic Forum is the International Organisation for Public-Private Cooperation (WEF, n.d.) It is a global institution comprising both public and private enterprises across the globe.

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Author

  • Steven Hammon

    Storyteller & Scriptwriter, but that is such a small part of who I am as a whole. I have a bit of savant syndrome so I am brilliant at brainstorming and seeing patterns that others don't often see. I tend to know a lot about everything but often not enough to specialize. I can get extremely focused and carried away which can be annoying to some people sometimes so if I ever get a bit too enthusiastic, just say, "Hey Steve, settle down mate." And I'll seriously appreciate it. I love creative stuff. I'm currently looking into producing another feature film and also making computer games, doing pretty much everything by myself. So that sums me up pretty well. Cheers 😀