Sustainable Socio-Ecological Communities


Socio-ecological communities are our lens and frame for action. This focus recognizes the interconnectedness of all things and our fundamental dependence on earth's life support systems, as well as the complexity of these systems, which makes understanding an important part of doing and having an impact. It also bridges the nature-culture divide. Our approach is therefore holistic, considering and addressing many root causes and relevant factors interacting in systems to create desirable outcomes, recognizing and working with complexity,  and planning projects to work together and support each other.


PORET’s ultimate goal is to create sustainable socio-ecological communities


Sustainable socio-ecological communities operate within the limits of our finite earth, defined by the laws of ecological sustainability and the 9 planetary boundaries. These communities also physically sustain healthy living beings, including humans. These requirements constitute the biophysical sustainability criteria, a firm boundary that must be passed in order for a community to be considered sustainable. 

There is also an immaterial element to sustainability, or social sustainability. Social sustainability is important as there are social aspects to quality of life, but also because social conditions can support or hinder biophysical sustainability. In pursuing social sustainability, we will aim for the cultivation of qualities all people would reasonably agree a good society should have.  These include equity or social justice, solidarity, and participation. Since these conditions are hard to quantify, the social sustainability boundary is less absolute than the biophysical boundary. 

Although sustainability is a state with lower bounds defined by the above biophysical and social criteria, these criteria may be met in a multitude of ways, and there are no upper bounds, meaning continuous improvement is encouraged.  Sustainability is therefore also about resilience, staying above these boundaries in the face of change. It is also important to note that the sustainable socio-ecological communities we aim to co-create in Chimanimani District don’t exist in isolation; none can truly be sustainable if it creates or requires unsustainabilities elsewhere.