Raising Utility and Lowering Risk through Adaptive Sustainability: Society and Wealth Inequity in Western Australia

  •  Mark Andrich    
  •  Jorg Imberger    
  •  E. Oxburgh    


The Index of Sustainable Functionality makes it possible to analyse the sustainability of multiple systems within a domain from various perspectives. To illustrate how changes to wealth distribution since 1980 can impact sustainability of the economy, environment and society, the resource rich state of Western Australia’s sustainable functionality was calculated from different wealth level perspectives. How wealth inequity may affect the stability of major systems including the social, terrestrial, water and mineral industry are discussed as are reasons behind changes in wealth and income distribution over the past 30 years. The ISF results show that from the perspective of society’s richest 20%, poorest 20% and average wealth levels; and from the perspective of the environment, system decline can occur even when the economy reaches full functionality. Suggestions to improve functionality and long-term stability are made, with the major suggestion the introduction of a fund modelled on Norway’s sovereign wealth fund.

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