Levien van Zon The stories we tell ourselves and each other about sustainability are usually oversimplified. Most tend to revolve around either technical solutions, or around a kind of modern romanticism. The Substance of Sustainability is a personal research project that looks at what would be needed for human societies to be truly sustainable. What can we learn from complex natural systems in this regard? And which alternative stories can we tell about sustainability, that may actually help rather than hinder us?

This project started out in 2014, and it initially focused on greenhouse gas emissions, environmental footprints and energy systems. Over time, the focus shifted more toward agriculture, system health, general problems with the metabolism of societies and the role of stories in how we understand and shape the world around us. A new series of articles on these subjects will be published in 2024.

Levien van Zon was trained a Theoretical Biologist and Environmental Scientist, with an active interest in complex systems. He lives and works in Amsterdam and has spent the past decade thinking, talking and reading a lot about sustainability.

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Photo credit: Io Cooman (2023)