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Sustainability in its shortest definition is the capacity to endure. To endure one does not only need material goods, but also a mental and spiritual resilience and set of skills on how to cope. When the quality and quantity of our material goods and biophysical environment starts to change, when our fellow South Africans are sick and dying prematurely and when our economy does not deliver the needed health and wealth to all of us, our hope for a better future is severely tested. It is the integrity of our hope that could and should be playing a fundamental role in a possible transition towards sustainability.
In this talk ladies and gentleman, the question of South Africa’s sustainability is under scrutiny. I will first show you that from an ecological, from a human well-being, and even from an economic perspective there are several warning lights on the biophysical and material sustainability of this country. I will also show the remarkable optimism we have as South Africans and highlight the importance of hope. Third, and finally I will argue that we as humans have an ethical responsibility in the individual and collective choices we make. It is our attitudes and behaviours that sustain or destroy.