The sustainability concept in its current form suffers from reductionism. The common interpretation of “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” fails to explicitly recognize their interdependence with needs of current and future non-human generations. Here we argue that the focus of sustainability on human well-being – a purely utilitarian view of nature as a resource for humanity – limits its conceptual and analytical power, as well as real-world sustainability transformation efforts. We propose a broadened concept of ‘multispecies sustainability’ by acknowledging interdependent needs of multiple species’ current and future generations. We develop the concept in three steps: 1) discussing normative aspects, fundamental principles underlying the concept, and potential visual models, 2) showcasing radically diverging futures emerging from a scenario thought experiment based on the axes sustainable-unsustainable and multispecies-anthropocentric, and 3) exploring how multispecies sustainability can be applied to research and policy-making through two case studies (a multispecies stakeholder framework and the Healthy Urban Microbiome Initiative).
- earth systems
- politics and governance
- system control and optimization