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Appropriate Technology

12.1.1 Define appropriate technology, sustainable development and triple bottom line sustainability.

Appropriate technology
Technology appropriate to the context in which it is applied. Appropriate technologies are low in capital cost, use local materials wherever possible, create jobs using local skills and labour, involve decentralized renewable energy sources, make technology understandable to the people who use it, are flexible, and are not detrimental to quality of life or the environment.
Sustainable development
Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Triple bottom line sustainability (TBL)
An expanded spectrum of values and criteria for measuring organizational success: economic, environmental and social.

12.1.2 List four characteristics of an appropriate technology.

Centralized (not decentralized) renewable energy
  • low capital cost
  • utilises local materials
  • create jobs with local skills and labour
  • involves decentralized renewable energy
  • technology is understandable for the people who use it
  • is flexible
  • maintains or improves quality of life
  • not harmful to the environment

12.1.3 Describe one example of an appropriate technology.

For example, solar cooking, hybrid vehicles, windup torches.
Solar Oven Hybrid Car Wind-up torch (flash light)

12.1.4 Identify the three key dimensions of triple bottom line sustainability.

Economic sustainability: growth, development, productivity, trickle-down. sustainability: ecosystem integrity, carrying capacity, biodiversity. Social sustainability: cultural identity, empowerment, accessibility, stability, equity.

TBL "focuses corporations not just on economic value they add, but also on the environmental and social value they add - and destroy" from unknown source.

The McDonalds food chain stance on TBL

12.1.5 Explain how global conferences (for example, Rio de Janeiro, Johannesburg) provide a platform for the development of global strategies for sustainable development.

  • Johannesburg 2002
  • Rio 1992
  • UN to help Governments rethink economic development
  • Find ways to stop the destruction of natural resources
  • Stop pollution of the planet

12.1.6 Explain the ongoing challenges facing the achievement of a consensus on a strategy for sustainable development.

  • Differing economic needs
  • Differing definitions of sustainability
  • Differing values about sustainability

12.1.7 Outline the Bellagio principles.

See “The Sustainability Report” of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD).
  • IISD. Follow link to PDF file.

Excerpted from IISD pdf file

These principles deal with four aspects of assessing progress toward sustainable development.

  • Principle 1 deals with the starting point of any assessment - establishing a vision of sustainable development and clear goals that provide a practical definition of that vision in terms that are meaningful for the decision-making unit in question.
  • Principles 2 through 5 deal with the content of any assessment and the need to merge a sense of the overall system with a practical focus on current priority issues.
  • Principles 6 through 8 deal with key issues of the process of assessment.
  • Principles 9 and 10 deal with the necessity for establishing a continuing capacity for assessment.

12.1.8 Explain how progress towards sustainable development might be assessed using the Bellagio principles.

In 1996 the International Institute for Sustainable Development developed general guidelines for the practical assessment of progress towards sustainable development—the Bellagio principles. These identify common patterns in sustainable development-related assessments.

12.1.9 Explain why sustainable development requires systems-level changes in industry and society.

PDF file from PriceWaterhouseCoupers(PWC) web page on The sustainability agenda from Industry perspectives. The case studies in the report illustrate the system level changes that need to be undertaken.

  • It ensures that at all stages of the product life is from sustainable sources.
  • It helps to promote the company as 'Green' retaining their client base and profits.
  • "The positive correlation between sustainability and financial performance will provide an enormous boost to the sustainable investment sector." from the PWC PDF file.
  • Ensures that the companies meet legislation on sustainability.
  • Assist consumers in lowering their carbon footprint.
  • Predict/Determine customer buying patterns in the future.
  • Reduce reliance on fossils fuels.
  • Invest in energy efficient vehicles and transportation systems.
  • Reduce landfills
  • Education programmes

12.1.10 Explain how sustainable development requires close cooperation between manufacturers and government.

  • Both parties will have different definitions for sustainable development
  • Governments have targets that need to be met
  • Must be communicated to industry
  • Meeting those targets will cost industry money especially if they are radical system changes.
  • Governments need to listen to industry

12.1.11 Explain how a close relationship between manufacturers and government can be difficult to achieve because the two parties may have very different perspectives on sustainability and time-scales.

  • Industry is more concerned with profits and would most likely continue using unsustainable practises until told to otherwise.
  • Governments what sustainable practises implemented for what ever reasons
  • Pressure on Governments to speed implementing sustainable practises
  • Industry will 'drag its heels' since system level changes can be expensive at the start.

12.1.12 Outline three reasons why it is difficult for governments to introduce legislation to cover all aspects of sustainability.

  • Too many aspects
  • Different parties involved
  • Economic reasons
  • Logistics


Bulleted list and italicised paragraphs are excerpted from Design Technology: guide. Cardiff Wales, UK: International Baccalaureate Organization, 2007.

Images are clickable links to its location.

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Page last modified on May 14, 2014, at 01:07 AM