Sustainable development is a very complicated concept. In essence, sustainable development concerns the issue of how our society should look in the future and how things stand in our society at present. By comparing the two (how things stand and where we want to go) we can get an idea of what we need to do to achieve that ideal. The PPP scan enables us to examine whether certain projects, programmes, initiatives, and investments contribute to making society more sustainable.
In order to operationalize the concept of sustainable development, Telos uses the so-called three capitals approach. In this approach, three capitals are distinguished: the ecological capital (planet), the socio-cultural capital (people) and the economic capital (profit). Sustainable development means that we strive for the growth of each of the capitals but that in principle the growth of one of the capitals must not be at the cost of the growth of one of the others. To take an example: economic growth (profit) which occurs at the cost of environment (planet) we do not call sustainable. In addition, the development which takes place here must not lead to a reduction in the development opportunities of people elsewhere in the world. In colloquial terms: our growth mustn’t bother the neighbours. Finally, our development must also not be at the cost of the development opportunities of future generations. In other words: our children and grandchildren must have the same development opportunities as we do.
Since the 3 capitals themselves are still highly abstract and complicated concepts, we have broken down each of the capitals into a number of important elements. We call these important elements ‘stocks’. Each capital thus consists of six or seven stocks. Long-term goals are then formulated for each stock. Added together, all these goals provide a picture of what a sustainable society at regional level might look like.