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The Role of Sustainability in System Thinking

This assessment is designed to apply the knowledge and skills developed by the students in evaluating the role of systems thinking in global and local sustainability challenges. The topic for your paper is: 
'systems thinking is critical in developing solutions to sustainability challenges.' 

To what extent do you agree with this statement, and why? Draw on one of the following wicked problems to illustrate your answer:

• Achieving energy security in Australian manufacturing

• Australia's aging workforce How to write a Research Essay

1. Finding, reading and selecting your sources At a minimum, this essay will reference sources identified by the student, in addition to the subject readings (10-15 references in total). Your references should primarily include academic journals and books. The University library has developed a useful resource on how to evaluate your sources, and can be found in the subject LMS page. 

2. Writing the Introduction In the introduction you will need to do the following things:

• Present relevant background to the topic and its significance

• Introduce your 'wicked problem'

• Define terms or concepts when necessary

• Explain the aim/purpose of the essay

• Reveal your plan of organization for the essay 

3. Wdtlng the Body

• Build your essay around points you want to make (i.e., don't let your sources organize your paper)

• Integrate your sources into your discussion

• Be critical, and where relevant present two sides of an argument

• Give examples where relevant

• Summarize, analyse. explain, and evaluate published work rather than merely reporting it

• Make sure you have answered the topic question - to what extent  do you agree with the statement? 

4. Writing the Conclusion

• If the argument or point of your paper is complex, you may need to summarize the argument for your reader

• If prior to your conclusion you have not yet explained the significance of your findings or if you are proceeding inductively, use the end of your paper to add your points up, to explain their significance.

• Move from a detailed to a general level of consideration that returns the topic to the context provided by the introduction. 

5. Revising the Final Draft

• Check overall organization: logical flow of introduction, coherence and depth of discussion in body, effectiveness of conclusion.

• Paragraph level concerns: topic sentences, sequence of ideas within paragraphs, use of details to support generalizations, summary sentences where necessary, use of transitions within and between paragraphs.

• Sentence level concerns: sentence structure, word choices, punctuation, spelling. 

The Role of Sustainability in System Thinking

Sustainability is the ability of biological systems to endure and remain productive for a long period of time. The main principle in sustainability is maintaining development of a state by conquering economic, culture, politics and ecology challenges. The most wicked problem that has hindered developmental sustainability in Australia manufacturing industries is the struggle in achieving energy security. System thinking is a very good approach in addressing energy security in Australia because it gives problems a macroscopic view point to most complex problems. System thinking gives views of an interrelationship that exist in many constituents of a desired system as it deals with complex problems (Titus, 2014). The most important application of system thinking approach is system test. Purpose, function and element are the most valued sections of system test. System test illustrates the purpose of an adopted system thinking as it works on its elements to capture on interrelationship between those elements. System thinking contains processes, set of skills and technologies that are very essential in changing our primary mental models (Titus, 2014). Mental models entail application of generic, scientific, operational thinking and dynamic thinking in framing different issues of a system. It also involves application of empathic thinking in communication. Therefore, System thinking is a very crucial tool in Achieving energy security in Australia Manufacturing companies (Anoop and Anuj, 2016).

Availability of a sustainable energy is very important for economic and societal development of Australia. Energy system is made up of several systems that cater for their own functions in isolation unified in a goal to deliver energy products to final users. The energy system is endlessly evolving and very dynamic. Therefore, several subsystems should be structured to transform this industry to a more sustainable system. Energy security sustainability delineates resiliency for a period of time hence energy can survive shocks when they are strongly bonded to healthy social, economic and environment systems (Schaltegger et al, 2012).  Well sustained energy security highly contributes to economic growth of the country and healthy ecosystems. Principles of sustainable development have to be well adhered to in energy security sustainability.  In accordance with the view of World Council for Economic Development (WCED), sustainable energy system is considered as one that meets all the current energy needs without necessarily interfering with future generations’ ability to meet their own needs. Energy sustainability is therefore considered as the long-term success of universal companies (Athol and Neil, 2014).

Achieving Energy Security in Australian Manufacturing

Intelligent energy security stakeholders are aware that they are operating in rocky environment due to the impact of the internet which has made the world appear as one unit hence information flow as bush fire. They are also aware that most governments fail to provide the basic requirements such as security and stability to enable successful energy security to continue flourishing. Some companies are enemies of their own by creating negative competitions and focusing on the failures in energy production. To solve these challenges, energy stakeholders should implement the principles of sustainability into their daily energy production activities and decision making. Their main objective should be engaging in the right processes in securing energy production. Most of the leading companies are applying these principles by developing practical standards. The sustainability principles try to eliminate the negative impact that hinder the success of their operation as they maximize on the available opportunities (Bansal, Pratima, and Mark, 2014).

In most cases, energy sustainability focus on issues like corruption, the rule of law, climate change, supply chain practices, energy security policy and consumption. Corruption has led to the downfall of most leading Australian energy companies. The profits made are kept in the hands of few who do not consider return on investment. Eliminating corruption is the goal of most leading energy companies and it is achieved by self-discipline and greater focus to the success of the company. Secondly, climate is a major factor that affects the success of energy production. Most investors focus on the output of the energy companies as opposed to environmental degradation such as pollution caused by poisonous discharge into the environment. Dealing with climate change involves working towards zero toxic gas emission and discharge of waste into rivers. Thirdly, energy security policies will offer greater protection to Australian maritime exports when energy importing countries desire to establish if Australian supplies can be relied on.  Abiding by the rule of law is another key principle considered to have direct impact to the success of sustainability of energy production. In most countries, there are laid down structures that guide and protect the energy’s sector to avoid the conflict of interest that may arise (SD, 2014).

World Economic Forum (WEF) brought ideas from a team of experts drawn from different industrial fields. They came up with a white paper whose aim was to provide an understanding of energy production and business sustainability. It helped corporate companies and its stakeholders with a common aim of introducing sustainably practices and policies in to their businesses. In addition, the paper also acts as a resource to civil society groups, private companies and governments who wish to have a clear understanding on sustainability. In future the white paper will be expected to catalyze discussion on sustainability by providing tangible foundation to cooperate who wishes to enhance commitment on this idea. Sustainability of energy production employs three strategies which are conservation of the natural resources, preservation of the environment and majoring on growth, profit, promoting social equality, reasonable trade and employees’ welfare (Tueth, 2010).

Components of the Energy System and their Interactions

Energy sustainability focuses on preserving the environs and these brings forth several advantages. First, attract investors and energy security policy makers. Investors are attracted towards energy companies with good reputation and trusted stakeholders who can make good use of their financial support. In addition, young energetic generations looking for jobs do not want to associate themselves with companies that have been drawn into welfare scandals and environmental disasters. Most sustainable energy companies attract and retains energy security policy makers. Secondly, reduce cost and increase productivity. Despite negative claims that energy sustainability focuses on profit consumption, its development has proved to conserve resources which has reduce cost of production and increased production output. Furthermore, cost reduction by the use of natural energy sources like solar heat as opposed to electricity has long-term justified savings (Rashid et al,2013).

Thirdly, competitive advantage and better brand image help to advertise the energy companies. Companies that provide better services to its consumers are better placed in the energy supply. Most people are attracted towards better services and this provide an upper hand to those who major in customer’s satisfaction as opposed to making quick profits. In addition, companies that major on building brand image through advertisements and promotions are better placed than those that are conserved. Forth, enhance energy production capability to comply with set regulations. Energy companies that focus on environmental protection are more likely to succeed because they are integrated with the government regulations.  Fifth, making shareholders contented with the progress of the energy company. Sustainability can increase profit and lower cost of production. This can be done through self-sacrifice of every party towards meeting their set objectives. On the other hand, if the energy company makes a break through towards success, energy producers confidence and yield will pick up with reduction in production cost. The end results will be to make everyone happy and contented about the energy security. Sixth, waste reduction. This is a direct way to put in practice sustainability (Nichols, 2011). The use of renewable raw materials helps protect the natural environment by reducing the dumped waste. In addition, energy companies that produce waste that is able to decompose without creating harm to the inhabitants are considered to most sustainable. Seventh, accountable innovation is a major requirement. Making innovation top priority from the energy security stakeholders level is the key determiner to whether the company with retain its spirited global market or not. Technology keeps evolving and so as the customers get the information at the disposal on the internet about the environmental hazards that can cause health complications. Energy companies can take advantage by presenting eco-friendly products to their customers. Lastly, Operational efficiency must be under consideration. The objective of energy production achieving greater profitability growth and operational responsibility do not need to antagonize each other. Sustainability should be core within the general performance of a company practices. This will create shareholders value into the energy production and help reduce waste and major on cost savings (Geissdoerfer, 2018).

Challenges Facing Energy Stakeholders

Just like any other production sector, energy sustainability also faces challenges from different areas. First, climate change and public policy widely affects the economy, environment and community at large. Therefore, firms need to decarbonizes the economy and develop resilience towards climate impacts as well as environmental policies. Secondly, increased energy production risk and hazard pulls down sustainability success. Substantial moves are required to properly deal with challenges, including resources insecurity, waste management, climate change, diversity and corruption. As problems carry on then energy production risk standard channels tend to be highly affected: Strategic risk- Primarily, Modern societal challenges give more strategic risks for companies working on out dated models. Operational risk- In this more turbulent world, any failure in supply energy chain system produces unexplainable operational risks. Financial risk- failure of financial returns is a major issue here and it can be avoided by being confident in energy production planning. Compliance risk- Policies have to be implemented to deal with societal challenges and pressurize adherence to best practice standards. Reputational risks – Tactics of dealing with issues may build or deter a firm reputation. Malpractice can highly damage a company’s reputation. Thirdly, critical long-term thinking.  Human weakness is to always focus on short-term concerns as opposed to long-term. This characteristic makes people to have poor capability to deal with stuff that do not look urgent. Energy security stakeholders must focus to overcome this challenge by sacrificing the short term profits to save the long-term benefits (Chalmers, 2014).

Fourth, the new movement which consist of three components: The great imitation, the great migration and great convergence.  The Great Imitation is where companies imitate sustainable energy production without learning the processes laid down to guarantee success. The Great Migration involves the ever changing people, supply chains, jobs and labor. Energy companies are required to adapt and adjust to these changes. The Great Convergence requires all the entities involve in the realization of a sustainable energy system to be united by a common goal to overcome the global challenges. Fifth, transparency and building trust. Most companies when left to operate on secretes tend to omit some basic quality requirements. The government and some agencies are therefore tasked to put it mandatory for disclosure of energy production operations. These regulations are seen by most companies as a way to wash their weaknesses in public (Harvey and Fiona, 2011).  Sustainability requires taking the disclosure positively and considering it as a way to get opinions on the areas that need improvements.

Implementing Sustainability Principles in Energy Production

Sixth, fastest growing inequality in the energy companies has become hindrance to production growth. Most countries have been struggling with inequality from the ancient of Industrial revolution to current. The perception has brought with it public doubts against globalization.  On the contrary, globalization is best strategized to solve the inequality that has led to rebellion. Energy companies have the responsibility to partner with government agencies, non-governmental organizations, competitors and social enterprises to put an end to inequality (Hoessle, 2013).

Seventh, patriarchal philosophy is where energy producers do what management orders. The employees are therefore forced to abandon their personality and pretend to create a sense of security in the company. Employees need to be given the opportunity to freely express their potential to help undermine the pretense created in the energy companies. Next, sustainability institutionalization failure. Most companies ignore to effectively include sustainability-based thoughts on their daily culture, policies and processes because they fail to agree with some of the sustainability values. In order to succeed, companies need to incorporate sustainability with their structures and systems (Geoffrey, 2017). 

 Lastly, lack of enough information is also a big challenge to the business. Most companies fail to communicate efficiently to their employees about their strategies towards sustainability. Most training conducted is substandard considering the company’s sustainability goals. Human behaviors, approach and social values towards the environment are enhanced through communication which enables them to build their reality on experience and perception (SD, 2018).

In conclusion, system thinking is an important tool to address sustainability challenges. Energy sustainability in the Australia manufacturing companies is a crucial topic to decision makers of the companies. At system levels of sustainability, system thinking helps in understanding factors relationships in energy production and behavior of a system. Energy sustainability aims at company's long-term success goal by focusing on eliminating corruption, abiding by the rule of law, implementing good energy security policies, enhancing customer’s satisfaction and eliminating environmental pollution.


Anoop, P. and Anuj, K. (2016) System Thinking Approach to Deal with Sustainability Challenges. Available at:  [Accessed 28 Aug. 2005].

Athol, Y. and Neil, J. (2014) Energy Security for Australia: Crafting a comprehensive energy security policy. Available at: [Accessed 28

Aug. 2005].

 Bansal, Pratima, and Mark R., (2014). "Business sustainability: It is about time," Journal of Strategic Organization ,12(1), pp. 70-78

Chalmers (2014). Limitations of Sustainability. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Aug. 2018].

 Geissdoerfer, M., Morioka, S., de Carvalho, M., Evans, S., (2018). "Business models and supply chains for the circular economy". Journal of Cleaner Production. 190: pp. 712–721. 

 Geoffrey, J., (2017). Profits and Sustainability. A History of Green Entrepreneurship. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-019-870697-7.

Harvey and Fiona (July 7, 2011). "Europe 'falling behind' in green investment race".  Journal of The Guardian.  vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 34-36.

Hoessle, U., (2013). Ten Steps Toward a Sustainable Business. [online] Available at:  [Accessed 21 Aug. 2018]

Michael, H. (2018) Why It Pays for Business to Boost Sustainability. [online] World Economic. Available at:  [Accessed 21 Aug. 2018]

 Nichols, W., (2011) "UK green economy grew £5.4bn in 2011". The Guardian.

Rashid, A., Farazee M., Krajnik, P.,Nicolescu and Cornel M., (2013). "Resource Conservative Manufacturing: an essential change in business and technology paradigm for sustainable manufacturing". Journal of Cleaner Production. 57 (6), pp. 166–177

Schaltegger, S., Lüdeke-Freund, F. and Hansen, E. (2012). Business cases for sustainability: The role of business model innovation for corporate sustainability, International Journal of Sustainable Development, Vol.6, No. 2, pp.95-119

 Schaltegger, S.; Windolph, Harms, D. and Hörisch, J. (2014): Corporate Sustainability in International Comparison: State of Practice, Opportunities and Challenges. Cham: Springer International Publishing

SD, (2014).  Applying Systems Thinking to Analyze Wind Energy Sustainability. [online] Available at: https:// [Accessed 28 Aug. 2018]

SD, (2018).Sustainability Degrees. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Aug. 2018].

Titus, K.  (2014), ‘System Thinking-System Dynamics for Sustainable Energy Planning in the Developing Economy’, Journal of Advancement in Engineering and Technology, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 4-6.

Tueth. M., (2010). Fundamentals of Sustainable Business|A Guide to the Next 100 years. Hackensack: World Scientific Publishing Co.

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