The basic architecture of GSSD is applicable to a wide range of issues and problems characterized by uncertainty, complexity, and contextual diversity. The current operational system is an application of the generic GSSD architecture to the domain of “sustainable development.” This application is undertaken by specifying a set of interconnected, multi-dimensional relationships among actors, levels, and units.

These relationships are defined in terms of: (a) activities at different levels and units; (b) problems generated by human impacts on social and natural systems; coupled with knowledge about (c) technical solutions as well as (d) economic and regulatory strategies; and (e) international coordination and responses.

The GSSD knowledge base is organized around 14 core concepts or Domains. Each concept is further differentiated in terms of content-specificity and embedded in an integrated knowledge structure.

  1. Specific Activities & Conditions - for each issue area or domain of human behavior;
  2. Sustainability Problems - different issue areas of activities;
  3. Technical & Scientific Solutions - for each domain;
  4. Social, Regulatory & Political Solutions - for each domain;
  5. Coordinated International Actions – incorporating all domains and dimensions.

Coordinated International Actions, the fifth ring is at a relatively high level of aggregation, and further differentiation is currently being undertaken. Nonetheless, it does provide a view of the entire range of known forms of international collaboration directly relevant to sustainability.