From Open Sustainability
Sustainability and Sustainable Development
Sustainable Development or simply Sustainability is about balancing economic growth and social needs with the natural environment. In order to be sustainable, this should also be achieved in a fashion so that growth in the present does not adversely sacrifice future opportunities.
Sustainability Defined- the Brundtland Report
The first major articulation of sustainability as an environmental, social, and economic concept came in 1987 with the UN Brundtland report, which defined sustainability as meeting the needs of current generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Implicit in this definition is a recognition that sustainability is a complex challenge. It is not just about achieving clean water, reducing poverty and illiteracy, or ending inequality: sustainability as a term encompasses the intersection and interrelations between our environmental, social and economic well-being as a planet. Sustainable Development refers to any actions taken to help us reach this state of sustainability.To paraphrase the World Conservation Union, sustainable development is essentially about:
-Balancing economic growth and social needs with the natural environment.
-Ensuring that growth in the present does not adversely sacrifice future opportunities
-Applying this approach successfully within a local area and at a global level.
Below is a list of all the challenges the U.N. deems to be a part of our complex sustainability challenge:
The Sustainability Principles
Many attempts have been made since 1987 to further define sustainability, adding more depth and rigor to the U.N.'s 1987 Brundtland Definition. One such attempt was spearheaded in Sweden by an organization called The Natural Step in order to determine the minimum conditions necessary for the system of human life on earth to operate sustainably. These conditions were developed collaboratively over the past 20 years through peer-reviewed science, and offer a more specific articulation of how to operate sustainably within the earth's limits. These system conditions are the scientifically agreed upon minimum conditions for sustainable life on Earth. They can also be restated as sustainability principles that every organization must adopt in order to move towards sustainability.
The Triple Bottom Line (People, Planet, Profit)
The Triple Bottom Line offers a powerful framework to help businesses understand what sustainability means for them. Stated simply, the triple bottom line requires a business to expand its understanding of the bottom line to encompass not only profit, but also environmental and social well-being. It is only through considering people, planet, and profit with equal weight that a business can operate sustainably in the long term.
The three pillars of sustainability, Environmental, Social and Economic and their interactions are captured in the figure above.
Sustainability is measured at a local, regional and a global level. Therefore, changes to one area can impact another. Sustainable Development is now a very popular topic, with the majority of the focus around climate change due to anthropogenic GHG emissions. In response to this popularity, large organisations such as governments and corporations aim to be "sustainable."
- ↑ Our Common Future (1987), Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-282080-X
- ↑ [The Natural Step (website) http://www.naturalstep.org/the-system-conditions]