What is Sustainability?

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The UN has defined sustainable development as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

The term sustainability refers to the long-term viability of human society with respect to its natural environment. It also includes economic growth and social equity within this context. In other words, it means developing ways to live sustainably while maintaining our quality of life over time.

KEY Takeaways

  • Sustainable development is about meeting the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of the future to meet their own needs.
  • Sustainable development is a way of thinking about how to improve the lives of people and protect the environment.
  • People, Planet & Prosperity are the three pillars of sustainable development.

Sustainable development can be achieved through three main approaches: conservation, adaptation or mitigation. Conservation involves reducing consumption and waste; adapting to changes in climate and land use; and mitigating negative environmental impacts such as pollution.

What sustainable development is and isn't.

It's not just about recycling! Sustainable development requires a holistic approach to managing resources so they are available for current and future generations. This includes protecting biodiversity, conserving water, air and soil, ensuring clean energy supplies, and creating healthy communities.

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The three pillars of sustainable development.

There are three key elements to achieving sustainable development: people, planet and prosperity. People need access to safe drinking water, nutritious food, affordable housing, education, health care and employment opportunities. The planet must have enough renewable resources like freshwater, fertile soils, clean air and forests to support all living things on Earth. And we should strive to create an economy where everyone benefits from economic growth.


In summary, there are many different definitions of what sustainable development actually entails. However, most agree that it involves meeting the basic needs of today by preserving the capacity of tomorrow. We cannot do this alone though - we each play a role in making sure that the next generation will inherit a better world than the one we inherited.

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