What does sustainability really mean?

All of us have come across the word ‘sustainability’ so much so that most people assume the meaning of the word. But when it comes to applying the concept in our daily lives the word becomes vague and often interchangeable. 

The basic definition of the concept can mean satisfying the needs of the present generation without compromising the prospects of the future generations to meet their own needs. As simple as the definition may seem it is multifaceted and not only included environmental aspects but also economic and social elements as well. The concept itself embodies the culmination of various movements of social justice and conservationism but since this concept has been recently developed in the past century people often miss the real meaning.

The definition given by the Brundtland Commission report of 1983 for sustainability is by far the most well-known one. It was clear to the various countries across the globe that to achieve long-term prosperity sustainable economical and social development strategies need to be preferred over short term goals. The holistic concept of sustainability gives equal importance to economic, social and ecological dimensions to ensure lasting prosperity. 

  • Ecological sustainability considers the environmental resources of the earth and requires that equilibrium must be maintained so that natural resources are replenished at the same rate they are used. 
  • Social sustainability refers to the eradication of all forms of discrimination and ensuring that every human is given the basic human rights to ensure the overall health and well being of the social body. 
  • Economic sustainability refers to the well-balanced economy that enables people to secure sources of income and equitable access to other economic resources.

The concept of sustainability is diverse and unique and can entail many things but the essence is to conserve our planet’s natural resources, flora, fauna and humanity itself. Sustainability can be observed in the day to day activities of many individuals who display this unique concept through their choice. Sustainability is the need of the hour when the human race is standing over a precipice and the only thing stopping us from tipping over is a shared commitment towards achieving sustainability.

Source and References

  1. Horton, Jocelyn, Mad About ... Tropical Rainforests, Friends of the Earth (Jan, 2003) https://friendsoftheearth.uk/resource/factsheets/rainforest_mad_
  2. What is sustainability?, University of Alberta Office of Sustainability (June 27, 2013) https://www.mcgill.ca/sustainability/files/sustainability/what-is-sustainability.pdf
  3. What Does Sustainability Really Mean?, Lentien (Nov 6, 2015) https://lentein.com/what-does-sustainability-really-mean/

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