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WHAT IS SUSTAINABILITY?

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Sustainability or sustainable development explained

The most common definition of sustainability or sustainable development was established by the Brundtland Commission in 1983. It defines sustainability as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

But what’s really happening, and why? This video offers a clear, more scientific explanation of sustainability.

How Are We Inhibiting Sustainability?

We all want economies to grow, companies to prosper and people to thrive. We all want to live in a world that allows these things to be a reality today and for generations to come. Yet we – people, businesses, industry, government – are all responsible in one form or another for our actions that threaten the values we cling to.

Sustainability is about living within the earth’s limits; respecting that there are limits to ecosystem resources and the earth’s ability to withstand human impacts. There are four root causes of unsustainability:

The extraction of large quantities of materials from the earth such as oil, natural gas and heavy metals that the planet can’t cope with. For example, climate change is largely the result of the impact of excessive burning of fossil fuels.

The creation of manmade substances that nature can’t break down such as plastic micro-beads that have invaded the oceans

The degradation of the Earth’s ability to keep us and our environment healthy caused by development that displaces helpful ecosystems. For example: draining wetlands that filter pollutants from water or clearing forests that clean air, faster than they can regenerate.

The unequal consumption of resources by different societies is leading to social inequity and creating barriers to meeting basic human needs worldwide.

The unequal consumption of resources by different societies is leading to social inequity and creating barriers to meeting basic human needs worldwide.

People – to ensure that all human beings can fulfil their potential in dignity and equality and in a healthy environment
Planet – to protect the planet through sustainable consumption and production, sustainably managing its natural resources and taking urgent action on climate change, so that it can support the needs of the present and future generations
Prosperity – to ensure that all human beings can enjoy prosperous and fulfilling lives and that economic, social and technological progress occurs in harmony with nature
Peace – to foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies which are free from fear and violence (There can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development)
Partnership – to mobilize the means required to implement this Agenda through the participation of all countries, all stakeholders and all people

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