What’s sustainable development ?


Sustainability is not only about natural resources, social and economic systems. It is also about our household and business practices and our personal, organizational and institutional commitments to make a world a better place and about ensuring that what we do as individuals, communes, nations and the global community is able to be continued – borne, supported and upheld – over time. This has led to the concept of “sustainable development” – a new model for human development “that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. [World Commission on Environment and Development]”

The conclusion of the World Commission on Environment and Development was that we need a new approach to development. The World Commission called this ‘sustainable development’.

The message of sustainable development can be summarised in three themes:

  • Everything is connected to everything else
  • Human quality of life is just as important as economic development
  • There can be no long-term economic development without attention to human development and the quality of the environment

It is important to remember that these ideas about sustainable development are not ‘new’. These ideas are central to the wisdom and values that inform ways of living sustainably that have characterised indigenous and farming peoples in many parts of the world for thousands of years. They are also found in the programmes and campaigns for appropriate and sustainable development of ecology movements around the world, and especially in the women’s ecology movement in the South.

Given that these ideas are not ‘new’ and are already being practiced in many parts of the world, it is possible to change the direction of the descending spiral of unsustainable development into an ascending spiral of sustainability.

Source: United Nations Environment Programme.

More information will be provided in the following sub-topics:

  • What’s the relationship between sustainability and sustainable development ?
  • How the concept of the sustainable development emerged and evolved
  • Global initiatives and institutions for sustainability and sustainable development
  • Sustainable cities
  • Sustainable agriculture