How to Define Sustainable Development

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If you are looking for a sustainable living definition, you should know that a simple definition does not suffice. This is a complex concept, and it should be approached not in terms of present situations, but in terms of how it can affect our development as a species. There are many ways to define sustainable development, but the simplest way to describe it is to say that it is a type of human development where the gathering of resources for human needs is done without disturbing the environment and its natural systems. That way, the human needs can be satisfied for future generations as well, and not just for the present. Basically, we are just learning to work together with nature, to take while giving back and having a wider perspective on things, and on the effects of our activities.

The first use of the term “sustainable development” was done by the Brundtland Commission in 1987, formally known as the World Commission on Environment and Development, and its goal is to unite as many countries as possible and make them adhere to safer practices all over. Another way to give a sustainable development definition is to refer to its concern for both humanity’s social challenges and the carrying capacity of natural systems. In the 1970s, people talking about sustainability were referring to an economy that is in good balance with ecological support systems.

In the past, a way to define sustainable development in a comprehensive way was to split it into three parts: economic sustainability, sociopolitical sustainability and environmental sustainability; but recent developments have led to the belief that a more complex approach is necessary, and that sustainable development should be regarded as the sum of four parts: economic, political, ecologic and cultural sustainability. Furthermore, in their 1987 definition, the Brundtland Commission introduced two key concepts as well:

  1. The concept of needs, meaning humanity’s needs and especially those of the poor, who should have priority;
  2. The concept of limitations which is to be imposed by states in regards to technology and social organization so that the environment can meet both present and future needs.

Based on the sustainable living definition and related concepts, a lot of progress has been made in the past decades and more standards for sustainability and certification have been established, especially in the food industry. The goal is to be able to produce food for an ever-growing population without entirely depleting the planet’s resources and leaving room for regrowth. Indeed the main focus of sustainability were the economy, the environment and society, but indigenous people and their representatives have drawn attention to the fact that culture is an important factor as well, because it is related to our diversity, motivating that it is just as important as biodiversity.

Thus, sustainable development doesn’t have to refer simply to economic growth and better living conditions in a protected environment, but in a more developed existence which is emotionally, intellectually, morally and spiritually satisfactory.

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