Sustainability has often been defined as how biological systems endure and remain diverse and productive. But, the 21st-century definition of sustainability goes far beyond these narrow parameters. Today, it refers to the need to develop the sustainable models necessary for both the human race and planet Earth to survive.
Sustainability is a balancing act. The United Nation’s 1987 Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development: Our Common Future noted that sustainable development meets the needs of the present without compromising the well-being of future generations.
The concept continues to expand in scope. In 2000, the Earth Charter broadened the definition of sustainability to include the idea of a global society “founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace.”
To achieve these lofty goals, humans will have to re-examine their policies on:
- Environmental protection.
- Social responsibility.
- Economic practice.
Old models of consumption and industrialization will not support the world’s growing population. If humans wish to have the water, materials and natural resources needed to thrive, a new approach to living is called for.
Table of Contents
A Need for Conservation and Energy
It’s no secret that economic growth and energy have come at the cost of environmental degradation. In answer to this challenge, sustainability experts are looking at ways in which we can slow or prevent pollution, conserve natural resources and protect remaining environments.
Learn more about the energy debate, including:
- Definitions of conservation.
- Energy’s role in human lives, business and the planet.
- The impact of conservation on energy (and vice versa).
Developing a Sustainable Society
A sustainable society is founded on equal access to health care, nutrition, clean water, shelter, education, energy, economic opportunities and employment. In this ideal society, humans live in harmony with their natural environment, conserving resources not only for their own generation, but also for their children’s children. Each citizen enjoys a high quality of life and there is social justice for all.
Is such a vision possible? Have a look at:
- The Sustainable Society Index (SSI).
- Visions of a 21st-century sustainable society.
- Practical steps toward a sustainable society.
Supporting Sustainable Business
Businesses are facing a new paradigm. They’re being asked to create long-term practices that do more to respect the environment, the well-being of employees and the prospects of future generations. Meanwhile, these same businesses are also expected to improve profitability, fund innovation and increase market share for current stakeholders.
Dive into ideas surrounding these challenges, including:
- Definitions of corporate sustainability.
- Potential benefits to the environment and society.
- Examples of sustainable businesses and their practices.
Advances in Sustainable Technology and Development
Amid all the gloom surrounding the future, the promise of science shines brightly. Optimists hope that new technologies and urban infrastructures, built with environmentally sound practices, can support a sustainable, healthy and happy population.
Get a short and sweet overview of:
- Next-generation infrastructures and sustainable cities.
- New advances in sustainable technologies.
- Potential challenges.
Investigating Climate Change
Any way you look at it, climate change is a major issue in the field of sustainability. Debates on its impact continue to dictate government policies, corporate decisions and individual actions.
Discover the issues involved in:
- The concept of climate change.
- Climate change research.
- Arguments from skeptics.
- Mitigating global warming.