Beyond Neutral

Greenhouse Solutions


Sustainability

The term ‘Sustainability’ is commonly used but often is not fully understood. 

Sustainability is a concept that is often used interchangeably with sustainable development of which the most quoted definition is taken from the Bruntland Report (1987):

‘Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’

The putting forward of this definition by the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development has created debate with more definitions being put forward reflecting different interpretations.  In reality, the Bruntland definition was left general and the report acknowledges that interpretations would vary. The purpose of the definition was to provide an agreement on the basic concept and a broad strategic framework for achieving sustainability.  Recent research suggests that a meaningful global definition may not be possible or even practical when dealing with the complexities of ecological regimes and society.

Sustainability integrates environmental, social and economic aspects in order to achieve the above definition.  Consequently, questions are raised as to how society will know if sustainability has been reached or how long will it take.  Within sustainability, there are unknowns and these two common questions fit into this category. 

Recent thought has transgressed from sustainability as an ultimate goal to one of being progress oriented.  Development is a progressive transformation that requires continuous adaptations and therefore it should be expected that sustainability would require continuous monitoring and adjustments to changing conditions. 

Each generation will be able to assess the success of the previous generation through the ability they have to meet their own needs. 

What is known is that current market and social values are unsustainable with resources not being replenished at the same rate as they are consumed.