The world of sustainability

What is Sustainability?

Sustainability is a term that takes on diverse meanings across literature, contexts, and time periods, making its precise definition an ongoing puzzle. The quest to encapsulate sustainability within a single, clear-cut description has proven to be a challenging endeavor due to its multifaceted nature and the influence of various factors that shape its interpretation. Moreover, the concept itself has evolved over time, further adding to the complexity. Experts in the field suggest that arriving at a universally agreed-upon, specific explanation of sustainability is a goal that might remain just out of reach.

The term “sustainability” originates from the Latin word “sustinere,” a term that embodies the ideas of maintaining, supporting, upholding, and enduring. Consequently, sustainability revolves around the notion of having the ability to persist and thrive over extended periods.

This concept has historical roots, initially being closely tied to environmental concerns. In earlier epochs, sustainability primarily centered around the environment, with communities expressing apprehensions about the long-term ability of their surroundings to provide for their needs. Our ancestors, as well as traditional societies and indigenous communities, recognized the significance of responsibly managing natural resources, placing limitations on their usage to ensure the well-being of both their societies and the environment that sustained them. [1]

In 1987, the United Nations Brundtland Commission released its report, “Our Common Future,” aiming to establish a connection between economic development and environmental stability. This pivotal moment also saw the Commission define sustainability as  “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.“ [2]

Definitions:

«The property of being environmentally sustainable; the degree to which a process or enterprise is able to be maintained or continued while avoiding the long-term depletion of natural resources.» [3]

«Sustainability can be defined as the capacity to maintain or improve the state and availability of desirable materials or conditions over the long term.» [4]

«Sustainability is the long-term viability of a community, set of social institutions, or societal practice.» [5]

«Sustainable development is the development that meets the needs of current generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs». [6]