What is Sustainability?

Sustainability is a broad concept that generally refers to the ability to continue an action or behavior indefinitely. Essentially, for an activity to be considered as sustainable, it should be able to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generation their own needs. Sustainability hinges on the interconnection of various disciplines such as politics, social sciences, and economics. It is about equity, or a state where people can access resources within and across generations.

Sustainability takes into account economic growth and development. It acknowledges the fact that in order to survive and sustain the modern way of lie, humans need to take resources from the environment. Environmental sustainability, a related concept, is the process of ensuring the continuity and diversity of natural systems, such that they are able to produce the necessary requirements in order for the ecology to remain in balance.

The Three Pillars of Sustainability

In 2005, the World Summit identified the three pillars of sustainability: economic development, social development, and environmental protection. These are three core areas that are necessary for sustainable development. A healthy balance between these three areas will allow society to satisfy its survival and growth needs without exceeding the capacity of the various ecosystems to regenerate or diminishing biological diversity. A non-sustainable practice, correspondingly, is one that uses and destroys natural resources faster than they can be regenerated and replenished.

The successful integration of these three core areas into programs, policies, and projects is necessary in order to achieve the goals of sustainability. Some of the goals of sustainability include poverty alleviation and ending world hunger, improving education and healthcare programs, sustainable economic growths that creates jobs and supports a stronger economy, and environmental health.

There are many ways to ensure that the three pillars are properly integrated. Proper planning and preparation is definitely essential before any kind of economic development project is implemented. Community values should be accounted for before policies are made. Work practices in the different industries need to be reexamined and redesigned so that a healthy balance between the three pillars can be maintained easily.

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