Sustainability issues

What is 'sustainability'?

Sustainability – the property of being sustainable, the condition where human activity may be continued indefinitely without damaging the environment and where the needs of all peoples are met equally.

It is often said that sustainability means different things to different people or that sustainability is difficult to define. The many different definitions to be found would seem to bear this out. From the perspective of a finite world with finite resources and on which we are totally reliant to provide our life support, clearly human activity has to be conducted within limits imposed by the capacity of the planet to provide the requirements for and absorb the effects of that activity.

Underpinning any form of human development, however, is the sustainability of the environment - the planet's ecosystems, biodiversity, and its capacity to support life. Destruction of rainforests, over-fishing, over-population, species extinction, pollution, the huge gulf between rich and poor nations and global warming are but a few of the issues severely damaging our environment and our prospects for long-term survival.

This is not to suggest the environment is the only issue which needs to be addressed but that it is fundamental to every other issue concerned with sustainable development.