This post is part one of a four-part series on the ins and outs of what sustainability is all about.
or sustainable living, refers to a lifestyle that attempts to minimise
the impacts of an individual on the Earth’s natural resources. The most
widely quoted definition of sustainability, forming part of the concept
of sustainable development, is that of the Brundtland Commission (1987) –
“sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the
present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet
their own needs”. This definition has often been criticised as vague. In
1996 Herman E. Daly (author of Beyond Growth: The Economics of
Sustainable Development) helpfully defined ‘sustainable development’
more simply as “development without growth beyond environmental limits”.
is based on two key concepts; inter-generational equity and
intra-generational equity. The former, inter-generational equity, is the
idea that future generations should have access to the same or greater
resources as the current generation. The latter, intra-generational
equity, supports the equal division of resources between members of the
It is widely recognised that sustainability
requires a balance of ‘three pillars’ representing environmental, social
and economic demands. These pillars have served as the basis for many
sustainability standards and certification systems.
By Katherine Dalton, Action 21 Volunteer