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Sustainable development is an
organizing principleAn organizing principle is a core assumption from which everything else by proximity can derive a classification or a value. It is like a central reference point that allows all other objects to be located, often used in a conceptual framework A con ...
for meeting
human developmentHuman development may refer to: * Development of the human body * Developmental psychology * Human development (economics) * Human Development Index, an index used to rank countries by level of human development * Human evolution, the prehistoric p ...
goals while also sustaining the ability of natural systems to provide the
natural resource Natural resources are resource Resource refers to all the materials available in our environment which help us to satisfy our needs and wants. Resources can broadly be classified upon their availability — they are classified into renewabl ...
s and
ecosystem services Ecosystem services are the many and varied benefits to humans provided by the natural environment and from healthy . Such ecosystems include, for example, s, s, s and s. These ecosystems, functioning in healthy relationship, offer such things ...
on which the economy and society depend. The desired result is a state of society where living conditions and resources are used to continue to meet human needs without undermining the
integrity Integrity is the practice of being honest and showing a consistent and uncompromising adherence to strong moral and ethical principles and values. In ethics Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the ...

integrity
and stability of the natural system. Sustainable development can be defined as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Sustainability Sustainability is the capacity to endure in a relatively ongoing way across various domains of life. In the 21st century, it refers generally to the capacity for Earth's biosphere and human civilization to co-exist. For many, sustainability is ...

Sustainability
goals, such as the current UN-level
Sustainable Development Goals The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or Global Goals are a collection of 17 interlinked global goals designed to be a "blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable Sustainability is the capacity to endure in a relatively ongoing w ...

Sustainable Development Goals
, address the global challenges, including poverty, inequality,
climate change Contemporary climate change includes both the global warming caused by humans, and its impacts on Earth's weather patterns. There have been previous periods of climate change, but the current changes are more rapid than any known even ...
, environmental degradation, peace, and justice. While the modern concept of sustainable development is derived mostly from the 1987
Brundtland Report __NOTOC__ ''Our Common Future'', also known as the Brundtland Report, was published on October 1987 by the United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that aims to maintain international peace and internation ...
, it is also rooted in earlier ideas about
sustainable forest management Sustainable forest management (SFM) is the management of forests according to the principles of sustainable development Sustainable development is the organizing principle for meeting human development goals while simultaneously sustaining the ...
and 20th-century environmental concerns. As the concept of sustainable development developed, it has shifted its focus more towards the
economic development In the economic An economy (; ) is an area of the production Production may be: Economics and business * Production (economics) * Production, the act of manufacturing goods * Production, in the outline of industrial organization, the act o ...
, social development and environmental protection for future generations.


Definition

Sustainable development can be defined as the practice of maintaining productivity by replacing used resources with resources of equal or greater value without degrading or endangering natural biotic systems. Sustainable development binds together concern for the
carrying capacity The carrying capacity of an Natural environment, environment is the maximum population size of a biological species that can be sustained by that specific environment, given the food, habitat, Drinking water, water, and other resources available. T ...
of natural systems with the social, political and economic challenges faced by humanity.
Sustainability science Sustainability science emerged in the 21st century as a new academic discipline. This new field of science was officially introduced with a "Birth Statement" at the World Congress "Challenges of a Changing Earth 2001" in Amsterdam organized by the I ...
is the study of the concepts of sustainable development and environmental science. There is an emphasis on the present generations' responsibility to regenerate, maintain and improve planetary resources for use by future generations.


Development of the concept


Origins

Sustainable development has its roots in ideas about
sustainable forest management Sustainable forest management (SFM) is the management of forests according to the principles of sustainable development Sustainable development is the organizing principle for meeting human development goals while simultaneously sustaining the ...
, which were developed in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries.Ulrich Grober: Deep roots 
A conceptual history of "sustainable development" (Nachhaltigkeit)
Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung, 2007
In response to a growing awareness of the depletion of timber resources in England,
John Evelyn John Evelyn (31 October 162027 February 1706) was an English writer, gardener and diary, diarist. John Evelyn's Diary, John Evelyn's diary, or memoir, spanned the period of his adult life from 1640, when he was a student, to 1706, the year he ...

John Evelyn
argued, in his 1662 essay '' Sylva'', that "sowing and planting of trees had to be regarded as a national duty of every landowner, in order to stop the destructive over-
exploitation of natural resources The exploitation of natural resources is the use of natural resource Natural resources are resource Resource refers to all the materials available in our environment which help us to satisfy our needs and wants. Resources can broadly be c ...
." In 1713,
Hans Carl von Carlowitz Hans Carl von Carlowitz, originally ''Hannß Carl von Carlowitz'' (24 December 1645 - 3 March 1714), was a German tax accountant and mining administrator. His book ''Sylvicultura oeconomica, oder haußwirthliche Nachricht und Naturmäßige Anweisu ...

Hans Carl von Carlowitz
, a senior mining administrator in the service of Elector
Frederick Augustus I of Saxony pl, Fryderyk August Józef Maria Antoni Jan Nepomucen Alojzy Ksawery , image = Frederick Augustus I of Saxony by Marcello Bacciarelli (ca 1808-1809).png , caption = Portrait by Marcello Bacciarelli Marcello Bacciarelli (; 16 February 1731 – ...
published ''Sylvicultura economics'', a 400-page work on forestry. Building upon the ideas of Evelyn and French minister
Jean-Baptiste Colbert Jean-Baptiste Colbert (; 29 August 1619 – 6 September 1683) was a French statesman who served as First Minister of State from 1661 until his death in 1683 under the rule of King Louis XIV. His lasting impact on the organisation of the country's ...

Jean-Baptiste Colbert
, von Carlowitz developed the concept of managing forests for
sustained yield The Multiple Use - Sustained Yield Act of 1960 (or MUSYA) (Public Law Public law is the part of law that governs relationships between legal persons and a government, between different institutions within a State (polity), state, between Separa ...
. His work influenced others, including
Alexander von Humboldt Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt (14 September 17696 May 1859) was a , , , , and proponent of philosophy and . He was the younger brother of the Prussian minister, philosopher, and (1767–1835). Humboldt's quantitative work ...

Alexander von Humboldt
and
Georg Ludwig Hartig Georg Ludwig Hartig (September 2, 1764 – February 2, 1837) was a German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germ ...

Georg Ludwig Hartig
, eventually leading to the development of the science of forestry. This, in turn, influenced people like
Gifford Pinchot Gifford Pinchot (August 11, 1865October 4, 1946) was an American forester and politician. He served as the 4th Chief of the U.S. Division of Forestry, as the 1st head of the United States Forest Service The United States Forest Service (U ...
, the first head of the
US Forest Service The United States Forest Service (USFS) is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that administers the nation's 154 national forests and 20 national grasslands. The Forest Service manages of land. Major divisions of the agency in ...

US Forest Service
, whose approach to forest management was driven by the idea of wise use of resources, and
Aldo Leopold Aldo Leopold (January 11, 1887 – April 21, 1948) was an American author, philosopher, naturalist, scientist, ecologist, forester, conservationist, and environmentalist. He was a professor at the University of Wisconsin and is best known for his ...
whose
land ethic A land ethic is a philosophy or theoretical framework about how, ethically, humans should regard the land. The term was coined by Aldo Leopold (1887–1948) in his '' A Sand County Almanac'' (1949), a classic text of the environmental movement. Th ...
was influential in the development of the
environmental movement The environmental movement (sometimes referred to as the ecology movement), also including conservation Conservation is the preservation or efficient use of resources, or the conservation of various quantities under physical laws. Conservation ...
in the 1960s. Following the publication of
Rachel Carson Rachel Louise Carson (May 27, 1907 – April 14, 1964) was an American marine biologist, author, and conservation movement, conservationist whose influential book ''Silent Spring'' (1962) and other writings are credited with advancing the g ...
's ''
Silent Spring ''Silent Spring'' is an environmental science book by Rachel Carson. The book was published on September 27, 1962, documenting the adverse environmental effects caused by the indiscriminate use of pesticides. Carson accused the chemical industry ...

Silent Spring
'' in 1962, the developing environmental movement drew attention to the relationship between economic growth and development and
environmental degradation Environmental degradation is the deterioration of the environment Environment most often refers to: __NOTOC__ * Natural environment, all living and non-living things occurring naturally * Biophysical environment, the physical and biological facto ...
.
Kenneth E. Boulding Kenneth Ewart Boulding (; January 18, 1910 – March 18, 1993) was an English-born American economist An economist is a practitioner in the social sciences, social science discipline of economics. The individual may also study, develop, and ...
, in his influential 1966 essay ''The Economics of the Coming
Spaceship Earth Spaceship Earth (or Spacecraft Earth or Spaceship Planet Earth) is a worldview encouraging everyone on Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbor life. About 29% of Earth's surface i ...

Spaceship Earth
'', identified the need for the economic system to fit itself to the ecological system with its limited pools of resources. Another milestone was the 1968 article by
Garrett Hardin Garrett James Hardin (April 21, 1915 – September 14, 2003) was an American ecologist who warned of the dangers of human overpopulation. He is most known for his exposition of the tragedy of the commons, in a 1968 paper of the same title in ''S ...
that popularized the term "
tragedy of the commons In economic science, the tragedy of the commons is a situation in which individual users, who have open access to a resource unhampered by shared social structures or formal rules that govern access and use, act independently according to their s ...
". One of the first uses of the term sustainable in the contemporary sense was by the
Club of Rome The Club of Rome was founded in 1968 at Accademia dei Lincei The Accademia dei Lincei (; literally the "Academy An academy (Attic Greek: Ἀκαδήμεια; Koine Greek Ἀκαδημία) is an institution of secondary education, secondary o ...
in 1972 in its classic report on the ''
Limits to Growth ''The Limits to Growth'' (''LTG'') is a 1972 report on the exponential economic An economy (from Greek language, Greek οίκος – "household" and νέμoμαι – "manage") is an area of the Production (economics), production, Distribut ...

Limits to Growth
'', written by a group of scientists led by
Dennis Dennis or Denis is a first or last name from the Greco-Roman File:Merida Roman Theatre2.jpg, Roman Theatre of Mérida, Spain. The term "Greco-Roman world" (also "Greco-Roman culture" or ; spelled Graeco-Roman in the Commonwealth of Nations, ...

Dennis
and
Donella Meadows Donella Hager "Dana" Meadows (March 13, 1941 – February 20, 2001) was an American environmental scientist, educator, and writer. She is best known as lead author of the books '' The Limits to Growth'' and ''Thinking in Systems: a Primer''. Ea ...
of the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, aft ...
. Describing the desirable "state of global equilibrium", the authors wrote: "We are searching for a model output that represents a world system that is sustainable without sudden and uncontrolled collapse and capable of satisfying the basic material requirements of all of its people." That year also saw the publication of the influential ''
A Blueprint for Survival ''A Blueprint for Survival'' was an influential environmentalist text that drew attention to the urgency and magnitude of environmental problems. First published as a special edition of '' The Ecologist'' in January 1972, it was later published in ...
'' book. Following the Club of Rome report, an MIT research group prepared ten days of hearings on "Growth and Its Implication for the Future" (Roundtable Press, 1973) for the US Congress, the first hearings ever held on sustainable development. In 1980, the
International Union for Conservation of Nature The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN; officially International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) is an international organization An international organization (also known as an international institut ...
published a world conservation strategy that included one of the first references to sustainable development as a global priority and introduced the term "sustainable development". Two years later, the United Nations World Charter for Nature raised five principles of
conservation Conservation is the preservation or efficient use of resources, or the conservation of various quantities under physical laws. Conservation may also refer to: Environment and natural resources * Nature conservation, the protection and manageme ...
by which human conduct affecting nature is to be guided and judged. In 1987, the United Nations
World Commission on Environment and Development Formerly known as the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), the mission of the Brundtland Commission is to unite countries to pursue sustainable development Sustainable development is the organizing principle for meeting human ...
released the report ''Our Common Future'', commonly called the
Brundtland Report __NOTOC__ ''Our Common Future'', also known as the Brundtland Report, was published on October 1987 by the United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that aims to maintain international peace and internation ...
. The report included what is now one of the most widely recognized definitions of sustainable development. Since the
Brundtland Report __NOTOC__ ''Our Common Future'', also known as the Brundtland Report, was published on October 1987 by the United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that aims to maintain international peace and internation ...
, the concept of sustainable development has developed beyond the initial intergenerational framework to focus more on the goal of "socially inclusive and environmentally
sustainable economic growth Sustainable development is the organizing principleAn organizing principle is a core assumption from which everything else by proximity can derive a classification or a value. It is like a central reference point that allows all other objects to b ...
". In 1992, the UN Conference on Environment and Development published the
Earth Charter The Earth Charter is an international declaration of fundamental values and principles considered useful by its supporters for building a just, sustainable, and peaceful global society in the 21st century. Created by a global consultation process, a ...
, which outlines the building of a just, sustainable, and peaceful global society in the 21st century. The action plan
Agenda 21 Agenda 21 is a non-binding action planAn action plan is a detailed plan A plan is typically any diagram or list of steps with details of timing and resources, used to achieve an Goal, objective to do something. It is commonly understood as a ...
for sustainable development identified information, integration, and participation as key building blocks to help countries achieve development that recognizes these interdependent pillars. It emphasises that in sustainable development, everyone is a user and provider of information. It stresses the need to change from old sector-centred ways of doing business to new approaches that involve cross-sectoral co-ordination and the integration of environmental and social concerns into all development processes. Furthermore, Agenda 21 emphasises that broad public participation in decision making is a fundamental prerequisite for achieving sustainable development. Under the principles of the
United Nations Charter The Charter of the United Nations (also known as the UN Charter) is the foundational treaty A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law International law, also known as public internation ...

United Nations Charter
the
Millennium Declaration On 8 September 2000, following a three-day Millennium Summit of world leaders gathered in New York at the headquarters of the United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that aims to maintain international p ...
identified principles and treaties on sustainable development, including
economic development In the economic An economy (; ) is an area of the production Production may be: Economics and business * Production (economics) * Production, the act of manufacturing goods * Production, in the outline of industrial organization, the act o ...
, social development and
environmental protection Environmental protection is the practice of protecting the natural environment The natural environment or natural world encompasses all and non-living things occurring , meaning in this case not . The term is most often applied to the or s ...
. Broadly defined, sustainable development is a systems approach to growth and development and to manage natural, produced, and
social capital Social capital is "the networks of relationships among people who live and work in a particular society, enabling that society to function effectively". It involves the effective functioning of social group In the social science Soc ...
for the welfare of their own and future generations. The term sustainable development as used by the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization aiming to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harm ...

United Nations
incorporates both issues associated with
land development Land development is altering the landscape in any number of ways such as: * Changing landforms from a natural or semi-natural state for a purpose such as agriculture or House, housing * subdivision (land), Subdividing real estate into Lot (real est ...
and broader issues of
human developmentHuman development may refer to: * Development of the human body * Developmental psychology * Human development (economics) * Human Development Index, an index used to rank countries by level of human development * Human evolution, the prehistoric p ...
such as education, public health, and standard of living. A 2013 study concluded that sustainability reporting should be reframed through the lens of four interconnected domains: ecology, economics, politics and culture.


Reception

The concept of sustainable development has been, and still is, subject to criticism, including the question of what is to be sustained in sustainable development. It has been argued that there is no such thing as a sustainable use of a
non-renewable resource A non-renewable resource (also called a finite resource) is a natural resource Natural resources are resource Resource refers to all the materials available in our environment which help us to satisfy our needs and wants. Resources can ...
, since any positive rate of exploitation will eventually lead to the exhaustion of earth's finite stock; this perspective renders the
Industrial Revolution The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in Great Britain, continental Europe Continental Europe or mainland Europe is the contiguous continent A continent is any of several large landmasse ...
as a whole unsustainable. The sustainable development debate is based on the assumption that societies need to manage three types of capital (economic, social, and natural), which may be non-substitutable and whose consumption might be irreversible. Leading ecological economist and steady-state theorist Herman Daly, for example, points to the fact that
natural capital on "natural capital" and "balancing the budget of our resources" File:Fires along the Rio Xingu, Brazil - NASA Earth Observatory.jpg, Fires along the Rio Xingu, Brazil - NASA Earth Observatory. Loss of natural capital assets may have significant ...
can not necessarily be substituted by economic capital. While it is possible that we can find ways to replace some natural resources, it is much more unlikely that they will ever be able to replace eco-system services, such as the protection provided by the ozone layer, or the climate stabilizing function of the Amazonian forest. In fact natural capital, social capital and economic capital are often complementarities. A further obstacle to substitutability lies also in the multi-functionality of many natural resources. Forests, for example, not only provide the raw material for paper (which can be substituted quite easily), but they also maintain biodiversity, regulate water flow, and absorb .


Requirements

Six interdependent capacities are deemed to be necessary for the successful pursuit of sustainable development. These are the capacities to measure progress towards sustainable development; promote equity within and between generations; adapt to shocks and surprises; transform the system onto more sustainable development pathways; link knowledge with action for sustainability; and to devise governance arrangements that allow people to work together in exercising the other capacities.


Dimensions

Sustainable development can be thought of in terms of three spheres, dimensions, domains or pillars: the environment, the economy and society. The three-sphere framework was initially proposed by the economist Rene Passet in 1979. It has also been worded as "economic, environmental and social" or "ecology, economy and equity". This has been expanded by some authors to include a fourth pillar of culture, institutions or governance, or alternatively reconfigured as four domains of the social – ecology, economics, politics and culture, thus bringing economics back inside the social, and treating ecology as the intersection of the social and the natural.


Environmental (or ecological)

The
ecological stabilityAn ecosystem An ecosystem is a community (ecology), community of living organisms in conjunction with the nonliving components of their environment, interacting as a system. These Biotic component, biotic and abiotic components are linked toget ...
of human settlements is part of the relationship between humans and their natural, social and
built environment In urban planning, architecture and civil engineering, the term built environment, or built world, refers to the human impact on the environment, human-made environment that provides the setting for human behavior, human activity, including Home, ...
s. Also termed
human ecology 275px, Part of the '' built environment'' suburban tract housing">suburb.html" ;"title="built environment'' suburb">built environment'' suburban tract housing in Colorado Springs, Colorado Human ecology is an interdisciplinary and transdiscipli ...
, this broadens the focus of sustainable development to include the domain of human health. Fundamental human needs such as the availability and quality of air, water, food and shelter are also the ecological foundations for sustainable development; addressing public health risk through investments in
ecosystem services Ecosystem services are the many and varied benefits to humans provided by the natural environment and from healthy . Such ecosystems include, for example, s, s, s and s. These ecosystems, functioning in healthy relationship, offer such things ...
can be a powerful and transformative force for sustainable development which, in this sense, extends to all species. Environmental sustainability concerns the
natural environment The natural environment or natural world encompasses all life, living and non-living things occurring nature, naturally, meaning in this case not Artificiality, artificial. The term is most often applied to the Earth or some parts of Earth. Th ...

natural environment
and how it endures and remains diverse and productive. Since
natural resources , Malaysia Malaysia ( ; ) is a country in Southeast Asia. The federation, federal constitutional monarchy consists of States and federal territories of Malaysia, thirteen states and three federal territories, separated by the South China Se ...
are derived from the environment, the state of air, water, and the climate is of particular concern. The
IPCC Fifth Assessment Report The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an intergovernmental body of the United Nations responsible for advancing knowledge on Attribution of recent climate change, human-induced climate change. It was established in 1988 by the ...
outlines current knowledge about scientific, technical and socio-economic information concerning
climate change Contemporary climate change includes both the global warming caused by humans, and its impacts on Earth's weather patterns. There have been previous periods of climate change, but the current changes are more rapid than any known even ...
, and lists options for
adaptation In , adaptation has three related meanings. Firstly, it is the dynamic evolutionary process that fits s to their environment, enhancing their . Secondly, it is a state reached by the population during that process. Thirdly, it is a or adapti ...
and
mitigation Mitigation is the reduction of something harmful or the reduction of its harmful effects. It may refer to measures taken to reduce the harmful effects of hazards that remain ''in potentia'', or to manage harmful incidents that have already occurred ...
. Environmental sustainability requires society to design activities to meet human needs while preserving the life support systems of the planet. This, for example, entails using water sustainably, using renewable energy and sustainable material supplies (e.g. harvesting wood from forests at a rate that maintains the biomass and biodiversity). An unsustainable situation occurs when
natural capital on "natural capital" and "balancing the budget of our resources" File:Fires along the Rio Xingu, Brazil - NASA Earth Observatory.jpg, Fires along the Rio Xingu, Brazil - NASA Earth Observatory. Loss of natural capital assets may have significant ...
(the total of nature's resources) is used up faster than it can be replenished. Sustainability requires that human activity only uses nature's resources at a rate at which they can be replenished naturally. The concept of sustainable development is intertwined with the concept of carrying capacity. Theoretically, the long-term result of
environmental degradation Environmental degradation is the deterioration of the environment Environment most often refers to: __NOTOC__ * Natural environment, all living and non-living things occurring naturally * Biophysical environment, the physical and biological facto ...
is the inability to sustain human life. Such degradation on a global scale should imply an increase in human death rate until population falls to what the degraded environment can support. Integral elements for a sustainable development are research and innovation activities. An example is the
European environmental research and innovation policyThe European environmental research and innovation policy is a set of strategies, actions and programmes to promote more and better research and innovation for building a resource-efficient and climate Climate is the long-term average of weather, ...
, which aims at defining and implementing a transformative agenda to greening the economy and the society as a whole so to achieve sustainable development. Research and innovation in Europe is financially supported by the programme
Horizon 2020 The Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development, also called Framework Programmes or abbreviated FP1 to FP9, are funding programmes created by the European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic uni ...
, which is also open to participation worldwide. A promising direction towards sustainable development is to design systems that are flexible and reversible. Pollution of the public resources is not a different action, it is just a reverse
tragedy of the commons In economic science, the tragedy of the commons is a situation in which individual users, who have open access to a resource unhampered by shared social structures or formal rules that govern access and use, act independently according to their s ...
, in that instead of taking something out, something is put into the commons. When the costs of polluting the commons are not calculated into the cost of the items consumed, then it becomes only natural to pollute, as the cost of pollution is external to the cost of the goods produced and the cost of cleaning the waste before it is discharged exceeds the cost of releasing the waste directly into the commons. One of the ways to mitigate this problem is by protecting the ecology of the commons by making it, through taxes or fines, more costly to release the waste directly into the commons than would be the cost of cleaning the waste before discharge.


Economics

It has been suggested that because of
rural poverty Rural poverty refers to poverty in rural areas, including factors of Rural sociology, rural society, Rural economics, rural economy, and political systems that give rise to the poverty found there.Janvry, A. de, E. Sadoulet, and R. Murgai. 2002 ...
and
overexploitation Overexploitation, also called overharvesting, refers to harvesting a renewable resource File:Global Vegetation.jpg, Global vegetation A renewable resource, also known as a flow resource, is a natural resource which will replenish to replace th ...

overexploitation
, environmental resources should be treated as important economic assets, called natural capital. Economic development has traditionally required a growth in the gross domestic product. This model of unlimited personal and GDP growth may be over. Sustainable development may involve improvements in the quality of life for many but may necessitate a decrease in
resource consumptionResource consumption is about the consumption of non-renewable A non-renewable resource (also called a finite resource) is a natural resource that cannot be readily replaced by natural means at a quick enough pace to keep up with consumption. An e ...
. According to ecological economist Malte Faber, ecological economics is defined by its focus on nature, justice, and time. Issues of
intergenerational equity Intergenerational equity in economic, psychological, and sociological contexts, is the concept or idea of fairness or justice Justice, one of the four cardinal virtues, by Vitruvio Alberi, 1589–1590. Fresco, corner of the vault, studiolo of ...
,
irreversibility In science, a process A process is a series or set of Action (philosophy), activities that interact to produce a result; it may occur once-only or be recurrent or periodic. Things called a process include: Business and management *Business proc ...
of environmental change,
uncertainty Uncertainty refers to epistemic Epistemology (; ) is the branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, ...

uncertainty
of long-term outcomes, and sustainable development guide ecological economic analysis and valuation. As early as the 1970s, the concept of sustainability was used to describe an economy "in equilibrium with basic ecological support systems". Scientists in many fields have highlighted ''
The Limits to Growth ''The Limits to Growth'' (''LTG'') is a 1972 report on the exponential Economic growth, economic and population growth with a finite supply of resources, studied by computer simulation. The study used the World3 computer model to simulate the c ...
'', and economists have presented alternatives, for example a '
steady-state economy A steady-state economy is an economy made up of a constant stock of physical wealth (capital) and a constant population size. In effect, such an economy does not grow in the course of time. The term usually refers to the national economy of ...
', to address concerns over the impacts of expanding human development on the planet. In 1987, the economist Edward Barbier published the study ''The Concept of Sustainable Economic Development'', where he recognised that goals of environmental conservation and economic development are not conflicting and can be reinforcing each other. A
World Bank The World Bank is an international financial institution An international financial institution (IFI) is a financial institution that has been established (or chartered) by more than one country, and hence is subject to international law. Its o ...
study from 1999 concluded that based on the theory of genuine savings, policymakers have many possible interventions to increase sustainability, in
macroeconomics Macroeconomics (from the Greek prefix ''makro-'' meaning "large" + ''economics'') is a branch of economics Economics () is a social science Social science is the branch A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred ...
or purely environmental. Several studies have noted that efficient policies for renewable energy and pollution are compatible with increasing human welfare, eventually reaching a golden-rule steady state. The study, ''Interpreting Sustainability in Economic Terms'', found three pillars of sustainable development, interlinkage,
intergenerational equity Intergenerational equity in economic, psychological, and sociological contexts, is the concept or idea of fairness or justice Justice, one of the four cardinal virtues, by Vitruvio Alberi, 1589–1590. Fresco, corner of the vault, studiolo of ...
, and dynamic efficiency. However, Gilbert Rist says that the World Bank has twisted the notion of sustainable development to prove that economic development need not be deterred in the interest of preserving the ecosystem. He writes: "From this angle, 'sustainable development' looks like a cover-up operation. ... The thing that is meant to be sustained is really 'development', not the tolerance capacity of the ecosystem or of human societies." The World Bank, a leading producer of environmental knowledge, continues to advocate the win-win prospects for economic growth and ecological stability even as its economists express their doubts.
Herman Daly Herman Edward Daly (born July 21, 1938) is an American ecological and Georgist economist and emeritus professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy, School of Public Policy of University of Maryland, College Park in the United S ...
, an economist for the Bank from 1988 to 1994, writes:
When authors of ''WDR'' '92 he highly influential 1992 ''World Development Report'' that featured the environmentwere drafting the report, they called me asking for examples of "win-win" strategies in my work. What could I say? None exists in that pure form; there are trade-offs, not "win-wins." But they want to see a world of "win-wins" based on articles of faith, not fact. I wanted to contribute because ''WDR''s are important in the Bank, ecausetask managers read
hem A hem in sewing Sewing is the craft of fastening or attaching objects using stitches made with a sewing needle A sewing needle, used for hand- sewing, is a long slender tool with a pointed tip at one end and a hole (or ''eye'') at the oth ...

hem
to find philosophical justification for their latest round of projects. But they did not want to hear about how things really are, or what I find in my work...
A meta review in 2002 looked at environmental and economic valuations and found a lack of "sustainability policies". A study in 2004 asked if humans consume too much. A study concluded in 2007 that knowledge, manufactured and human capital (health and education) has not compensated for the degradation of natural capital in many parts of the world. It has been suggested that intergenerational equity can be incorporated into a sustainable development and decision making, as has become common in economic valuations of climate economics. A meta review in 2009 identified conditions for a strong case to act on climate change, and called for more work to fully account of the relevant economics and how it affects human welfare. According to John Baden, a free-market environmentalist, "the improvement of environment quality depends on the
market economy A market economy is an economic system An economic system, or economic order, is a system A system is a group of interacting Interaction is a kind of action that occurs as two or more objects have an effect upon one another. The ide ...
and the existence of legitimate and protected
property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the property, an owner of property may have the right to consume, alter, share, r ...
rights". They enable the effective practice of personal responsibility and the development of mechanisms to protect the environment. The State can in this context "create conditions which encourage the people to save the environment".


Environmental economics

The total environment includes not just the
biosphere The biosphere (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is ap ...
of Earth, air, and water, but also human interactions with these things, with nature, and what humans have created as their surroundings. As countries around the world continue to advance economically, they put a strain on the ability of the natural environment to absorb the high level of pollutants that are created as a part of this economic growth. Therefore, solutions need to be found so that the economies of the world can continue to grow, but not at the expense of the public good. In the world of economics, the amount of environmental quality must be considered as limited in supply and therefore is treated as a scarce resource. This is a resource to be protected. One common way to analyze possible outcomes of policy decisions on the scarce resource is to do a cost-benefit analysis. This type of analysis contrasts different options of resource allocation and, based on an evaluation of the expected courses of action and the consequences of these actions, the optimal way to do so in the light of different policy goals can be elicited. The benefit-cost analysis in essence look at several ways of solving a problem and then assigning the best route for a solution, based on the set of consequences that would result from the further development of the individual courses of action, and then choosing the course of action that results in the least damage to the expected outcome for the environmental quality that remains after that development or process takes place. Further complicating this analysis are the interrelationships of the various parts of the environment that might be impacted by the chosen course of action. Sometimes, it is almost impossible to predict the various outcomes of a course of action, due to the unexpected consequences and the number of unknowns that are not accounted for in the benefit-cost analysis.


Technology

One of the core concepts in sustainable development is that technology can be used to assist people to meet their developmental needs. Technology to meet these sustainable development needs is often referred to as
appropriate technology Appropriate technology is a movement (and its manifestations) encompassing technological Technology ("science of craft", from Ancient Greek, Greek , ''techne'', "art, skill, cunning of hand"; and , ''wikt:-logia, -logia'') is the sum of Art t ...

appropriate technology
, which is an ideological movement (and its manifestations) originally articulated as
intermediate technology Appropriate technology is a movement (and its manifestations) encompassing technological Technology ("science of craft", from Ancient Greek, Greek , ''techne'', "art, skill, cunning of hand"; and , ''wikt:-logia, -logia'') is the sum of Art te ...
by the economist E. F. Schumacher in his influential work ''
Small Is Beautiful ''Small Is Beautiful: A Study of Economics As If People Mattered'' is a collection of essays by German-born British economist E. F. Schumacher. The phrase "Small Is Beautiful" came from a principle espoused by Schumacher's teacher Leopo ...
'' and now covers a wide range of technologies. Both Schumacher and many modern-day proponents of appropriate technology also emphasise the technology as people-centered. Today appropriate technology is often developed using
open source Open source is source code that is made freely available for possible modification and redistribution. Products include permission to use the source code, design documents, or content of the product. The open-source model is a decentralized softwa ...
principles, which have led to
open-source appropriate technology Open-source appropriate technology (OSAT) is appropriate technology developed through the principles of the open-design movement. Appropriate technology is technology designed with special consideration to the environmental, ethical, cultural, soci ...
(OSAT) and thus many of the plans of the technology can be freely found on the Internet. OSAT has been proposed as a new model of enabling
innovation Innovation is the practical implementation of ideas A mental representation (or cognitive representation), in philosophy of mind Philosophy of mind is a branch of philosophy that studies the ontology and nature of the mind and its relation ...

innovation
for sustainable development.


Business

The most broadly accepted criterion for corporate sustainability constitutes a firm's efficient use of natural capital. This
eco-efficiencyOver the years, as countries and regions around the world began to develop, it slowly became evident that industrialization and economic growth come hand in hand with environmental degradation. Eco-efficiency has been proposed as one of the main t ...
is usually calculated as the economic value added by a firm in relation to its aggregated ecological impact. This idea has been popularised by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development ( WBCSD) under the following definition: "Eco-efficiency is achieved by the delivery of competitively priced goods and services that satisfy human needs and bring quality of life, while progressively reducing ecological impacts and
resource intensityResource intensity is a measure of the resources (e.g. water, energy, Raw material, materials) needed for the production, processing and disposal of a unit of good (economics), good or service (economics), service, or for the completion of a process ...
throughout the life-cycle to a level at least in line with the earth's carrying capacity" (DeSimone and Popoff, 1997: 47). Similar to the eco-efficiency concept but so far less explored is the second criterion for corporate sustainability. Socio-efficiency describes the relation between a firm's value added and its social impact. Whereas, it can be assumed that most corporate impacts on the environment are negative (apart from rare exceptions such as the planting of trees) this is not true for social impacts. These can be either positive (e.g. corporate giving, creation of employment) or negative (e.g. work accidents, mobbing of employees, human rights abuses). Both eco-efficiency and socio-efficiency are concerned primarily with increasing economic sustainability. In this process they instrumentalise both natural and social capital aiming to benefit from win-win situations. However, as Dyllick and Hockerts point out the business case alone will not be sufficient to realise sustainable development. They point towards eco-effectiveness, socio-effectiveness, sufficiency, and eco-equity as four criteria that need to be met if sustainable development is to be reached.


Architecture and construction

In sustainable architecture the recent movements of
New Urbanism New Urbanism is an urban design While many assume urban design is about the process of designing and shaping the physical features of cities A city is a large human settlement In geography, statistics and archaeology, a settlement, lo ...

New Urbanism
and
New Classical architecture#REDIRECT New Classical architecture {{redirect category shell, {{R from other capitalization{{R from move ...
promote a sustainable approach towards
construction Construction is a general term meaning the and to form , , or ,"Construction" def. 1.a. 1.b. and 1.c. ''Oxford English Dictionary'' Second Edition on CD-ROM (v. 4.0) Oxford University Press 2009 and comes from ''constructio'' (from ''com-' ...
that appreciates and develops smart growth, Vernacular architecture, architectural tradition and Classical architecture, classical design. This in contrast to Modern architecture, modernist and International Style (architecture), International Style architecture, as well as opposing to solitary housing estates and Urban sprawl, suburban sprawl, with long commuting distances and large ecological footprints. The global design and construction industry is responsible for approximately 39 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. Green building, Green building practices that avoid emissions or capture the carbon already present in the environment, allow for reduced footprint of the construction industry, for example, use of hempcrete, Cellulose insulation, cellulose fiber insulation, and landscaping.


= Peace, security, social justice

= Social disruptions like war, crime and Political corruption, corruption divert resources from areas of greatest human need, damage the capacity of societies to plan for the future, and generally threaten human well-being and the environment.Blewitt, J. (2008). ''Understanding Sustainable Development''. London: Earthscan. p. 96. ..


Culture

Working with a different emphasis, some researchers and institutions have pointed out that a fourth dimension should be added to the dimensions of sustainable development, since the triple-bottom-line dimensions of economic, environmental and social do not seem to be enough to reflect the complexity of contemporary society. In this context, the Agenda 21 for culture and the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) published the policy statement "Culture: Fourth Pillar of Sustainable Development", at the 2010 World Congress of UCLG. This document argues for a new perspective and points to the relation between culture and sustainable development through developing a solid cultural policy and advocating a cultural dimension in all public policies. The Circles of Sustainability approach distinguishes the four domains of economic, ecological, political and cultural sustainability.United Cities and Local Governments
"Culture: Fourth Pillar of Sustainable Development"
.
Other organizations have also supported the idea of a fourth domain of sustainable development. The Network of Excellence "Sustainable Development in a Diverse World", sponsored by the European Union, integrates multidisciplinary capacities and interprets cultural diversity as a key element of a new strategy for sustainable development. Human-centered design and cultural collaboration have been popular frameworks for sustainable development in marginalized communities. These frameworks involve open dialogue which entails sharing, debating, and discussing, as well as holistic evaluation of the site of development.


Measurement approaches


Sustainable Development Goals


See also

*Applied sustainability *Circles of Sustainability *Circular economy *Computational sustainability *Cradle-to-cradle *Ecological footprint *Education for sustainable development *Earth system governance *Green development *Micro-sustainability *Sustainable agriculture *Sustainable living *Sustainable energy *Sustainable redevelopment *Sustainable transport


References


External links

*
Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform
United Nations platform on sustainable development.
UK Sustainable Development Commission
*
World Bank
website on sustainable development. {{DEFAULTSORT:Sustainable Development Sustainable development, Academic disciplines Environmental social science concepts Sustainable architecture Sustainable building Sustainable design Sustainable urban planning Sustainability