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Sustainability is the capacity to endure in a relatively ongoing way across various domains of life. In the
21st century The 21st (twenty-first) century is the current century A century is a period of 100 years. Centuries are numbered names of numbers in English#Ordinal numbers, ordinally in English and many other languages. The word ''century'' comes from the L ...

21st century
, it refers generally to the capacity for Earth's
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 ...
and human
civilization  A civilization (or civilisation) is a complex society A complex society is a concept that is shared by a range of disciplines including anthropology, archaeology, history and sociology to describe a stage of social formation. The concep ...

civilization
to co-exist. For many, sustainability is defined through the interconnected domains of
environment Environment most often refers to: __NOTOC__ * Natural environment, all living and non-living things occurring naturally * Biophysical environment, the physical and biological factors along with their chemical interactions that affect an organism or ...

environment
,
economy 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 of making products ...

economy
and
society A society is a group A group is a number A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measure, and nominal number, label. The original examples are the natural numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and so forth. Numbers can be ...

society
. Despite the increased popularity of the term "sustainability" and its usage, the possibility that human societies will achieve environmental sustainability has been, and continues to be, questioned—in light 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 ...
,
biodiversity loss Biodiversity loss includes the extinction Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that functions as an individual entity. All organisms are composed of cells ...
,
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 ...
,
overconsumption Overconsumption describes a situation where the use of a natural resource has exceeded the Sustainable yield, sustainable capacity of a system. A prolonged pattern of overconsumption leads to the eventual loss of resource bases. The term overconsu ...
,
population growth Population growth is the increase in the number of people in a population Population typically refers the number of people in a single area whether it be a city or town, region, country, or the world. Governments typically quantify the size ...
and societies' pursuit of unlimited
economic growth Economic growth can be defined as the increase or improvement in the inflation-adjusted market value of the goods and services produced by an economics, economy over time. Statisticians conventionally measure such growth as the percent rate of i ...

economic growth
in a
closed system A closed system is a physical system A physical system is a collection of physical objects. In physics, it is a portion of the physical universe chosen for analysis. Everything outside the system is known as the environment (systems), environm ...
. A related concept is that of "
sustainable development Sustainable development is the organizing principle for meeting human development goals while simultaneously sustaining the ability of natural systems to provide the natural resources and ecosystem services Social forestry in India, Social ...

sustainable development
", which is often discussed through the domains of
culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and Norm (social), norms found in human Society, societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, Social norm, customs, capabilities, and habits of the individuals i ...
,
technology Technology ("science of craft", 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. I ...

technology
economics and
politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations between individuals, such as the distribution of res ...

politics
. Sustainable development may be seen as 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 be located, often used in a conceptual framework A con ...
of sustainability. According to ''
Our Common Future __NOTOC__ ''Our Common Future'', also known as the Brundtland Report, was published on October 1987 by the through the . This publication was in recognition of 's, former Norwegian Prime Minister, role as Chair of the (WCED). Its targets were m ...
'' (the "Brundtland Report" in 1987), sustainable development is defined as development that "meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." Moving towards sustainability can involve social challenges such as individual
lifestyle Lifestyle often refers to: * Lifestyle (sociology), the way a person lives * ''Otium'', ancient Roman concept of a lifestyle * Style of life (german: Lebensstil), dealing with the dynamics of personality Lifestyle may also refer to: Business and ...
s and
ethical consumerism Ethical consumerism (alternatively called ethical consumption, ethical purchasing, moral purchasing, ethical sourcing, or ethical shopping and also associated with sustainable and green consumerism) is a type of consumer activism ''See also Brand ...
.
Sustainable living Sustainable living describes a that attempts to reduce an individual's or 's use of the Earth's , and one's personal resources.Ainoa, J., Kaskela, A., Lahti, L., Saarikoski, N., Sivunen, A., Storgårds, J., & Zhang, H. (2009). Future of Living. I ...
approaches can reduce environmental impacts by altering the built environment to create more
sustainable cities The sustainable city, eco-city, or green city is a city designed with consideration for social, economic, environmental impact (commonly referred to as the triple bottom line The triple bottom line (or otherwise noted as TBL or 3BL) is an accou ...
which support
sustainable transport Sustainable transport refers to the broad subject of transport Transport (in British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic languag ...
and zero emission housing as well as
sustainable architecture Sustainable architecture is architecture upright=1.45, alt=Plan d'exécution du second étage de l'hôtel de Brionne (dessin) De Cotte 2503c – Gallica 2011 (adjusted), Plan of the second floor (attic storey) of the Hôtel de Brionne in ...
and
circular flow land use management Circular flow land use management, or ''CircUse'', is a name for a particular process in which neglected land in urban area An urban area, or built-up area, is a human settlement with a high population density and infrastructure of built enviro ...
. The philosophical and analytic framework of sustainability draws on and connects with many different disciplines and fields; this is also called
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 ...
.


Definitions and common use


History

Originally, "sustainability" meant making only such use of natural, renewable resources that people could continue to rely on their yields in the long term.Compare: The English-language word had a legal technical sense from 1835 and a resource-management connotation from 1953. The concept of sustainability, or ''Nachhaltigkeit'' in German, can be traced back to
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
(1645–1714), and was applied to
forestry Forestry is the science and craft of creating, managing, planting, using, conserving and repairing forest A forest is an area of land dominated by tree In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated Plant stem, ste ...
. However, the idea itself goes back to times immemorial, as communities have always worried about the capacity of their environment to sustain them in the long term. Many ancient cultures had traditions restricting the use of natural resources, e.g. the Maoris of New Zealand, the Amerindians of coastal British Columbia and peoples of Indonesia, Oceania, India and Mali.


Etymology

The term sustainability is derived from the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
''sustinere'' (''tenere'', to hold; ''sub'', under). ''Sustain'' can mean "maintain", "support", "uphold" or "endure."


Policy concept

Modern use of the term "sustainability" was taking off with the UN Commission on Environment and Development, also known as the
Brundtland CommissionFormerly 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 d ...
, set up in 1983. According to ''
Our Common Future __NOTOC__ ''Our Common Future'', also known as the Brundtland Report, was published on October 1987 by the through the . This publication was in recognition of 's, former Norwegian Prime Minister, role as Chair of the (WCED). Its targets were m ...
'' (also known as the "Brundtland Report"),
sustainable development Sustainable development is the organizing principle for meeting human development goals while simultaneously sustaining the ability of natural systems to provide the natural resources and ecosystem services Social forestry in India, Social ...

sustainable development
is defined as development that "meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."United Nations General Assembly (1987
''Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development: Our Common Future''
Transmitted to the General Assembly as an Annex to document A/42/427 – Development and International Co-operation: Environment. Retrieved on: 15 February 2009
Sustainable development may be 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 be located, often used in a conceptual framework A con ...
of sustainability, yet others may view the two terms as paradoxical (seeing development as inherently unsustainable). The word sustainability is also used widely by development agencies and international
charities A charitable organization or charity is an organization whose primary objectives are philanthropy and social well-being (e.g. educational, religious Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, b ...
to focus their poverty alleviation efforts in ways that can be sustained by the local populace and its environment.


Contemporary use (three dimensions)

A different view of sustainability emerged in the 1990s. Here, sustainability is not seen in terms of confronting human aspirations for increased well-being with the limitations imposed by the environment, but rather as a systems view of these aspirations, incorporating environmental concerns. Under this conception, sustainability is defined through the following interconnected domains or pillars: environmental,
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 of making products ...

economic
and social. In crude versions of this view (also termed the ‘
triple bottom line The triple bottom line (or otherwise noted as TBL or 3BL) is an accounting Accounting or Accountancy is the measurement, processing, and communication of financial and non financial information about economic entity, economic entities such as b ...
’), the three dimensions are equivalent, and the aim is to achieve a balance between them. More sophisticated versions recognize that the economic dimension is subsumed under the social one (i.e., the economy is part of society), and that the environmental dimension constrains both the social and the economic one. In fact, the three pillars are interdependent, and in the long run, none can exist without the others. The term "sustainability" and its derived definition continue to change and adapt as the world advances and opinions develop. The 2005 World Summit on Social Development identified
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
(SDGs), such as economic development, social development, and environmental protection. This view can be expressed as a “wedding-cake” model, in which each of the 17 SDGs is assigned to one of the three dimensions. The three pillars have served as a common ground for numerous
sustainability standards and certification Sustainability standards and certifications are voluntary guidelines used by producers, manufacturers, traders, retailers, and service providers to demonstrate their commitment to good environmental, social, ethical, and food safety practices. Ther ...
systems, in particular in the food industry. Standards which today explicitly refer to the triple bottom line include
Rainforest Alliance The Rainforest Alliance is an international non-governmental organization (NGO) based in New York City and Amsterdam, with operations in more than 60 countries. It was founded in 1987 by Daniel Katz (environmental activist), Daniel Katz, an Americ ...
,
Fairtrade The Fairtrade certification initiative was created to form a new method for trade, economic trade. This method takes an ethical standpoint, and considers the Producer (agriculture), producers first. In the 1960s and 1970s, several early attemp ...

Fairtrade
,
UTZ Certified UTZ, formerly called UTZ Certified, is a program and a label for sustainable farming. The UTZ label is featured on more than 10,000 product packages in over 116 countries. In 2014, UTZ was reported to be the largest program for sustainable farmin ...

UTZ Certified
, and GLOBALG.A.P. Sustainability standards are used in global supply chains in various sectors and industries such as
agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise trends, Increases in sedentary behaviors su ...

agriculture
,
mining Mining is the extraction of valuable mineral In geology and mineralogy, a mineral or mineral species is, broadly speaking, a solid chemical compound with a fairly well-defined chemical composition and a specific crystal structure that occu ...

mining
,
forestry Forestry is the science and craft of creating, managing, planting, using, conserving and repairing forest A forest is an area of land dominated by tree In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated Plant stem, ste ...
, and
fisheries Fishery is the enterprise of raising or harvesting fish and other aquatic life. Commercial fisheries include wild fisheries and Fish farming, fish farms, both in fresh water (about 10% of all catch) and the oceans (about 90%). About 500 million pe ...

fisheries
. Based on the ITC Standards, the most frequently covered products are agricultural products, followed by processed food. The economy is a subsystem of human society, which is itself a subsystem of the biosphere, and a gain in one sector is a loss in another. This perspective led to the nested circles' figure (above) of 'economics' inside 'society' inside the 'environment'. Thus, the simple definition of sustainability as something that may constrain development has been expanded to incorporate improving the . This conveys the idea of sustainability having quantifiable limits. On the other hand, sustainability is also a call to action, a task in progress or "journey" and therefore a political process, so some definitions set out common goals and values. 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 ...
The Earth Charter Initiative (2000)
"The Earth Charter."
Retrieved on: 5 April 2009.
speaks of "a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace." This suggests a more complex image of sustainability, which includes the domain of politics. Essentially, sustainability can not be ensured through one route means of focus, attention, and action. It must be cultivated through a complete targeting of the object itself to ensure results and feasibility. More than that, sustainability implies responsible and proactive decision-making and innovation that minimizes negative impact and maintains a balance between
ecological resilience In ecology, resilience is the capacity of an ecosystem to respond to a perturbation or disturbance by resisting damage and recovering quickly. Such perturbations and disturbances can include stochastic Stochastic () refers to the property o ...
, economic prosperity, political justice and cultural vibrancy to ensure a desirable planet for all species now and in the future. Understanding sustainable development is important but without clear targets, it remains an unfocused term like "liberty" or "justice." It has also been described as a "dialogue of values that challenge the sociology of development." Sustainability can also be defined as a socio-ecological process characterized by the pursuit of a common ideal. An ideal is by definition unattainable in a given time and space. However, by persistently and dynamically approaching it, the process results in a sustainable system.


Critique and variations


Call for further dimensions

Some sustainability experts and practitioners have proposed additional pillars of sustainability. A common one is culture, resulting in a quadruple bottom line.United Cities and Local Governments
"Culture: Fourth Pillar of Sustainable Development"
There is also an opinion that considers resource use and financial sustainability as two additional pillars of sustainability.Dhakal, Krishna P.; Oh, Jun S. (2011). "Integrating Sustainability into Highway Projects: Sustainability Indicators and Assessment Tool for Michigan Roads". ''T&DI Congress 2011''. American Society of Civil Engineers. pp. 987–996.
doi #REDIRECT DOI DOI or Doi may refer to: Science and technology * Digital object identifier, an international standard for document identification * Distinctness of image, a quantification of vision used in optics * 2,5-Dimethoxy-4-iodoamphetamine, a ...
:10.1061/41167(398)94. ISBN 9780784411674.
In infrastructure projects, for instance, one must ask whether sufficient financing capability for maintenance exists. An example of this four-dimensional view is the
Circles of Sustainability Circles of Sustainability is a method for understanding and assessing sustainability, and for managing projects directed towards socially sustainable outcomes. It is intended to handle 'seemingly intractable problems' such as outlined in sus ...
approach, which includes cultural sustainability. This goes beyond the three dimensions of the
United Nations 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 UN United Nations General Assembly, General Assembly adopted some 60 goals regarding peace; developmen ...
but is in accord with 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
,
Unesco The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'éducation, la science et la culture) is a specialised agency United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous orga ...

Unesco
,
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 ...
, and in particular the Agenda 21 for culture which specifies culture as the fourth domain of sustainable development. The model is now being used by organizations such as 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 ...
Cities Program and Metropolis. In the case of Metropolis, this approach does not mean adding a fourth domain of culture to the dominant
triple bottom line The triple bottom line (or otherwise noted as TBL or 3BL) is an accounting Accounting or Accountancy is the measurement, processing, and communication of financial and non financial information about economic entity, economic entities such as b ...
figure of the economy, environment and the social. Rather, it involves treating all four domains—economy, ecology, politics, and culture—as social (including economics) and distinguishing between ecology (as the intersection of the human and natural worlds) and the environment as that which goes far beyond what we as humans can ever know. Another model suggests humans' attempt to achieve all of their needs and aspirations via seven modalities: economy, community, occupational groups, government, environment, culture, and physiology. From the global to the individual human scale, each of the seven modalities can be viewed across seven hierarchical levels. Human sustainability can be achieved by attaining sustainability in all levels of the seven modalities.


Strong and weak sustainability

An alternative way of thinking is to distinguish between what has been called weak and strong sustainability. The former refers to environmental resources that can be replaced or substituted for, such as fossil fuels, many minerals, forests and polluted air. The latter refers to resources that once lost cannot be recovered or repaired within a reasonable timescale, such as biodiversity, soils or climate. Different policies and strategies are needed for the two types. Also, with regards to the economic dimension of sustainability, this can be understood by making a distinction between weak versus strong sustainability.Robert U. Ayres & Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh & John M. Gowdy, 1998.
Viewpoint: Weak versus Strong Sustainability
" Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 98-103/3, Tinbergen Institute.
In the former, loss of natural resources is compensated by an increase in human capital. Strong sustainability applies where human and natural capital are complementary, but not interchangeable. Thus, the problem of deforestation in England due to demand for wood in shipbuilding and for charcoal in iron-making was solved when ships came to be built of steel and coke replaced charcoal in iron-making – an example of weak sustainability. Prevention of biodiversity loss, which is an existential threat, is an example of the strong type. What is weak and what is strong depends partially on technology and partially on one’s convictions.Robert U. Ayres & Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh & John M. Gowdy, 1998.

" Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 98-103/3, Tinbergen Institute.


Related concepts


Planetary boundaries

In 2009 a group of scientists led by Johan Rockström from the
Stockholm Resilience Centre The Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC), is a research centre on resilience and sustainability science at Stockholm University. It is a joint initiative between Stockholm University and the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics at the Royal S ...
and
Will Steffen Will Steffen (born 1947) is an American chemist A chemist (from Greek ''chēm(ía)'' alchemy; replacing ''chymist'' from Medieval Latin ''alchemist'') is a scientist A scientist is a person who conducts Scientific method, scientific resea ...
from the
Australian National University The Australian National University (ANU) is a national research university located in Canberra Canberra ( ) is the capital city of Australia. Founded following the Federation of Australia, federation of the colonies of Australia as t ...
described nine
planetary boundaries Planetary boundaries is a concept involving Earth system processes that contain environmental boundaries. It was proposed in 2009 by a group of Earth system and environmental scientists Environmental science is an interdisciplinary ...

planetary boundaries
. Transgressing even one of them can be dangerous to sustainability. Those boundaries are
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 ...
,
biodiversity loss Biodiversity loss includes the extinction Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that functions as an individual entity. All organisms are composed of cells ...
(changed in 2015 to "change in biosphere integrity"),
biogeochemical Biogeochemistry is the Branches of science, scientific discipline that involves the study of the chemistry, chemical, physics, physical, geology, geological, and biology, biological processes and reactions that govern the composition of the natural ...
(nitrogen and phosphorus),
ocean acidification Ocean acidification is the ongoing decrease in the pH value of the Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of cont ...
,
land use Land use involves the management and modification of 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, artifi ...
,
freshwater Fresh water or freshwater is any naturally occurring liquid or frozen water Water (chemical formula H2O) is an , transparent, tasteless, odorless, and , which is the main constituent of 's and the s of all known living organisms (in ...

freshwater
,
ozone depletion Ozone depletion consists of two related events observed since the late 1970s: a steady lowering of about four percent in the total amount of ozone in Earth, Earth's atmosphere (the ozone layer), and a much larger springtime decrease in stratosphe ...

ozone depletion
, , (changed in 2015 to "Introduction of novel entities").


Ecological footprint and carrying capacity

The
ecological footprint The ecological footprint is a method promoted by the Global Footprint Network Global Footprint Network, founded in 2003, is an independent think tank A think tank, or policy institute, is a research institute A research institute, research ce ...
measures human consumption in terms of the biologically productive land and sea area needed to provide for all the competing demands on nature, including the provision of food, fiber, the accommodation of urban infrastructure and the absorption of waste, including carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuel. In 2019, it required on average 2.8 global hectares per person worldwide, 75% more than the biological capacity of 1.6 global hectares available on this planet per person (this space includes the space needed for wild species).Global Footprint Network
or see also World Wide Fund for Nature (2018) ''Living Planet Report 2018''. Retrieved on: 1 October 2019.
The resulting
ecological deficit Ecological debt refers to the accumulated debt Debt is an obligation that requires one party, the debtor, to pay money or other agreed-upon value to another party, the creditor. Debt is a deferred payment, or series of payments, which differ ...
must be met from unsustainable ''extra'' sources and these are obtained in three ways: embedded in the goods and services of world trade; taken from the past (e.g.
fossil fuels A fossil fuel is a hydrocarbon In organic chemistry Organic chemistry is a branch of chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and ...
); or borrowed from the future as unsustainable resource usage (e.g. by
forests A forest is an area of land dominated by trees. Hundreds of definitions of forest are used throughout the world, incorporating factors such as tree density, tree height, land use, legal standing and ecological function. The Food and Agricult ...
and
fisheries Fishery is the enterprise of raising or harvesting fish and other aquatic life. Commercial fisheries include wild fisheries and Fish farming, fish farms, both in fresh water (about 10% of all catch) and the oceans (about 90%). About 500 million pe ...
).


Sustainable development


Dimensions of sustainability


Environmental dimension


Environmental management

At the global scale and in the broadest sense environmental management involves the
ocean The ocean (also the sea The sea, connected as the world ocean or simply the ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of salt water which covers approximately 71% of the surface of the Earth.
s,
freshwater Fresh water or freshwater is any naturally occurring liquid or frozen water Water (chemical formula H2O) is an , transparent, tasteless, odorless, and , which is the main constituent of 's and the s of all known living organisms (in ...
systems, land and
atmosphere An atmosphere (from the greek words ἀτμός ''(atmos)'', meaning 'vapour', and σφαῖρα ''(sphaira)'', meaning 'ball' or 'sphere') is a layer or a set of layers of gases surrounding a planet or other material body, that is held in ...

atmosphere
. Following the sustainability principle of scale, it can be equally applied to any ecosystem from a tropical rainforest to a home garden. Healthy ecosystems provide vital goods and services to humans and other organisms. The ''
Millennium Ecosystem Assessment The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) is a major assessment of the human impact on the environment, called for by the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2000, launched in 2001 and published in 2005 with more than $14 million of gra ...
'' from 2005 measured 24 ecosystem services and concludes that only four have shown improvement over the last 50 years, 15 are in serious decline, and five are in a precarious condition.There are two major ways of reducing negative human impact and enhancing
ecosystem services Ecosystem services are the many and varied benefits to humans provided by the natural environment and from healthy ecosystems An ecosystem (or ecological system) consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which the ...
and the first of these is
environmental management Environmental resource management is the management Management (or managing) is the administration of an organization An organization, or organisation (English in the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth English; American and Briti ...
. This direct approach is based largely on information gained from
earth science Earth science or geoscience includes all fields of natural science Natural science is a branch of science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and Ta ...
,
environmental science Environmental science is an interdisciplinary Interdisciplinarity or interdisciplinary studies involves the combination of two or more academic disciplines into one activity (e.g., a research project). It draws knowledge from several oth ...
and
conservation biology Conservation biology is the study of the conservation of nature and of Earth's biodiversity with the aim of protecting species, their habitats, and ecosystems from excessive rates of extinction and the erosion of biotic interactions. It is an int ...
. However, this is management at the end of a long series of indirect causal factors that are initiated by human
consumption Consumption may refer to: *Resource consumption *Tuberculosis, an infectious disease, historically in biology: * Consumption (ecology), receipt of energy by consuming other organisms in social sciences: * Consumption (economics), the purchasing of ...
, so a second approach is through demand management of human resource use. Management of human consumption of resources is an indirect approach based largely on information gained from
economics Economics () is a social science that studies the Production (economics), production, distribution (economics), distribution, and Consumption (economics), consumption of goods and services. Economics focuses on the behaviour and interact ...

economics
. Three broad criteria for ecological sustainability were describe in 1990: renewable resources should provide a
sustainable yield The sustainable yield of 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 n ...
(the rate of harvest should not exceed the rate of regeneration); for non-renewable resources there should be equivalent development of renewable substitutes; waste generation should not exceed the assimilative capacity of the environment. According to the Brundtland report, "
poverty Poverty is the state of having little material possessions or income In microeconomics, income is the Consumption (economics), consumption and saving opportunity gained by an entity within a specified timeframe, which is generally expresse ...

poverty
is a major cause and effect of global environmental problems. It is therefore futile to attempt to deal with environmental problems without a broader perspective that encompasses the factors underlying world poverty and international inequality."


Ecological resilience

Ecological resilience In ecology, resilience is the capacity of an ecosystem to respond to a perturbation or disturbance by resisting damage and recovering quickly. Such perturbations and disturbances can include stochastic Stochastic () refers to the property o ...
is the capacity of an ecosystem to absorb disturbance and still retain its basic structure and viability. Resilience-thinking evolved from the need to manage interactions between human-constructed systems and natural ecosystems sustainably, even though to
policymaker A policy is a deliberate system of principle A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law, it is a rule Rule or ruling may refer to: Human activity * The exercise of political or personal co ...
s, a definition remains elusive. Resilience-thinking addresses how much planetary ecological systems can withstand assaults from human disturbances and still deliver the service's current and future generations need from them. It is also concerned with commitment from
geopolitical Geopolitics (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 approxi ...

geopolitical
policymakers to promote and manage essential planetary ecological resources to promote resilience and achieve sustainability of these essential resources for the benefit of future generations of life.


Land use changes, agriculture and food

Alterations in the relative proportions of land dedicated to
urbanization Urbanization (or urbanisation) refers to the population shift from rural File:Rural landscape in Finland.jpg, A rural landscape in Lappeenranta, South Karelia, Finland. 15 July 2000. In general, a rural area or a countryside is a geographi ...
,
agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise trends, Increases in sedentary behaviors su ...

agriculture
,
forest A forest is an area of land dominated by tree In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated Plant stem, stem, or trunk (botany), trunk, supporting branches and leaves in most species. In some usages, the definition of a ...

forest
,
woodland A woodland () is, in the broad sense, land covered with trees, or in a narrow sense, synonymous with wood (or in the U.S., the ''plurale tantum A ''plurale tantum'' (Latin for "plural only"; ) is a noun that appears only in the plural The plu ...

woodland
,
grassland Grasslands are areas where the vegetation Vegetation is an assemblage of species and the they provide. It is a general term, without specific reference to particular , life forms, structure, extent, or any other specific or geographic ...

grassland
and
pasture Pasture (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in ...

pasture
have a marked effect on the global water, carbon and nitrogen biogeochemical cycles and this can impact negatively on both natural and human systems. At the local human scale, major sustainability benefits accrue from sustainable parks and gardens and green cities. Feeding almost eight billion human bodies takes a heavy toll on the Earth's resources. This begins with the appropriation of about 38% of the Earth's land surface and about 20% of its net primary productivity. Added to this are the resource-hungry activities of industrial agribusiness—everything from the crop need for irrigation water, synthetic
fertilizer A fertilizer (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Currently, American E ...

fertilizer
s and
pesticide Pesticides are substances that are meant to control pests Pest or The Pest may refer to: Science and medicine * Pest (organism), an animal or plant detrimental to humans or human concerns ** Weed, a plant considered undesirable * Infectious d ...
s to the resource costs of food packaging, transport (now a major part of global trade) and retail. Environmental problems associated with
industrial agriculture Industrial agriculture is a form of modern farming Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domest ...
and
agribusiness Agribusiness is the business of agricultural production which involves the production, protection, sales and marketing of the product to satisfy the customers need. The term is a portmanteau A portmanteau (, ) or portmanteau word (from "portma ...
are now being addressed through such movements as sustainable agriculture,
organic farming Organic farming is an agricultural system that uses fertilizers of organic origin such as compost manure Animal manure is often a mixture of animal feces and bedding straw, as in this example from a stable.">stable.html" ;"title="feces and ...
and more sustainable business practices. The most cost-effective mitigation options include afforestation, sustainable forest management, and reducing deforestation. The environmental effects of different dietary patterns depend on many factors, including the proportion of animal and plant foods consumed and the method of food production. At the global level the environmental impact of agribusiness is being addressed through
sustainable agriculture Sustainable agriculture is farming Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise tren ...

sustainable agriculture
and
organic farming Organic farming is an agricultural system that uses fertilizers of organic origin such as compost manure Animal manure is often a mixture of animal feces and bedding straw, as in this example from a stable.">stable.html" ;"title="feces and ...
. At the local level there are various movements working towards
sustainable food systemsA sustainable food system is a type of food system that provides healthy food to people and creates sustainable environmental, economic and social systems that surround food. Sustainable food systems start with the development of sustainable agric ...
which may include
local food Local food is food that is produced within a short distance of where it is consumed, often accompanied by a social structure and supply chain different from the large-scale supermarket system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting ...

local food
production,
slow food Slow Food is an organization that promotes local food and traditional cooking. It was founded by Carlo Petrini in Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting ...
,
sustainable gardening Sustainable gardening includes the more specific sustainable landscapes, sustainable landscape design, sustainable landscaping, sustainable landscape architecture, resulting in sustainable sites. It comprises a disparate group of horticultural H ...
, and
organic gardening Organic horticulture is the science and art of growing fruits, vegetables, flowers, or ornamental plants by following the essential principles of organic agriculture in soil building and conservation, pest management, and heirloom variety preserv ...
.


Materials and waste

As global population and affluence have increased, so has the use of various materials increased in volume, diversity, and distance transported. Included here are raw materials, minerals, synthetic chemicals (including
hazardous substances The pictogram for poisonous substances of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals. Dangerous goods, abbreviated DG, are substances that when transported are a risk to health, safety, property or the envir ...
), manufactured products, food, living organisms, and waste.Bournay, E. ''et al.''. (2006)
''Vital waste graphics 2''
The Basel Convention, UNEP, GRID-Arendal. .
By 2050, humanity could consume an estimated 140 billion tons of minerals, ores, fossil fuels and biomass per year (three times its current amount) unless the economic growth rate is decoupled from the rate of natural
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 ...
. Developed countries' citizens consume an average of 16 tons of those four key resources per capita per year, ranging up to 40 or more tons per person in some developed countries with resource consumption levels far beyond what is likely sustainable. By comparison, the average person in India today consumes four tons per year. Sustainable use of materials has targeted the idea of dematerialization, converting the linear path of materials (extraction, use, disposal in landfill) to a circular material flow that reuses materials as much as possible, much like the cycling and reuse of waste in nature. Dematerialization is being encouraged through the ideas of
industrial ecology Industrial ecology (IE) is the study of material and energy flows through industrial systems. The global Global means of or referring to a globe A globe is a spherical physical model, model of Earth, of some other astronomical object, celes ...
, eco design and
ecolabelling Eco-labels and Green Stickers are labeling systems for food and consumer products. Ecolabels are voluntary, but green stickers are mandated by law; for example, in North America major appliances and automobiles use Energy Star. They are a form of ...
. The use of sustainable biomaterials that come from renewable sources and that can be recycled is preferred to the use on non-renewables from a life cycle standpoint. This way of thinking is expressed in the concept of
circular economy A circular economy (also referred to as "circularity" and "CE") is "a model of Production (economics), production and Resource consumption, consumption, which involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing mat ...
, which employs
reuse Reuse is the action or practice of using an item, whether for its original purpose (conventional reuse) or to fulfill a different function (creative reuse Upcycling, also known as creative reuse, is the process of transforming by-products, waste ...

reuse
,
sharing Sharing is the joint use of a resource or space. It is also the process of dividing and distributing. In its narrow sense, it refers to joint or alternating use of inherently finite goods, such as a common pasture Pasture (from the Latin ...
, repair, refurbishment,
remanufacturing Remanufacturing is "the rebuilding of a product to specifications of the original manufactured product using a combination of reused, repaired and new parts". It requires the repair or replacement of worn out or obsolete components and modules. Pa ...
and
recycling Recycling is the process of converting waste Waste (or wastes) are unwanted or unusable materials. Waste is any substance which is discarded after primary use, or is worthless, defective and of no use. A by-product A by-product or ...

recycling
to create a closed-loop system, minimizing the use of resource inputs and the creation of
waste Waste (or wastes) are unwanted or unusable materials. Waste is any substance which is discarded after primary use, or is worthless, defective and of no use. A by-product A by-product or byproduct is a secondary product derived from a produ ...
, pollution and carbon emissions. The
European Commission The European Commission (EC) is the executive branch The executive is the branch of government exercising authority in and holding Moral responsibility, responsibility for the governance of a State (polity), state. The executive executes a ...

European Commission
has adopted an ambitious Circular Economy Action Plan in 2020, which aims at making sustainable products the norm in the EU.


Economic dimension

On one account, sustainability "concerns the specification of a set of actions to be taken by present persons that will not diminish the prospects of future persons to enjoy levels of consumption, wealth, utility, or welfare comparable to those enjoyed by present persons." Bromley, Daniel W. (2008). "sustainability," ''The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics'', 2nd Edition
Abstract.
/ref> Thus, sustainability economics means taking a long-term view of human welfare. One way of doing this is by considering the social discount rate, i.e. the rate by which future costs and benefits should be discounted when making decisions about the future. The more one is concerned about future generations, the lower the social discount rate should be. Another method is to quantify the services that ecosystems provide to humankind and put an economic value on them, so that environmental damage may be assessed against perceived short-term welfare benefits. For instance, according to the
World Economic Forum The World Economic Forum (WEF) is an international non-governmental organization, international non-governmental and Lobbying organization, lobbying organisation based in Cologny, canton of Geneva, Switzerland. It was founded on 24 January 197 ...

World Economic Forum
, half of the global
GDP Gross domestic product (GDP) is a monetary Image:National-Debt-Gillray.jpeg, In a 1786 James Gillray caricature, the plentiful money bags handed to King George III are contrasted with the beggar whose legs and arms were amputated, in the ...
is strongly or moderately dependent on nature. Also, for every dollar spent on nature restoration there is a profit of at least 9 dollars. The study of these
ecosystem services Ecosystem services are the many and varied benefits to humans provided by the natural environment and from healthy ecosystems An ecosystem (or ecological system) consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which the ...
is an important branch of
ecological economics Ecological economics, bioeconomics, ecolonomy, eco-economics, or ecol-econ is both a transdisciplinary Transdisciplinarity connotes a research strategy that crosses many disciplinary boundaries to create a holistic Holism (from Greek Greek m ...
. A major problem in sustainability is that many environmental and social costs are not borne by the entity that causes them, and are therefore not expressed in the market price. In economics this is known as
externalities In economics Economics () is the social science that studies how people interact with value; in particular, the Production (economics), production, distribution (economics), distribution, and Consumption (economics), consumption of goods ...

externalities
, in this case negative externalities. They can be solved by government intervention: either by taxing the activity (the polluter pays), by subsidizing activities that have a positive environmental or social effect (rewarding stewardship), or by outlawing the practice (legal limits on pollution, for instance). In recent years, the concept of has been developed by the British economist to integrate social and environmental sustainability into economic thinking. The social dimension is here portrayed as a minimum standard to which a society should aspire, whereas an outer limit is imposed by the carrying capacity of the planet.


Decoupling environmental degradation and economic growth


Economic opportunity

Sustainable business A sustainable business, or a green business, is an enterprise that has minimal negative impact or potentially a positive effect on the global or local environment, community, society, or economy—a business that strives to meet the triple bottom l ...
practices integrate ecological concerns with social and economic ones (i.e., the
triple bottom line The triple bottom line (or otherwise noted as TBL or 3BL) is an accounting Accounting or Accountancy is the measurement, processing, and communication of financial and non financial information about economic entity, economic entities such as b ...
). The idea of sustainability as a business opportunity has led to the formation of organizations such as the Sustainability Consortium of the
Society for Organizational Learning The Society for Organizational Learning (SoL) is an American organization founded in 1997 by Peter Senge Peter Michael Senge (born 1947) is an American systems scientist who is a senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management, co-faculty ...
, the Sustainable Business Institute, and the World Council for Sustainable Development. The expansion of sustainable business opportunities can contribute to
job creation Unemployment, according to the OECD The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD; french: Organisation de Coopération et de Développement Économiques, OCDE) is an intergovernmental organization, intergovernmental eco ...
through the introduction of green-collar workers. The concept of "embedded sustainability" is defined as "incorporation of environmental, health, and social value into the core business with no trade-off in price or quality—in other words, with no social or green premium." Embedded sustainability offers at least seven distinct opportunities for business value creation: better risk-management, increased efficiency through reduced waste and resource use, better product differentiation, new market entrances, enhanced brand and reputation, greater opportunity to influence industry standards, and greater opportunity for radical innovation.


Social dimension

Broad-based strategies for more sustainable social systems include: improved education and the political empowerment of women, especially in developing countries; greater regard for social justice, notably equity between rich and poor both within and between countries; and, perhaps most of all, intergenerational equity.Cohen, J.E. (2006). "Human Population: The Next Half Century." In Kennedy D. (Ed.) ''Science Magazine's State of the Planet 2006-7''. London: Island Press, pp. 13–21. . After all, to be sustained means to outlast the present.


Cultural dimension


Health and wellbeing

The World Health Organization recognizes that achieving sustainability is impossible without addressing health issues. There is a rise in some interconnected health and sustainability problems, for example, in food production. Measures for achieving environmental sustainability can in many cases also improve health. For better measuring the well-being, the New Economics Foundation's has launched the Happy Planet Index. In the beginning of the 21st century, more than 100 organizations created the Wellbeing Economy Alliance with the aim to create an economy that will guarantee well-being and heal nature at the same time.


Barriers to sustainability

There are at least three letters from the scientific community about the growing threat to sustainability and ways to remove the threat. * In 1992, scientists wrote the first World Scientists' Warning to Humanity, which begins: "Human beings and the natural world are on a collision course." About 1,700 of the world's leading scientists, including most Nobel Prize laureates in the sciences, signed it. The letter mentions severe damage to atmosphere, oceans, ecosystems, soil productivity, and more. It warns humanity that life on earth as we know it can become impossible, and if humanity wants to prevent the damage, some steps need to be taken: better use of Resource sustainability, resources, abandon of
fossil fuels A fossil fuel is a hydrocarbon In organic chemistry Organic chemistry is a branch of chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and ...
, stabilization of human population, elimination of
poverty Poverty is the state of having little material possessions or income In microeconomics, income is the Consumption (economics), consumption and saving opportunity gained by an entity within a specified timeframe, which is generally expresse ...

poverty
and more. * In 2017, the scientists wrote a second World Scientists' Warning to Humanity, warning to humanity. In this warning, the scientists mention some positive trends like slowing deforestation, but despite this, they claim that except
ozone depletion Ozone depletion consists of two related events observed since the late 1970s: a steady lowering of about four percent in the total amount of ozone in Earth, Earth's atmosphere (the ozone layer), and a much larger springtime decrease in stratosphe ...

ozone depletion
, none of the problems mentioned in the first warning received an adequate response. The scientists called to reduce the use of
fossil fuels A fossil fuel is a hydrocarbon In organic chemistry Organic chemistry is a branch of chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and ...
, meat, and other resources and to stabilize the population. It was signed by 15,364 scientists from 184 countries, making it the letter with the most scientist signatures in history. * In November 2019, more than 11,000 scientists from 153 countries published a letter in which they warn about serious threats to sustainability from
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 ...
unless big changes in policies happen. The scientists declared "climate emergency" and called to stop
overconsumption Overconsumption describes a situation where the use of a natural resource has exceeded the Sustainable yield, sustainable capacity of a system. A prolonged pattern of overconsumption leads to the eventual loss of resource bases. The term overconsu ...
, move away from
fossil fuels A fossil fuel is a hydrocarbon In organic chemistry Organic chemistry is a branch of chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and ...
, eat less meat, Population stabilisation, stabilize the population, and more. Similarly, in 2005, 12 main problems were described that can be dangerous to sustainability: Deforestation and habitat destruction, soil problems (erosion, Soil salinity, salinization, and soil fertility losses), water management problems, overhunting, overfishing, effects of introduced species on native species, Human overpopulation, overpopulation, Increased per-capita impact of people, Anthropogenic climate change, climate change, Buildup of toxins in the environment, energy crisis, energy shortages, full human use of the Earth's photosynthetic capacity. In 2021 the United Nations Environment Programme issued a report describing three major environmental threats to sustainability:
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 ...
,
biodiversity loss Biodiversity loss includes the extinction Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that functions as an individual entity. All organisms are composed of cells ...
and pollution. The report states that as of the year 2021 humanity fails to properly address the main environmental challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic is also linked to environmental issues, including climate change, deforestation and wildlife trade.


Pathways to achieving more sustainability


Scales

Sustainability is studied and managed over many scales (levels or frames of reference) of time and space and in many contexts of environmental, social, and economic organizations. The focus ranges from the total carrying capacity (sustainability) of planet Earth to the sustainability of economic sectors, ecosystems, countries, municipalities, neighborhoods, home gardens, individual lives, individual goods and services, occupations, lifestyles, and behavior patterns. Since the overarching theme of sustainability includes the prudent use of resources to meet current needs without affecting the ability of the future generation from meeting their needs, sustainability can entail the full compass of biological and human activity or any part of it.


Modifying affluence, population and technology

One attempt to express human impact mathematically was developed in the 1970s and is called the I = PAT formula. This formulation attempts to explain human consumption in terms of three components: population numbers, levels of Consumption (economics), consumption (which it terms "affluence", although the usage is different), and impact per unit of resource use (which is termed "technology", because this impact depends on the
technology Technology ("science of craft", 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. I ...

technology
used). The equation is expressed: :::::::: I = P × A × T ::: Where: I = Environmental impact, P = Population, A = Affluence, T = Technology Strategies for reaching sustainability can generally be divided into three categories. Most governments and international organizations that aim to achieve sustainability employ all three approaches, though they may disagree on which deserves priority. Affluence: Many believe that sustainability cannot be achieved without reducing Consumption (economics), consumption. This theory is represented most clearly in the idea of a steady-state economy, meaning an economy without growth. Methods in this category include, among others, the phase-out of lightweight plastic bags, promoting biking, and increasing energy conversion efficiency, energy efficiency. For example, according to the report "Plastic and Climate", plastic-production greenhouse gas emissions can be as much as 15% of earth's remaining carbon budget by 2050 and over 50% by 2100, except the impacts on phytoplankton. The report says that for solving the problem, Consumption (economics), reduction in consumption will be essential. In 2020, scientific research published by the
World Economic Forum The World Economic Forum (WEF) is an international non-governmental organization, international non-governmental and Lobbying organization, lobbying organisation based in Cologny, canton of Geneva, Switzerland. It was founded on 24 January 197 ...

World Economic Forum
determined that affluence is the biggest threat to sustainability. Population: Others think that the most effective means of achieving sustainability is population control, for example by improving access to birth control and education (particularly education for girls). Fertility rates are known to decline with increased prosperity, and have been declining globally since 1980. Technology: Still others hold that the most promising path to sustainability is new technology. This theory may be seen as a form of technological optimism. One popular tactic in this category is transitioning to renewable energy. Others methods to achieve sustainability, associated with this theory are Climate engineering, climate engineering (geo – engineering), Genetic engineering, genetic engineering (GMO, Genetically modified organism), Decoupling Natural Resource Use and Environmental Impacts from Economic Growth report, decoupling.


Management of human consumption and impacts

The environmental impact of a community or humankind as a whole depends both on population and impact per person, which in turn depends in complex ways on what resources are being used, whether or not those resources are renewable, and the scale of the human activity relative to the carrying capacity of the ecosystems involved. Careful resource management can be applied at many scales, from economic sectors like agriculture, manufacturing and industry, to work organizations, the consumption patterns of households and individuals, and the resource demands of individual goods and services.Brower, M. & Leon, W. (1999). ''The Consumer's Guide to Effective Environmental Choices: Practical Advice from the Union of Concerned Scientists''. New York: Three Rivers Press. . The underlying driver of direct human impacts on the environment is human consumption.Michaelis, L. & Lorek, S. (2004)
"Consumption and the Environment in Europe: Trends and Futures."
Danish Environmental Protection Agency. Environmental Project No. 904.
This impact is reduced by not only consuming less but also making the full cycle of production, use, and disposal more sustainable. Consumption of goods and services can be analyzed and managed at all scales through the chain of consumption, starting with the effects of individual lifestyle choices and spending patterns, through to the resource demands of specific goods and services, the impacts of economic sectors, through national economies to the global economy. Analysis of consumption patterns relates resource use to the environmental, social and economic impacts at the scale or context under investigation. The ideas of embodied resource use (the total resources needed to produce a product or service), resource intensity, and resource productivity are important tools for understanding the impacts of consumption. Key resource categories relating to human needs are food, energy, raw materials and water. In 2010, the International Resource Panel published the first global scientific assessment on the impacts of consumption and production. The study found that the most critical impacts are related to ecosystem health, human health and resource depletion. From a production perspective, it found that fossil-fuel combustion processes, agriculture and fisheries have the most important impacts. Meanwhile, from a final
consumption Consumption may refer to: *Resource consumption *Tuberculosis, an infectious disease, historically in biology: * Consumption (ecology), receipt of energy by consuming other organisms in social sciences: * Consumption (economics), the purchasing of ...
perspective, it found that household consumption related to mobility, shelter, food, and energy-using products causes the majority of life cycle assessment, life-cycle impacts of consumption. According to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, human consumption, with current policy, by the year 2100 will be seven times bigger than in the year 2010.


Biodiversity and ecosystem services

In 2019, a summary for policymakers of the Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, largest, most comprehensive study to date of biodiversity and
ecosystem services Ecosystem services are the many and varied benefits to humans provided by the natural environment and from healthy ecosystems An ecosystem (or ecological system) consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which the ...
was published by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. It recommended that human civilization will need a transformative change, including
sustainable agriculture Sustainable agriculture is farming Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise tren ...

sustainable agriculture
, reductions in Consumption (economics), consumption and waste, fishing quotas and collaborative water management.


Approaches of different stakeholders


Religious communities

Within the context of Christianity, in the encyclical "Laudato si'", Pope Francis called to fight
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 ecological degradation as a whole. He claimed that humanity is facing a severe ecological crisis and blamed consumerism and irresponsible development. The encyclical is addressed to "every person living on this planet." Buddhism includes many principles linked to sustainability. The Dalai Lama has consistently called for strong climate action, reforestation, preserving ecosystems, a reduction in meat consumption. He declared that if he will ever join a political party it will be the green party and if Buddha returned to our world now: “Buddha would be green.” The leaders of Buddhism issued a special declaration calling on all believers to fight climate change and environmental destruction as a whole.


Measurement


See also

* European environmental research and innovation policy - agenda to greening the economy and the society as a whole so to make them sustainable * List of sustainability topics * Outline of sustainability *Sustainable development goals *Sustainability (journal)


By sector

:Energy: ::Sustainable energy :Agriculture: ::Sustainable agriculture ::Sustainable gardening :Land use planning: ::Ecosystem management ::Ecosystem-based management ::Ecosystem services ::Nature conservation :Human activities and transportation: ::Cultural sustainability ::
Sustainable living Sustainable living describes a that attempts to reduce an individual's or 's use of the Earth's , and one's personal resources.Ainoa, J., Kaskela, A., Lahti, L., Saarikoski, N., Sivunen, A., Storgårds, J., & Zhang, H. (2009). Future of Living. I ...
::Sustainable population ::Sustainable tourism ::Sustainable transport ::Water footprint ::Water scarcity :Economy: ::Steady-state economy ::Sustainable development ::Degrowth ::Anti-consumerism ::Circular economy :Urban planning, buildings: ::Sustainable urban planning ::Sustainable cities ::Greening


References

* {{Authority control Sustainability, Environmentalism Economics of sustainability Environmental social science concepts Environmental terminology