Sustainable development

What is it and how does it relate to sustainability?

Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

WCED (1987). Our Common Future (PDF).

The main idea behind the concept of sustainable development is the recognition that our natural resources are limited and that all our current and future development depends on our ability to work within or overcome these constraints.

It also recognizes the fact that, if we deplete our natural resources or diminish their utility through pollution or otherwise, we affect our ability to grow in the future. Therefore, we should aim to maintain economic growth and progress only to the degree which maintains or improves the long-term value of the environment.

As such, sustainable development should provide a framework for the integration of environment policies, social policies and development strategies. Indeed, the key principle of sustainable development underlying all others is the integration of environmental, social, and economic concerns into all aspects of decision
making.

The overall goal of sustainable development is the long-term stability of the economy, society and environment.