When I tell people I have a degree in sustainability, I almost always hear the same response. Occasionally, I will get a, “Thank you,” but it’s usually a polite smile a long with a, “Oh that’s nice…What is sustainability again?”
The most common definition of sustainability comes from the United Nations: “Sustainability…meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
This concept (or ideal – depending on who you talk to), is not a new idea and can be applied to every area of life. That is why you hear terms like sustainable yield, sustainable agriculture, and sustainable forestry. People, business, countries…they are all trying to reach this goal because if they don’t, it could alter earth as we know it. In order to do this, everyone needs to focus on creating sustainable societies and sustainable development.
A sustainable society lives in balance with the natural world. It does not pollute more than the earth can absorb, nor does it overly deplete resources. Sustainable development is the continued improvement of human well-being. Everything needs to not only be socially desirable, but also economically feasible and ecologically viable. It is also imperative for the human race to stabilize its population. The earth cannot keep providing resources and absorbing our subsequent waste at this current rate. If we do not voluntarily transition to a more sustainable way of life, we will be forced to through famine, disease, and deprivation.
“To achieve sustainability will require a special level of dedication and commitment to care for the natural world and to act with justice and equity toward one another.”
– R.T. Wright & D. F. Boorse