Definition of Sustainability

Sustainability is the ability to maintain a certain status or process in existing systems. The most frequent use of the term “sustainability” is connected to biological or human systems in the context of ecology. The ability of an ecosystem to function and maintain productivity for a prolonged period is also sustainability.

Living a sustainable lifestyle is one way to help. In this series pages we will go into what sustainability has to with ecology, recycling, water, and more. We will also reveal what some companies (like Petsmart and Disney) are doing to make a difference by operating their businesses in a sustainable way.

Definition of Sustainability / Keeping an Eye on the Present and the Future

The World Commission on Environment and Development published a report in 1987 in which the definition of sustainability known as the “Brundtland Definition” is included. This is the most internationally accepted definition and affirms that sustainability means “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” (EPA’s Region 10 Sustainability Web site provides more information on definitions and history of “Sustainability.”)

As applied to systems sustainability becomes an increasingly complex proposition. In the fields of agriculture and energy sources there can be a multitude of levels involved in the effort to make these sustainable. In the management of bio systems such as forests, wetlands, and prairies sustainability can include supervision, legislation, and even enforcement of regulations.

More and more scientific evidence is being gathered that humans and human society are using up natural resources at a rate that cannot be maintained. It is becoming plain that a huge and previously uncoordinated effort must be implemented into a concerted drive to control the rate of human consumption of natural resources. Humans must live in a sustainable manner and resources must be used only at a rate which can be replenished.

Taking Ownership As Creators

Taking care of our environment should be the first priority for all of human society. Our efforts toward sustainability should not only be for the present generation but for all the generations to come. Ideally this should be more than a desire on our part rather than an obligation. But sometimes just acting in ways that are regulated under law allows our consciousness to develop to the point where we are passionate about our path.

In the end we are all responsible for what shows up in our lives – the good and the bad. Because of this it is up to us to contribute what we can in our roles as citizens and consumers and ultimately as stewards of the environment.


Thank you for visiting the Definition of Sustainability page. For more information on sustainability follow these links:

Why is Sustainability Important

Sustainability Tips

Types of Sustainability

Recycling Sustainability

Green Sustainability

Natural Resource Sustainability

Living Sustainability

Ecology Sustainability

Sustainability Agroforestry

Water Movement Sustainability

Water Sustainability in Australia

More on Water Sustainability in Australia

Disney Sustainability

Petsmart Sustainability

Wisconsin Sustainability

What is Meant by Sustainability

Definition For Sustainability

Sustainability Questions

Sustainability Ideas

Improving Sustainable Agriculture

Return From Definition of Sustainability to the Benefits of Recycling home page.