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What is Sustainability?

The concept of Sustainability goes back around 30 years. It was first introduced in the Brundtland Report produced by several countries for the UN in 1987.

In the Charter of the UCLA Sustainability Committee, Sustainability is defined as:

 “The integration of environmental health, social equity, and economic vitality to create thriving, healthy, diverse, and resilient communities for this generation and generations to come. The practice of Sustainability recognizes how these issues are interconnected and require a systems approach and an acknowledgement of complexity.”

The primary notion of Sustainability is meeting our needs today without compromising the ability to fulfill the needs of our future generations. Sustainability not only focuses on the environment and natural resources but also considers economic and social realities. It believes that resources are limited and should be used conservatively and conscientiously to ensure adequacy for future generations without decreasing the present quality of life. A sustainable society is one individual who is socially responsible, focused on environmental protection, and instils a dynamic equilibrium in human and natural systems.

The term sustainability is widely used to represent and explain the changes and improvements related to natural resource depletion, pollution, over-production, capitalist lifestyle, overpopulation, and waste disposal. When the effects of these actions are significantly reduced and stop harming the environment, they can be deemed sustainable. There are hundreds of technological advancements that focus on sustainable development.

There are three pillars of Sustainability: Environmental, Economic, and Social. They are all interconnected and need to be taken into account to make any decision.

Environmental Sustainability: There is of utmost importance to maintaining ecosystems and natural habitats; no such activities are carried out that threaten the natural beings on Earth. Another primary factor is the utilization and distribution of natural resources; they should be consumed at a rate that could be replaced. Environmental Sustainability is concerned with reducing carbon footprints, water usage, etc. It revolves around Environmental Protection, Resource Management, and Habitat Restoration and Preservation.

Economic Sustainability: this focuses on making equitable and fiscally sound decisions while considering the other aspects of Sustainability. Instead of just focusing on profits, economic value is enhanced through long-term planning, smart growth, Research and Development investments, and cost savings.

Social Sustainability: This pillar focuses on Universal human rights and necessities that should be attainable by all families. They should be aware of the importance of education, health, and other public services. All world citizens should be given equal opportunity and be brought together in healthy communities.

Sustainability has many short-term and long-term benefits to every society. If we continue to make choices that cannot sustain our environment, we will be jeopardizing our Earth’s ecosystems. If harmful practices are carried on with no change in our habits, we will likely run out of fossil fuels, there will be a loss of biodiversity, and the atmosphere will be irretrievably damaged. Sustainable practices will result in Clean air and nontoxic atmospheric conditions, long-term growth of resources, good water quality, and cleanliness.

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