What is Sustainability?
When discussing sustainability and sustainable development we get an array of opinions. There’s positive responses and negative responses. However, one thing that’s apparent is the need for clarity about what exactly is sustainability? (and why should we care?)
For most people, sustainability is about the environment, the planet, and maintaining a stable, relatively predictable weather system. Sustainable development is about creating infrastructure while making as little impact on the environment as possible.
While very important, and vital to sustainability, the environment is a third of what makes up the sustainabile model.
The factors that make up overall sustainability are:
What do these segments mean?
Social Sustainability is the ability of a society to function as a whole, with high levels of wellbeing, and opportunities for all. This is typically measured by low (zero) endemic/ cultural poverty, high levels of education, and low levels of war/ inter-cultural fighting.
Economic Sustainability is the ability to maintain a stable level of production indefinitely. This is measured by having a low level of recessions and constant growth.
Environmental Sustainability is the ability to utilise natural resources indefinitely while not impacting environmental quality. This is measured by using 100% renewable resources in production and having low pollution levels.
To achieve true sustainability as a society, all three factors have to be met.
At times society, and political parties in particular, get caught up on focusing on one aspect. The closest we get to striving for true sustainability is when a party occasionally fights for both Environmental and Social Sustainability, and even then, they typically lean more towards one than the other.
We need to focus on all three aspects if we are to progress as a society and continue any form of affluence for our future generations.