What is sustainability? Why is sustainability important? How can we be sustainable? These are some of various questions that come up one’s mind these days. Let us discuss sustainability in simple terms and what it means.
Sustainability is derived from the Latin word sustinere meaning “to hold up”. English dictionaries define sustain as “support”, “maintain” or “endure”. There are various definitions of sustainability depending on the context. For the past three decades, sustainability has come to be used more in reference to human sustainability on planet earth. Hence, the most broadly accepted definition of sustainability is:
“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” (Brundtald Commission, 1987)
Sustainability refers to three broad themes that must be coordinated and addressed to ensure the long-term viability of our community and the planet:
A sustainable organization seeks to balance economy, society and environment within its operations. Through seeking balance, an organization may better extract natural and economic resources taking into account the needs of future generations.
Economic: We must preserve all our resources as we consume them so that future generations can enjoy them as well. To achieve this, we must regenerate our resources at a rate that is equal to or faster than our consumption.
Social: Sustainability can be achieved through proper maintenance of and adherence to laws, rules, and values that societies have developed for the common good.
Environmental: Materials taken from nature are used for solutions that address human needs. If nature is depleted faster than it can regenerate, human beings will be left without raw materials.
Sustainability is important because all the choices we pursue and all the actions that we make today will affect everything in the future. We need to make sound decisions at present in order to avoid limiting the choices of generations to come.
Let us know what sustainability means to you? and why you think it is important for your business?