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What does “sustainable” actually mean?




Photo: CTHOE [CC-BY-SA-3.0], Wikimedia Commons

The dictionary defines the adjective “sustainable” as “that can be supported for a long period”. Three meanings are given for “sustainability”:

–          The original meaning of capable of being sustained

–          The extended meaning of the agricultural principle that a resource is harvested in such a way that it is not depleted or permanently damaged

–          The modern, broader definition of the principle that we should use all resources in a sustainable manner – i.e. only using as much as can be regrown or regenerated in the short to medium term

As one of the most commonly used definition of sustainability applies the definition of sustainable development of the Brundtland Report of the United Nations from 1987:„Sustainable development meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”