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What is Sustainability?

Updated: Sep 8, 2020

Let’s begin with the basics. What is sustainability exactly?


Many of us may think of it as simply focusing on the environment, however it is much more than that. The emergence of the term sustainability/sustainable really began to appear in the early 1970s.


Sustainability has grown to be defined as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.” Sustainability is known to be composed of three pillars: economic, environmental, and social.





Okay, but where did these pillars come from?


The origins of these three pillars is often attributed to the Brundtland Report, Agenda 21, and the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development. These pillars have been adopted in both the corporate and non-profit sectors, and it is widely recognized if any of the three pillars is weak, then this will jeopardize the whole system.


Why should we even care?


As I explained above, sustainability is not just about the environment. Sustainability is highly interconnected in our very way of life. It’s about our health as a society, ensuring that no people or life suffers as a result of environmental legislation. However, it’s also about examining the long term effects of actions humanity takes and figuring out ways it can be improved.


For decades, humans have taken from the earth without regard for the effect we are having on the planet. The world is telling us enough is enough through the form of climate change, and it’s time we listen.


As we move forward it’s important that we stay curious, always question, and try to help where we can. We hope this has helped you to learn more about what sustainability means, and has helped to spark a desire to help in your own way however you can!


Curious to learn more?


Throughout this article we have shared some awesome resources with you to begin your research into the world of sustainability.


Here are some other resources that will help you in your pursuit of answers:


McGill Sustainability


United Nations Digital Library


United Nations Sustainable Development Goals




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