Gran Rio Grijalva a Uyotot-Ja y Pantanos de Centla Biosfere Reserva, Mexico


español español





Sustainable Development / Local Agenda 21s / Leading for Sustainability

Professional Background / Publications / Presentations / Curriculum Vitae

Theory Explained

Practice from my Experience

Home > Sustainable Development

Sustainable Development

Sustainable development (SD) is each of a concept, approach and practice to help humans re-capture their understanding about the interconnectedness of life. This is an interconnectedness that science increasingly reveals exists among all things living in earth’s natural environment. Yet it is an interconnexion that humans demonstrate we have forgotten by the increasing damage which science tells us that our species is inflicting on our earthly home.

From our regained sense of interconnectedness, SD then helps humans understand how our species also needs, by necessity, to learn how to live with and among all other life forms that collectively share earth.

SD does this with humans of today, so that humans of tomorrow can be assured of continued, fair and even equitable access to earth’s resources. It also does this to ensure the continuation of the rich and vibrant biodiversity of life on earth: a biodiversity that is essential to human survival and which, along with humans, has taken millions of years to evolve.

Earth’s most prominent definition for sustainable development was created and popularised by the United Nations’ World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), also known as The Brundtland Commission in honour of its Chair, former Norwegian Prime Minister Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland. The WCED’s Final Report, released in 1987 and titled Our Common Future, offered this definition for SD:

Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

SOURCE: (1987). Our Common Future: From One Earth to One World - An Overview by the World Commission on Environment and Development: Section 1.3.27 The Global Challenge - Sustainable Development [online]. As available from: . [Accessed: 03 May 2008].

For the WCED, sustainable development contains three essential components, these being each of the: social, environmental and economic.

Please be certain: sustainable development is not an ecological or environmental concept and practice. While the earth’s natural environment is an integral and even necessary component of SD, it is not what sustainable development is solely about.

And please also be clear that sustainability and sustainable development are not one and the same thing.

For SD to be put in to practice, the social and economic factors of human society’s must also be given strong consideration alongside earth’s natural environment. You can certainly have some degrees of economic sustainability or social sustainability on their own, but it is only when the environmental, social and economic elements are considered together is SD itself then in play.

So what is the theory of sustainable development? Please read on for a brief overview on SD...

(For information on the practice of SD, see the Local Agenda 21s section of this web-site.)