Promote Sustainable Development - Sample Definitions...

What is Sustainable Development?

  1. Our Common Future, the Bruntland Report in 1987 said that sustainable development:

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

  2. The first to have a say was probably Thomas Jefferson in 1789:

    "Then I say the earth belongs to each generation during its course, fully and in its own right, no generation can contract debts greater than may be paid during its own existence".

  3. John Ruskin in 1849 said in The Seven Lamps of Architecture:

    "God has lent us the earth for our life; it is a great entail. It belongs as much to those who are to come after us, and whose names are already written in the book of creation, as to us; and we have no right, by anything that we do or neglect, to involve them in unnecessary penalties, or deprive them of benefits which it is in power to bequeath"

  4. Barbara Ward isthe person generally recognised as coining the phrase at the 1972 UN Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. When taking over the presidency of the International Institute for Environment and Development in 1973, she said that the original Institute name be changed to include the word "Development" - "without which the concept of preserving the environment has no real meaning for the poorer two thirds of mankind".

  5. Report of United Nations 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development: 'Poverty eradication, changing consumption and production patterns and protecting and managing the material resource base for economic and social objectives are overarching objectives of and essential requirements for sustainable development.'

  6. Charles Clarke, UK Secretary of State for Education 2003, in 'Action Plan for Sustainable Development in Education & Skills' said: "In this rapidly changing world of immediate demand and quick profit, we run the risk that we may lose sight of how our actions affect others - not just those we touch in our daily lives but also those further away. This to me is what sustainable development is all about "

  7. The Wuppeerthal Institute (1998) says:

    "The idea of sustainable development, although broad, loose, and tinged with ambiguity around its edges, turned out to be palatable to everybody. This may have been its greatest virtue. It is radical and yet not offensive".

  8. Spangenburg says that:

    "Sustainability as defined in Agenda 21 is a complex system of interacting targets in four dimensions: social, environmental, economic and institutional (in wider sense including preferences and habits). In the economic debate, these are as well known four types of capital (man-made, natural, human, and social capital), which all need to be served with investments from the surplus generated"

  9. Robert Gilman President of the Context Institute came up with:

    "Sustainability refers to the ability of a society, ecosystem, or any such ongoing system to continue functioning into the indefinite future without being forced into decline through exhaustion of key resources"

  10. Forum for the Future definition, 1996

    "Sustainable development is a dynamic process which enables all people to realise their potential and to improve their quality of life in ways that simultaneously protect and enhance the Earth's life support systems".

  11. Tony Blair said at the Second Environment Summit in New York in 1997

    "Our solemn duty as world leaders is to treasure the precious heritage and hand on to our children and grandchildren an environment that will enable them to enjoy the same full life we took for granted"

  12. UNISON Annual Conference Motion 1998 from Newcastle City.

    "The principles of sustainability and social justice lie at the heart of Local Agenda 21 and aim to ensure that the resources of the planet are shared more equally and used more responsibly by the present generation so as not damage the environment and to ensure its preservation for future generations"

  13. The Labour government said in 1999:

    "Sustainable development is a very simple idea. It is about ensuring a better quality of life for everyone, now and for generations to come. To achieve this, sustainable development is concerned with achieving economic growth, in the form of higher living standards, while protecting and where possible enhancing the environment - not just for its own sake but because a damaged environment will sooner or later hold back economic growth and lower the quality of life - and making sure that these economic and environmental benefits are available to everyone, not just to a privileged few."

  14. DEFRA

    "Sustainable development is about ensuring a better quality of life for everyone, now and for generations to come. It encompasses environmental, social and economic goals. It is about protecting and where possible enhancing the environment, not just for its own sake but because a damaged environment will sooner or later hold back economic development and lower the quality of life. It is about seeking to satisfy people's basic needs, such as providing warm homes and safe streets and giving people the opportunity to achieve their potential through education, information, participation and good health. And it requires a robust economy to create the wealth that allows needs to be satisfied, now and in the future".
    DETR Sustainable Local Communities for the 21st Century: Why and How to Prepare an Effective Local Agenda 21 Strategy

  15. Maureen says:

    "It is taking care of the future"

  16. Longwalker, a Native American Indian (on Jon Anderson "Toltec" music CD)

    "We are the gardener. And the gardener will not get back his pay unless the garden is beautiful. And we have a long ways to go to make our garden beautiful."

  17. Charlie reckons it is "healthier for people, the planet and the future".

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