What is “Sustainability”?

The word sustainability is derived from the Latin “Sustinere” (sus: up, tenere: to hold). Dictionaries provide more than ten meanings for sustain, the main ones being to “Maintain", "Support" or "Endure”. However, since the 1980s sustainability has been used more in the sense of human sustainability on planet Earth and this has resulted in the most widely quoted definition of sustainability and sustainable development, that of the Brundtland Commission of the United Nations on March 20, 1987: “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

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