It is estimated that we use about 40% more resources every year than we can put back and that needs to change.
Sustainability and sustainable development focusses1 on balancing that fine line between competing needs - our need to move forward technologically and economically, and the needs to protect the environments in which we and others live.
Sustainability is not just about the environment it's also about our health as a society in ensuring that no people or areas of life suffer as a result of environmental legislation, and it's also about examining the longer-term effects of the actions humanity takes and asking questions about how it may be improved.
In 2005, the World Summit on Social Development2 identified three core areas that contribute to the philosophy and social science of sustainable development. These “pillars” 3in many national standards and certification schemes, form the backbone of tackling the core areas that the world now faces. The Brundtland Commission 4described it as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs". We must consider the future then, in making our decisions about the present.
Economic development is about giving people what they want without compromising quality of life, especially in the developing world, and reducing the financial burden and “red tape” of doing the right thing.
The biggest hot topic for many people right now is sustainable housing and how we can better build the homes we live in from sustainable material. Education and knowledge sharing is part of the process to encourage people5 to participate in environmental sustainability and teaching them about the effects of environmental protection as well as warning of the dangers if we cannot achieve our goals.
Environmental protection defines how we should study and protect ecosystems, air quality, integrity and sustainability of our resources and focusing on the elements that place stress on the environment. It also concerns how technology will drive our greener future.