Sustainability and Sustainable Development

Authored by: Alan D. Hecht , Joseph Fiksel

Encyclopedia of Natural Resources

Print publication date:  July  2014
Online publication date:  June  2014

Print ISBN: 9781439852583
eBook ISBN: 9781351043847
Adobe ISBN:

10.1081/E-ENRL-120047481

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Abstract

Sustainability is generally understood to mean a state or condition that allows for the fulfillment of economic and social needs without compromising the natural resources and environmental quality that are the foundation of human health, safety, security, and economic well-being. Sustainable development is both a goal of achieving this state for the benefit of current and future generations, and a process whereby innovative tools, models, and approaches are adopted to advance economic prosperity while minimizing adverse global impacts. Many case studies of business and government show that adopting sustainable practices can both enhance economic growth and protect the environment and social well-being. The need for sustainable approaches to business and economic development is made more urgent today by increased rates of degradation and depletion of natural resources and by growing threats to human health and the environment. These stresses will only increase as the global population grows from 7 billion people today to 9 billion by 2050. The practice of sustainable development is essential for reaching the next level of environmental protection, social development, and economic progress. This entry identifies some key origins of sustainability in the United States and around the world and concludes with eight steps toward achieving sustainable development.

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