Sustainability Definition

What is sustainability?


Sustainability definition


You hear it everywhere, all the time, but you still can't really understand what is it?

Then you are the right place!


Sustainable development has been defined by the United Nations already in 1987 as:


"meeting the needs of the present

without compromising the ability of future generations

to meet their own needs"


Source: Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development



In other words, it means to use our resources carefully in order to not deplete them today, to still have some tomorrow.

Easy, right?


In a broader definition, sustainability is however not only a question of resources and environment but also of economy and society.

For example peace, no poverty, food and health for everyone are also a matter of sustainability, but more on a social level.


The three dimensions of sustainability

Sustainability is often defined through its three dimensions:

  • Environment (or Biosphere)

  • Economy

  • Society


The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, the United Nations defined a list of 17 goals for sustainability. They are called the Sustainable Development Goals.

The 17 SDGs organized according to the three sustainability dimensions

These 17 Sustainable Development Goals can be organized according to three dimensions of sustainability: environment, economy, and society, as seen above.

Source: Stockholm Resilience Center


SDG in focus according to the country 

Country development stage

While the SDGs apply to any country in the world, the development stage of the country set the focus and the challenges on different SDGs.

  • In developed countries, economic goals are more in focus, like SDG 12 - Responsible consumption and production, for example.

  • In developing countries, the focus is as well a lot on social goals like for example:

    • SDG 1 - No poverty

    • SDG 2 - No hunger

    • SDG 3 - Good health and well-being

    • SDG 4 - Quality education


Country geography

The SDGs linked to the biosphere (or the environment), are of three kinds:

  • Land

  • Water

  • Atmosphere


While atmosphere and land is a matter for all countries, countries that don't have any coast have a smaller focus on SDG 14, which is concerning oceans. 


For my part, I will here set my focus on the Sustainable Development Goal number 12:


Responsible consumption and production



Because this is the one that has the most impact on the environment and on climate change, and this is the one where each of us can have an impact on.


How can I take action on my consumption?

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