What is sustainability?

What is sustainability? Here’s one answer, provided by Charles Redman, director of the School of Sustainability at Arizona State University, as quoted by Andrew Revkin, who maintains the New York Times’ Dot Earth blog:

I have resisted providing a single definition for sustainability to the consternation of those who seek it. My reason is that I don’t believe it is a “simple” condition or a stable state that we might attain. I think it will be dynamic and contextualized both by place and time and by the observer. Having said that I do say to students in the program that there are five elements of sustainability that I expect them to measure themselves and their work by:

  • Awareness of the challenges facing us and the interconnectedness of the world and of our actions
  • Creativity to deliver innovative solutions in technology, business and social relations
  • Stewardship of limited and precious natural, human and cultural resources
  • Institutions that are flexible and effective because they continuously learn, adapt and provide leadership
  • Values that enhance equity, justice and inclusiveness

Here’s the rest of Revkin’s post, titled, Obama and Generation E, in Arizona.


About David

I am an environmental writer, journalist and speaker living in Cape Town, South Africa.
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