definitions of environmental sustainability

Definitions of Environmental Sustainability

Understanding and using the word environment or environmental is often associated with some form of human impact on natural systems. This context separates it from the word “ecological”, which can be defined as a concept of the interdependence of elements within a system.

Environmental sustainability means meeting human needs without compromising the stability of ecosystems. This seems inappropriate as the common perception of the word ‘ecological’ is that it implies a broader context than just human experience.

However, the word “environment” is almost always used in reference to human interaction with the ecosystem. For the sake of accuracy, it seems reasonable to consider ‘environment’ as a subset of the broader concept ‘ecological’, ie the intersection of human activities and ecological systems.

So environmental sustainability is limited and actually becomes a subset of environmental sustainability. In general, this concept of “environmental sustainability” can be seen as an extension of some of the meanings of the “more general” definition of sustainable development,“Meeting the needs of the current generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs”, assuming the general definition of “meeting the resource and service needs of current and future generations without harming the health of the ecosystems that provide them”. ‘ (‘Our Future Together’).

More specifically, environmental sustainability could be defined as a state of balance, resilience, and connectedness that allows human society to meet its needs without exceeding the capacity of its supporting ecosystems to continue to meet those needs Needs to renew required services. nor for our actions that reduce biodiversity.


The following list contains 15 guiding principles compiled by the author and his students and colleagues from a variety of sources. They are divided into five categories. They are intended to stimulate thought and give advice. Readers are encouraged to revisit the original sources for more depth and perspective.

Social Needs

Do not produce anything that forces future generations to remain vigilant (“Sustainability Report”).

Design and deliver products and services that contribute to a 6 Journal of Environmental Sustainability – Volume 1 (“Moffat”). • Support local employment (Southampton City Council).

Support fair trade (Williams).

• Review the environmental properties of raw materials and make environmental sustainability a key requirement when selecting ingredients for new products and services (“Global Sustainability Principles”).

Protection Of Biodiversity

• Selection of raw materials that preserve the biodiversity of natural resources (“Global Sustainability Principles”).

Use of environmentally friendly and sustainable energy sources and investment in improving energy efficiency (“Global Sustainability Principles” ).

Regenerative Capacity

• Keep harvest rates of renewable resources within the regenerative capacities of the natural system that produces them (Goodland).

Keep the rate of depletion of non-renewable resources below the rate at which renewable substitutes are being developed (Good Earth).

Reuse and Recycle

• Design for Reuse and Recycle (“Sustainable Living 101”).

.• Design (or redesign, as appropriate) manufacturing and business processes as closed-loop systems, reducing emissions and waste to zero (Robinson).

Limitations on non-renewable resources and waste generation

• The scale (population x per capita consumption x technology) of the human economic subsystem must be limited to levels that, if not optimal, are at least within transport capacity and thus sustainable (Goodland).

Keep waste emissions within the assimilation capacity of receiving ecosystems without unacceptably degrading their future waste absorption capacity or other important ecological services (Goodland ).

Develop transport criteria that prioritize environmentally friendly modes of transport (Moffat).

Approach all product development and management decisions with full consideration of the environmental impact of the product throughout its life cycle (Moffat).

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