According to the Brundtland Report, sustainability is ‘meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’.
Sustainability is about equity: a sustainable society is one in which there is equitable access to the Earth’s resources both within and across generations. A sustainable organisation acts not only to ensure its own success but also to benefit the wider community and maintain a natural, healthy environment.
Broadly, sustainability can be divided into three categories, or ‘pillars’: environmental, social and economic. If one pillar is weak, the whole system is unsustainable. Ensuring environmental sustainability includes a reduction in resource depletion, the use of renewable energy sources, and ultimately maintaining the quality of the environment on a long term basis. Social sustainability is the ability of a community to develop processes which maintain a healthy community, not only to meet the needs for its current members but also for future generations. Economic sustainability is the ability of an economy or organisation to support a defined level of economic production indefinitely.