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What and why?

Introducing sustainability Guiding principles
dandelion tree rings

The goal of sustainable development is to ensure all people throughout the world are able to satisfy their basic needs, while making sure future generations can enjoy the same quality of life.

Sustainable development recognises the interconnections between society, the environment, and economy – and aims to use a holistic approach to find solutions that deliver benefits for all of these whilst minimising negative impacts. Our long term economic growth relies on protecting and enhancing the environmental resources that underpin it.

Why sustainable development?

The past 20 years have seen a growing realisation that the current model of development is unsustainable.

Our way of life is placing an increasing environmental burden on the planet through:

  • the consequences of unavoidable climate change
  • increasing stress on resources and environmental systems from the way we produce, consume and waste resources
  • increasing loss of biodiversity, from the rainforest to fish stocks.

We are also living in a world where over a billion people live on less than a dollar a day, more than 800 million are malnourished, and over two and a half billion lack access to adequate sanitation. A world disfigured by poverty and inequality is unsustainable.

Unless we reconcile these contradictions, we face a less certain and less secure future. It is in our long-term best interests to make a decisive move towards more sustainable development.

Page last modified: 28 February, 2011

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