One School, One Tree, One Gift to Nature

Sustainable Development

Many different groups, including media, governments, businesses, scientists, United Nations agencies, often use the term sustainable development (sometimes called sustainability) in describing how to create a better world for all.

There are almost as many definitions of sustainable development as there are groups talking about it; however, a common theme runs through the various definitions. Sustainable development is often explained as balancing three components: environment, society, and economy. The well-being of each of these three areas depends on the well-being of the others. In other words, it’s impossible to have a vibrant healthy environment and society if the economy is very weak.

Perhaps the most popular definition of sustainable development is the one used in the famous 1987 publication Our Common Future (a.k.a. the Brundtland Report, named after the commission’s chair Gro Harlem Brundtland) by the World Commission on Environment and Development. It defined sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987, p 43).

Learn more about sustainable development:

•    Peruse some fantastic resources on many sustainable development issues at the United Nations Cyberschoolbus website.

•    See the full text of the report Our Common Future in an easy-to-read format provided by the Centre for a World in Balance (Some of the text is written in complicated terms).

•    Visit the TakingITGlobal website to find toolkits, books, blogs, projects and more on sustainable development.

•    Read Global Challenge, Global Opportunity: Trends in Sustainable Development, which summarizes the issues tackled at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002.

The term “sustainable development” first appeared in 1980 in the World Conservation Strategy, published by The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).


Source: Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks of Quebec, Canada.