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Environmental sustainability

Environmental sustainability is talked about in relation to all aspects of our lives – from creating eco homes and environmentally conscious communities to sourcing sustainable food, renewable energy, low impact furniture and clothing. But what does environmental sustainability actually mean? There are many definitions in use by green groups, business and politicians – some simple and some more complex. The concept of sustainable development was first put forward in the 1987 report ‘Our Common Future’ – prepared for the World Commission on Environment and Development. They recognized the links between inequality, poverty and environmental degradation and were seeking a way forward for a fairer world with less damage to the environment that supports communities. Our Common Future, or the Bruntland Report, as it is also known in reference to its author, established the concept of sustainable development as the way forward for a fairer society, which looks after its resources. The report defined sustainable development as “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” It therefore follows that environmental sustainability is ensuring that in meeting our needs for water, food, shelter as well as engaging in activities that make our lives enjoyable – including leisure activities and entertainment – we don’t cause damage to our environment or deplete resources that we can’t renew.