Understanding of sustainability

The understanding of sustainable development on which this handout is based refers essentially to the definition in the guiding principles of the Brundtland Commission, as:

“[…] development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” (1987)

This standardised interpretation points above all towards the long-term conservation of natural, social, and economic resources in the interest of present and future generations, and thus includes the demand for inter- and intra-generational justice in a global context. Equal consideration of the three dimensions of environment, economy, and social affairs is of central importance: nature conservation, economic capacities, and social responsibility must be brought together in such a way that decisions are robust and sustainable from all three perspectives. The ultimate limit against which all actions are measured is the life-sustaining capacity of the Earth's ecosystem1. Sustainable development is context-dependent, and requires continuous negotiation between the various stakeholders to resolve potential conflicts of interest.

Further information

1 Hauff, V. (Ed.): Our Common Future. Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development, Greven, 1987
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