The term “sustainability” has been used in the context of resource management for almost 30 years, but the definition changes with each expert consulted.
One of the broadest definitions of the term comes from a report by the United Nations (UN) 1987 World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED).
The UN report defines sustainability as “using resources to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (WCED, 1987).
Although the UN’s definition is viewed to be particularly broad, the message is clear - individuals and the organizations they form (nations, corporations, society, etc.) should consider the future when accessing and using resources.
For generations, we have collectively had a supply of resources that far exceeded our needs, but evidence suggests that these natural resources are becoming more stressed over time.
Without implementing extensive and meaningful sustainability practices, in the future key resources will be harder - if not impossible - to acquire.