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What is Sustainability?

Sustainability is a word we hear a lot these days. Different definitions come from different people and different groups:

  • “The ability of present generations to meet their needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” - United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987
  • The ability of a species, a habitat, or an ecological system to endure not just in the present, but into the indefinite future.
  • The interconnected health and well-being of three systems in a community: economic, social, and environmental.
  • The area where the circles overlap is the area of sustainability, the areas of livability – the area where all the threads of quality of life come together. If we are to have it all, we must recognize that these three circles are not separate, unrelated entities.”   - former Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, 2000