1.1 Sustainable Development Goals

Sustainability is composed of three inclusive and interconnected principles: Environmental, Social and Economic.

This definition of Sustainability was referenced in the Brundtland report from 1987 and is still used around the globe as a foundation for responsible business. Some organisations have adopted the triple bottom line framework which allows them to measure and evaluate their performance in terms of social and environmental impact, in addition to economic productivity. 

In 2015 as part of the United Nations General Assembly, many world leaders signed a collaborative blueprint: the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These 17 global goals are an urgent call to action by all countries, both developed and developing, to work in partnership with the overall goal of achieving a better and more sustainable future. 'They recognise that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests' (United Nations).

The term sustainability has become very broad and can be challenging to precisely define. The Sustainable Development Goals aim to make sustainability more ‘actionable’ by identifying specific targets for each goal and indicators that can be used to measure progress.  

The SDGs also include 169 sub-goals which present a comprehensive picture of target areas across the globe which require attention. All UN Member States have agreed to work towards achieving these goals by the year 2030.

Sustainability can also refer to the balance of available resources, ensuring that these resources are not depleted faster than they are naturally generated. Environmentalists and Ecologists argue that this can be achieved through natural resource management, maintaining the equilibrium between species and their environment. 

Whether or not the economic aspect is considered, the core tenet of sustainability is about balance and the co-existence between human civilisations and the biosphere, satisfying human needs today without compromising human needs tomorrow.