Sustainable World Coalition: Sustainability and Inclusivity

By Allen, Vinit | Earth Island Journal, Autumn 2004 | Go to article overview

Sustainable World Coalition: Sustainability and Inclusivity


Allen, Vinit, Earth Island Journal


"Sustainability" is rapidly becoming a buzzword that needs clarification. The working definition used most widely is "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." This was set forth in 1987 in the report "Our Common Future" by the World Commission on Environment and Development, also known as the Brundtland Commission.

Sustainability in this sense clearly implies regeneration and health for ecosystems, people, and living things in general--something more than just "long-lasting."

Sustainability places an emphasis on inclusivity. Any truly sustainable solution must necessarily include all stakeholders, including all life forms. Sustainability thus is not political in the sense of "our side versus theirs," or "left versus right." Everyone is considered to be on the same side. Sustainability requires humanity to seek solutions that work for the Earth and all of its inhabitants.

Such solutions involve making sure that all sides are heard and considered, and making the tough choices and compromises that will produce the greatest good for the whole, taking into account the long-term consequences of those choices.

Sustainability issues are always made up of three core elements (what the UN refers to as the "three pillars" of sustainability)--environment, human rights, and economics. Attempting to deal with any major issue without examining all three elements will not produce sustainable results in the long term. For example, if the environmental aspects of rainforest destruction are examined without also considering human rights factors (such as those of indigenous tribes) or the economics involved, any program to limit deforestation will be undermined.

In looking at the overall game plan for enhancing sustainability, three key areas require strong focus: balanced media reporting, corporate accountability, and campaign finance reform. …

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