Digital Themes


What is Sustainability?

As a general principle, sustainability is the ability to manage, support, or maintain processes over time. Brundtland Commission, officially known as the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development, defines sustainability as "Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs".  From a policy and business standpoint, sustainability is a long-term principle that needs to be followed to preserve natural resources to prevent their depletion. The report also described sustainable development as the blueprint for attaining sustainability. Hence, the United Nations launched Sustainable Development Goals in 2015 as a roadmap toward sustainability for its member states to achieve by 2030.

For defining sustainability under sustainable development, we shall consider three interrelated pillars: Environmental, Economic, and Social.

Environmental Sustainability:

All life forms on the planet depend on their natural environment to survive, and many of those resources are replenishable. If the resource usage rate is equal to its replenishment, the system will be in equilibrium. However, if the rate of usage exceeds the rate of replenishment known as the replacement rate, there is a risk of resource scarcity, leading to severe ecological consequences.

Due to rampant development and lifestyle changes, the current replacement rate puts the world at risk of resource scarcity, leading to serious ramifications like greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. Without making significant changes in the way we live, the planet will suffer from irreparable damage. Environmental sustainability is not just about using recyclable materials but identifying, managing, and minimizing the negative impact of all anthropogenic factors using policies and rules at a macro and micro level.

Economic Sustainability:

The world's economic development and growth are largely dependent on exploiting natural resources. Economic sustainability is a principle that focuses on finding avenues of economic growth by reducing negative impacts on the environment and social wellbeing of the people at macro and micro levels.

Social sustainability:

The economic growth achieved by the world over time has negatively impacted the environment and the social life of individuals. The growing rate of inequalities will make sustainability a more complicated goal. Social sustainability uses policies and business practices that uphold universal human values to remove structural obstacles in individual treatment and individual rights. Economic development that meets social development will lead to a more conscious society toward the overall concept of sustainability. 

The global effects of climate change impact the world in multiple ways. If this trend is not addressed and controlled using policy interventions, it will threaten the basic fabrics of human existence on Earth. Both developed and developing countries are actively making policy shifts in their legislations to attain sustainability and sustainable development goals. This includes compliance mechanisms, climate action, and rules for businesses. The business community is the change agent in this mission. By incorporating sustainability into organizations' Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) 

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