development meets the needs of the present without compromising
the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."
Nations World Commission on Environment and Development
of the word 'sustainable' include "to keep in existence; maintain"
and "to supply with necessities". The idea of sustainability
has often been applied to the area of resource management. Considering
a resource in finite supply, that resource must be managed in a
manner that will allow its use for an extended period of time if
it serves an extremely valued purpose. Examining fossil fuel usage,
one might consider higher fuel efficiency and increased use of renewable
fuels as methods to reach a sustainable fuel demand such that fossil
fuels will be available for generations to come.
The concept of sustainability can be expanded beyond the use of
just one resource to include an entire community. If a community
wishes to continue its existence, it must be supplied with adequate
resources at a rate which is sustainable. Otherwise the resource
base would eventually dry up and the community would be forced to
disassemble or change radically. The question then becomes what
kinds of resources must be managed in order to provide a sustainable
atmosphere for a community. While energy resources are important,
housing, sanitation, social welfare, education, infrastructure,
human health and economic resources must also be considered. If
these community elements break down, the community will eventually
be stressed by an imbalance of resources.
is an extraordinarily complicated idea to implement. The elements
that influence sustainability in a community are probably too numerous
to ever compile an entirely comprehensive list. Therefore, sustainability
is generally approached using a top-down model. In other words,
if the concept of sustainability consisted of only three overarching
themes, what would they be? In this sense sustainability is typically
thought to be described by the three interrelated areas of 'economic
vitality', 'social justice' and 'environmental quality and human
health' such that all elements of a sustainable community can theoretically
be categorized under at least one of these three areas.
are not examined to study their sustainability (since it is doubtful
that any community is truly sustainable at this time), but communities
are concerned with sustainability as a goal to reach through development
and growth. Sustainability considers development in a way that takes
into account the interdependence of environmental and human health,
economic vitality, and social justice, which serve as the primary
benchmarks of community wellbeing. It focuses on incorporating the
needs of the current citizens as well as impacts to "unseen"
stakeholders (future generations of citizens) into the decision
making process. As such, sustainable development hopes to achieve
appropriate awareness of all factors contributing to the overall
wellbeing of a community in any decision making process.
While all definitions
of sustainability emphasize this kind of all-encompassing consideration
in decision processes, the specifics of the definition may vary
between theorists. It is important to become familiar with the many
working definitions and methods of application in order to understand
the specific applications and particular nuances of this abstract