What is Sustainability?

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John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove

Audubon Magazine

Sustainability is about more than just environmental issues. It is about addressing a wide range of issues including social equity, economic vitality and, of course, environmental concerns. It is with this expansive understanding that sustainability is commonly defined as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

In other words, sustainability attempts to balance the needs of people today with the future needs of our children and the natural systems that sustain daily life. In an era of population growth, increasing economic competition, and environmental challenges ranging from pollution to climate change and more frequent natural disasters to rising energy costs, planning is   essential to our future and the well-being of our communities. In the face of these challenges, municipal planning and operations must transcend traditional considerations and actively promote sustainability by incorporating the three “E’s” – economy, environment and equity - into the daily operation of the Municipality.

What can be done?

Increasingly, many local governments, ranging from towns and cities to counties and regional partnerships, are adopting a more long-term, comprehensive approach to  community development with the goal of improving local sustainability. They have recognized that planning for a sustainable future can bring  real-world present-day benefits to our towns and cities.