Date: Sun, 13 Sep 2009 18:51:47 -0400
Reply-To: List Moderator <ecgrants**At_Symbol_Here**UVM.EDU>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: List Moderator <ecgrants**At_Symbol_Here**UVM.EDU>
Subject: Re: sustainability definition

From: vksoni**At_Symbol_Here**

Subject: Fw: Fw: [DCHAS-L] 3 Re: [DCHAS-L] sustainability definition

Date: September 13, 2009 10:43:31 AM EDT

Dear all, pl find the definition as under from a different perspective.vksoni

From: Meera Soni <meerasoni**At_Symbol_Here**>
Date: Sun, 13 Sep 2009 21:04:36 +1000
Subject: Re: Fw: [DCHAS-L] 3 Re: [DCHAS-L] sustainability definition

"meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." 
Its a well accepted and also a well critiqued definition for sustainable development. 

The definition, quoted by the Thacher government, takes a 'vague approach' by including  inestimable  words like 'needs' or 'future'. However the ambiguity is intentional to leave room for flexibility and scope for custom-made context responsive solutions.  The concept of sustainability is a proponent of  versatility aimed at longevity of a process or a product. Nevertheless, at all times it speaks of a holistic approach considering the three spheres of ecology, society and economics.
Again, the definition is useful to initiate thought and accumulate quantity of believers, however is fatal to the concept of sustainability once it comes to the practical application. Due to the intended ambiguity, the concept can be interpreted in in numerous ways, some of which may be actually counter-productive.
Few principles, as quoted by Kyoto protocol, are of use here:
Precautionary Principle, that is, do not practice something which is known to be counter productive towards the goal of sustainability
Equity, that is across generations, and across nations.

Sustainability may have been in practice since many decades at different levels and with varying degrees of vigor. Currently, due to the urgency of climate change, the one crucial aim of practicing sustainability is to reduce carbon footprint of any act, process or product. As critical the aim is, sustainable development is a much wider and idealistic concept which may seem to be failing under the financial, fuel and food crisis of the contemporary world. The theory is not only about a technological fix, say photovoltaic cells, or of a social improvement, say grass root level approach, or of conserving biodiversity. The theory of sustainable development encompasses all. To practice the right approach at the right place, in the right time; while being aware of the larger level issues and intentionally responding to the context is a step towards sustainable development.

Meera Soni
Master of Sustainable Development, UNSW

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