The Concept of Sustainability

  • Wouter Van Dieren


The paramount importance of sustainability arose partly because the world is recognizing that current patterns of economic development are not generalizable. Present patterns of OECD per capita resource consumption and pollution cannot possibly be generalized to all currently living people, much less to future generations, without liquidating the natural capital on which future economic activity depends. Sustainability thus arose from the recognition that the profligate and inequitable nature of current patterns of development, when projected into the not too distant future, lead to biophysical impossibilities. The transition to sustainability is urgent because the deterioration of global life-support systems that is, the environment, impose a time limit. We do not have time to dream of creating space or more environment, such as colonizing the moon or building cities beneath the sea; we must save the remnants of the only environment we have, and allow time for, and invest in, the regeneration of what we have already damaged.


Environmental Sustainability Natural Capital Human Capital Formation Global Ecosystem Strong Sustainability 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 1995

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  • Wouter Van Dieren

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