What is Sustainability?

LCA - Life Cycle Analysis, EPD - Environmental Product Statement, GRI - Sustainability Reporting, CDP - Carbon Disclosure Statement, ECO Label


Sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything we need for our survival and well-being depends, directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. Sustaining sustainability is creating and maintaining conditions in which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony to support present and future generations.

Environmental sustainability interacts responsibly with the planet to conserve natural resources and avoid compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

A walk on the beach or a walk in the woods reminds us that our forests, coral reefs, and even deserts are examples of sustainable systems.

According to the United Nations (UN) World Commission on Environment and Development, environmental sustainability is about acting in a way that ensures that future generations have natural resources that can have an equal, if not better, lifestyle as current generations.

While not universally accepted, the UN's definition is fairly standard and has been expanded to include perspectives on human needs and well-being, including non-economic variables such as education and health, clean air and water, and the preservation of natural beauty.

How Environmental Sustainability Works

Changing definitions of environmental sustainability often raise more questions about what role people should play. For example, how, as an evolutionary species, should we change the way we live and do business on this planet to ensure it is sustainable for future generations?

Many also wonder if it is possible to use business as the catalytic force behind this change, as financial success can be linked to ecological and societal success. Individuals have a role, but so do institutions that contribute to the cause on a larger scale. More sustainable ways of living for all of us can take many forms, such as:

Reorganizing living conditions into eco-villages, eco-municipalities and sustainable cities

  • Re-application of economic sectors (permaculture, green building, sustainable agriculture) or working practices such as sustainable architecture
  • Developing new technologies (green technologies, renewable energy, etc.)
  • Making adjustments to individual lifestyles reserving natural resources.
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