sustainable fence

What is Sustainability?

Sustainability is a broad ranging term which can be applied generally to ascribe the ability to endure. When it comes to human endeavors, the most current definitions stem from the UN Brundtland Commission's Report:Our Common Future which defines sustainability as:

"Meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.“

UK’s Sustainability Policy Statement draws upon a home-grown definition by Richard S. Levine and Ernie Yanarella, co-directors of the UK Center for Sustainable Cities, that sees sustainability as a

"local, informed, participatory, balance-seeking process, operating within its Sustainable Area Budget, exporting no harmful imbalances beyond its territory or into the future, and thus opening the spaces of future opportunity and possibility."

Many definitions of sustainability also include reference to a triple bottom line. One that values economic vitality, ecological integrity and social justice as equal components in the pursuit of development.

At the University of Kentucky, we also understand sustainability to imply the development of responsible global citizenship.

Although the debate over exactly what the term means is far from over, we are convinced of its principles and understand that sustainability is a context-driven journey, not a restrictively defined destination.

Did you know?

The terms green and sustainable are not synonymous or interchangeable. This is an important distinction and two of UK’s faculty have recently published on the topic. Read a pdf of the paper here.

Drill Deeper

To further explore the discussion on the meaning of Sustainability check out the
Sustainability Thesaurus [Warning: PDF]