Sustainability is a complex concept. The most often quoted definition comes from the UN Bruntland commission: “sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” In the charter for the UCLA Sustainability Committee, sustainability is defined as: “the physical development and institutional operating practices that meet the needs of present users without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, particularly with regard to use and waste of natural resources. Sustainable practices support ecological, human, and economic health and vitality. Sustainability presumes that resources are finite, and should be used conservatively and wisely with a view to long-term priorities and consequences of the ways in which resources are used.” In simplest terms, sustainability is about our children and our grandchildren, and the world we will leave them.

Here are some additional resources defining sustainability:

For a more detailed explanation, you can also watch this lecture below from the UCLA Extension course Principles of Sustainability I, taught by Nurit Katz, UCLA’s Chief Sustainability Officer. For more information about the UCLA Extension Global Sustainability Certificate Program visit this site, or for a fully online version of the certificate offered through partnership with Empowered visit this site.

What is Sustainability?