A Portal on Sustainability
"Sustainable development is any development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs."
The Brundtland Commission in its report "Our Common Future", 1987
04.05.2005 · Research Group on the Global Future
There are two opposing strategies of how to act in the future. On one end of the scale is a position that might be summed up with "future generations are themselves responsible for their well-being." On the other, there is the position of "complete halt and total cut-down on use of resources." However, by now, there is little doubt that something has to be done. Instead, the discussion today deals with questions on what exactly has to be changed and how to achieve a really sustainable future. Part of this portal's mission is to show how a sustainable future may be created on a sound basis. An overall global revolution will certainly not come. Differences among nations are too strong and international decision processes simply take too long and are too complex in order to make such a revolution possible. A more realistic approach starts with small changes worldwide that in fact make a difference - not a global revolution that is doomed to fail.
How can we manage to combine all those aspects that in parts seem to be so tremendously contradictory? What do we have to do to lead decent lives in a healthy environment with economic wealth and social justice? What does the concept of sustainability imply and how are we to implement it successfully?
Our sustainability portal is designed to provide users with substantial information on a variety of topics related to sustainability:
The section Definitions of Sustainability makes it obvious how a broad range of solutions may differ from field to field.
Continue to see how the concept of sustainability evolved on a UN basis and read a concise history of sustainability.
Institutions and Organizations
The diversity of views concerning sustainability points to the need for effective mechanisms to achieve a consensus when interests conflict with each other. What might be a sound strategy from an ecological perspective need not be a good solution from an economic point of view. Designing sustainable political institutions is also part of the process we need to go through in order to leave to our descendants an environment fit to live in. Institutions and organizations working on sustainability issues and those being part of a sustainable future can be found in any part of the portal. Thus they are summarized in the Bibliography.
Environmental aspects are the limitations of natural resources, renewable energies, endangered species and biodiversity.
Although food production seems to be adequate on a global scale, we face great problems of distribution and a high percentage of people remain undernourished. How can we produce and distribute enough food? What consequences will new technologies like biotechnology have for the agricultural sector? What other sources of energy are thinkable for utilization?
The last ice age ended as the global temperature rose for a few degrees over several thousand years. Today, we face global warming of some degrees more in just a couple of decades. What will happen to the environment when conditions change over the course of such a short time? What impact will this have on human living conditions? What do we have to do to leave to our descendants an environment fit to live in? What are the options towards a sustainable future?
Some economies of developing countries have experienced a rise in past decades, while others declined or crashed. Consumption of natural resources, in developing as well as industrialized countries, is steadily rising. How are industry and business coping with that? Do we simply have to cut down on consumption? And as a result, are we facing an era of curtailment and renunciation?
Although the growth of population has decreased in recent years, it is estimated that the overall population will climb to eight to 10 billion people in 2050. While the North's population is aging, the South's is growing increasingly. During the last 50 years the number of people on earth doubled. What impact does this have on our global future?
Today, it is commonly acknowledged that not all communities are affected equally by economic and environmental policies. To an increasing extent, communities realize that economic and environmental success depend on agreeing on a common and balanced vision for the future and policies that draw on their local strengths, i.e. on a communal level, and work on creating a society that is both socially and environmentally just.
Almost a quarter of the population will live in Africa while India, China and the United States will continue to be the most heavily populated countries of the world.
How is an increasing global population going to live in the future? What social issues will emerge?
The population living in big cities is rapidly increasing. In the next 15 years the population of many cities in Asia and Africa will nearly double. What housing patterns will be needed then? Are we going to be squeezed together in a minimum space?
While urban growth is related to increasing poverty and growing pollution, cities and their surrounding areas have to work on those problems with adequate development strategies.
Read about important documents and already achieved agreements regarding sustainability (e.g. the Kyoto Protocol).
This summary of organizations, journals, magazines, reports and articles, which in part have already been listed in the relating categories, should help you to find up-to-date information on a variety of topics you might wish to explore further. We also added a category providing you with links to other sustainability portals and gateways.