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What is Sustainability?

Sustainability Is…

Improving ecological integrity, human well-being, and social justice for present and future generations is the grand challenge of sustainability.

Sustainability is the “reframing” of the debate over human-environment relationship critical to ensuring quality of life for future generations – whether the human life-support system on earth can continue indefinitely, or whether it is changing the world in radical ways that will lead to new, undesirable states for people and the planet. The debate has evolved from past polarizing conversations of either development or environment to discussions of how humankind can transform its economic growth system into a sustainable approach that does not threaten earth’s life supporting systems.

Students marching in homecoming parade carrying signs promoting sustainability and a big globe of the earth.

“Sustainability is improving human well being and ensuring social equity for present and future generations while safeguarding the planet’s life-supporting ecosystems.”

Chris Boone
Dean, School of Sustainability


“Sustainability is a concept with as much transformative potential as justice, liberty, and equality.”

Michael Crow
President, Arizona State University


“Sustainability is larger than one person, one company, or one country. Its scope, scale, and importance demand unprecedented and swift solutions to environmental protection and other complex problems.”

Julie Ann Wrigley
President and Chief Executive Officer, Julie Ann Wrigley Foundation


“Living in harmony with our social and natural environment, based on a sense of justice and equity.”

Sander van der Leeuw
Foundation Professor, School of Sustainability


“Sustainability is an awareness of the connectivity of the world and the implications of our actions. It is finding solutions through innovative approaches, expanding future options by practicing environmental stewardship, building governance institutions that continually learn, and instilling values that promote justice..”

Charles L. Redman,
Founding Director and Professor, School of Sustainability


“Sustainability is a process that engages every discipline to provide dynamic solutions to complex issues.”

Brian McCollow
Former Student, School of Sustainability


“Sustainable development meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Brundtland Commission
1987 report, Our Common Future


“Promoting human prosperity and well-being for all, while protecting and enhancing the earth’s life support systems.”

Board of Directors of the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability at ASU