There are many definitions of sustainability. In fact, sustainability can mean different things to different people. For many years, the term “sustainability” equated in some people’s minds with environmentalism–people working to protect the planet from pollution, litter, and chemicals while trying to recycle and reduce their overall footprint on the planet.
While the environment is an important facet in sustainability, it is not the only facet.
Penn State sees sustainability as starting with people. The goal of sustainability is to create a holistic approach to human health, economy, and happiness. A stable and clean environment is an important part of that vision; but so, too, are issues like ending poverty, creating dynamic community infrastructure, and guaranteeing gender equity. Only with all of these components can we guarantee a sustainable future for all people.
Penn State has adopted the following as its formal definition of sustainability:
Sustainability is the simultaneous pursuit of human health and happiness, environmental quality, and economic well-being for current and future generations.