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Sustainability is meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
At OSU, we consider sustainability as good stewardship: good stewardship of our environment; good stewardship of our communities; and, good stewardship of our financial resources.
When most people think about sustainability, they think of the environment. That is a very important aspect of sustainability, but it is an incomplete version of it! Having a healthy, thriving planet that can be sustained for a long time requires caring for needs of all people and creatures because everything on earth is connected. Various pictures of sustainability can be summed up in Venn diagrams.
“Economic sustainability refers to practices that support long-term economic growth without negatively impacting social, environmental, and cultural aspects of the community.” - https://sustainability.umw.edu/areas-of-sustainability/economic-sustainability/
“Social sustainability occurs when the formal and informal processes; systems; structures; and relationships actively support the capacity of current and future generations to create healthy and livable communities. Socially sustainable communities are equitable, diverse, connected and democratic and provide a good quality of life.” – WACOSS, Western Australia Council of Social Services
Environmental “sustainability is about stabilizing the currently disruptive relationship between earth’s two most complex systems—human culture and the living world.” – Paul Hawken, https://www.thebalancesmb.com/what-is-sustainability-3157876
As you can see, these three aspects of sustainability are intertwined. The UN has compiled a comprehensive list of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that set expectations for countries to move towards to create a more sustainable world.