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sustainable development examplesSustainable development is a term that’s been widely used for many years. It’s goal is to reflect the mindset you need – and the importance of considering the consequences of every decision you make. The most favored definition is from 1987, classifying sustainability as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

This sounds great on paper, but how do we actually go about it? There are three main pillars that make up sustainability, namely the social, economic and environmental needs that make up the majority of our decisions today. Social needs are ensuring equal opportunity in a community, encourage diversity and cohesion while having an open and accountable governance structure. This course covers many of the points that are critical in maintaining diversity. Economic needs are primarily concerned with the production, use and management of resources, especially if there is a limited supply. Environmental sustainable development is the final category, and is based on the idea of keeping the natural environment as pristine as possible.

When it all boils down to it, sustainable development is looking at the world as a system, and making the best effort we can to ensure that system remains healthy for our children.

Global Impact

Sustainable development has two major themes. The first is that the entire world is a single space, and nothing happens in isolation. What one country or company is doing can have a far reaching impact to another part of the globe. Air pollution from North America can affect the quality of the air across Asia, so a responsible business owner will take measures to improve it. Pesticides sprayed in South America have a massive impact and can harm fish stocks off the coast of Australia, so you should be using as little as possible.

No action you take is in complete isolation.

The second theme to consider is the impact from decisions made over time. The way our grandparents farmed the land is still the primary influence in how agriculture is done today. Perhaps there are better, or different ways that farmlands could be managed that have less of an impact on the health of the world? The economic and social policies we endorse today have a massive impact on the urban community as our children grow into adults. We need to think not only about what’s best for us today, but what’s best in the long run.

Your quality of life is part of the entire ecosystem. Being physically healthy is great, but what happens when you don’t have access to education? Having a secure income is fantastic, but what if you’re breathing polluted air every day? It’s amazing to have the freedom to support any religion you like, but what happens when you can’t afford to feed your family? All of the problems we face are complex, and serious – but they can’t be addressed in the way they were created. We need to adopt new practices. As follows are best ways we can improve all three pillars of sustainable development and leave the world a better place for future generations.



The key here is to ensure the most efficient use of assets so that profitability can be maintained for the longest amount of time. This is also key in putting together a winning business proposal, which you can learn about in this recent post.


When you make decisions without considering the future impact of your actions you may be making short term progress, but you are undermining the long term progression of the entire ecosystem. If a community is poorly planned it has a negative impact on the lives of everyone who lives there. But as you look into the details, there are many puzzling concerns when you start to become involved in sustainable development.

For example:

Ultimately sustainable development is all about striking a balance. You need to take actions that support your short term objectives and necessities, without disregarding the long run implications of your actions. When you can logically consider both, that’s when true sustainable development can be reached.

What Can We Do?

Everyone has a part to play in sustainable development. Every decision you make, no matter how small – the contributions you make act to support sustainability. So make sure you’re choosing to support the right things.

Business owners need to take all of the above to heart, and adopt these practices into the daily running of your enterprise. If you’re new to strategic thinking you can learn the main principles in this course, and remember to not just look at the bottom line profitability. Future profitability is what will set your entire family up for success, no matter how long you’re in business.

For individuals, many of these actions can also be implemented in your home and your daily practices. Put a value on what sustainability means for you, and make your choices wisely. The future state of the world for our children will be decided now, in the actions we take today.

Page Last Updated: February 2020

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