Sustainability, or as it is sometimes referred to as ‘Ecological Sustainable Development’ (ESD), is defined in the Australia's National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development (1992) as 'using, conserving and enhancing the community's resources so that ecological processes, on which life depends, are maintained, and the total quality of life, now and in the future, can be increased'.
The Five Key Principles of Sustainability
Integration – Decision making that integrates a consideration of economic, social and environmental impacts (The Triple Bottom Line)
Community Involvement – Sustainability can only be achieved with the involvement and support of the whole community
The Precautionary Principle – A lack of scientific certainty should not delay preventative measures to protect the environment from severe and/or permanent damage. The Precautionary Principle has its own dedicated website with a historical recap on what happens when the principal is not exercised.
Fairness and Equity – Fair and even opportunity and access to resources should exist within peoples of the same generation and between the current generation and the people of the future.
Continual Improvement – The current poor condition of planet earth’s ecosystems requires immediate rehabilitation and the methods employed must be continuously advanced and improved.
Sustainability in Australia
At a National level, Australia faces a range of sustainability issues, which range from environmental topics like the Murray Darling Basin and Climate Change mitigation and adaptation; social topics like protecting indigenous culture and urban sprawl; and, economic sustainability topics like prosperity through innovation and education. Further investigation on National sustainability challenges are detailed in the Sustainable Australia Report 2013: Conversations with the Future.