The Green Review

What is Sustainability

Author: UNB Sustainability

Posted on Aug 23, 2021

Category: Questions

What is sustainability?

Sustainability – Living according to our needs, while making sure that future generations can also have their needs met.

Imagine an island in the middle of the ocean with only a few trees on it. You need wood for heat, food, cooking and light. If you cut down all the trees in one year, there will be none next year, or for future generations.

However, when discussing sustainability people normally think of sustainability as an environmental concept, and while this is true, sustainability encompasses many more things than just the environment. This is reflected in the way UNB defines Sustainability, and even the United Nations.


Three Pillars

  • Environmental Sustainability

Environmental Sustainability means that all of Earth’s environmental systems stay in balance. Human society is sustainable when our production and consumption rate allows the Earth’s systems to replenish themselves and stay in balance.

  • Economic Sustainability

Economic sustainability is about where people and companies decide to invest and spend their money. In an ideal world, we would have an economy where businesses value people and the environment over profit, and make decisions based on values and not price.

Thinking about money as an extension of yourself and your values shifts the power in your hands and allows you to systematically create more of what you believe in, based on where you choose to invest.

  • Social Sustainability

Social sustainability means everyone’s basic rights and necessities are met and the basic requirements to keep individuals/communities healthy, secure and respected.


Further Reading

To help with your understanding of Sustainability, and fuel your interest in learning more, UNB Sustainability recommends the following reading:


Taking Action

There are many kinds of action, and many ways of making a difference in the world.

Start with things we have the most control over – our everyday choices and lifestyle.

Collectively, this has a huge impact.

Here’s a simple way of understanding the different levels of action:

  • Individual – making changes in your own life.
  • Family, friends, neighbours – making changes with the people close to you.
  • Community, school board, local council –opportunities for you to make significant impacts.
  • National, International – challenging but the most powerful.

It can feel tough to know where to begin!

There is no ‘right way’ to be a change maker, it is about finding out the intersection between your passion, your skills and what the world needs.