Sustainability is the capacity to endure in a relatively ongoing way across various domains of life. In the 21st century, it refers generally to the capacity for Earth's biosphere and human civilization to co-exist. For many sustainability is defined through the interconnected domains of environment, economy and society, although efforts to extend its domains to other areas of human endeavors also exist. Sustainable development, for example, is often discussed through the domains of culture, technology economics and politics.
According to Our Common Future (Brundtland Report), sustainable development is defined as development that "meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."
Moving towards sustainability can involve social challenges that entail international and national law, urban planning and transport, supply-chain management, local and individual lifestyles and ethical consumerism. Ways of living more sustainably can take many forms, such as:
- reorganizing living conditions (e.g., ecovillages, eco-municipalities, and sustainable cities)
- reappraising economic sectors (permaculture, green building, sustainable agriculture) or work practices (sustainable architecture)
- using science to develop new technologies (green technologies, appropriate technologies, renewable energy and sustainable fission and fusion power)
- designing systems in a flexible and reversible manner
- adjusting individual lifestyles to conserve natural resources
Despite the increased popularity of the use of the term "sustainability", the possibility that human societies will achieve environmental sustainability has been, and continues to be, questioned—in light of environmental degradation, biodiversity loss, climate change, overconsumption, population growth and societies' pursuit of unlimited economic growth in a closed system.