“Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It contains within it two key concepts: the concept of “needs”, in particular the essential needs of the world’s poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment’s ability to meet present and the future needs.” (Brundtland Commission, 1987)

The achievement of sustainable development requires the integration of its economic, environmental and social components at all levels. This is facilitated by continuous dialogue and action in global partnership, focusing on key sustainable development issues.

Pope Paul VI, in his 1967 encyclical Populorum Progressio, linked heavy consumption to injustice, declaring that, “No one may appropriate surplus goods solely for his own private use when others lack the bare necessities of life…. The earth belongs to everyone, not to the rich.”

“We are part of the Earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters; the deer, the horse, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the juices of the meadows, the body heat of the pony, and humanity – all belong to the same family. What are humans without the beast? If the beasts are gone, humans die from a great loneliness of spirit. For whatever happens to the beast soon happens to humans. All things are connected. This we know. The Earth does not belong to humans, humans belongs to the Earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the Earth befalls humans of the Earth. Humans did not weave the web of life, individuals are merely a strand in it. Whatever she/he does to the web, she/he does to her/himself. (edited for inclusivity from Chief Seattle (c. 1786-1866))


  • Humanity’s demand for resources is now outstripping supply by about 25%, as the growth of our ecological footprint shows. Meanwhile the health of the planet’s ecosystems, measured by the living planet index, is falling, at “a rate unprecedented in human history,” according to the WWF. (Living Planet: Facts and Figures, 2006)
  • On average each person needs 2.2 global hectares to support the demands they place on the environment, but the planet is only able to meet consumption levels of 1.8 global hectares per person. (Living Planet: Facts and Figures, 2006)
  • The impact of human society on the environment is determined by the number of people on the planet and the way in which they live. (www.worldwatch.org)


  • What specific instances challenge me to reject the disposable consumer culture?
  • How do you define adequate quality of life – a decent living standard for all including future generations?
  • What specific actions am I taking toward living sustainably?
  • How active am I in sustainable approaches by communities, networks and movements?
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