Ecologically sustainable development

Sustainability is a term bandied about in the speeches of politicians and public servants but do we really understand what they are talking about? There are hundreds of definitions, it seems, which give it a very ambiguous meaning within a broad conceptual framework. Ecologically sustainable development (ESD) is an important concept in policy and legislation.

The best-known definition of sustainability or sustainable development is from the World Commission on Environment and Development. It defines sustainability as:

forms of progress that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

A widely accepted concept used in developing public policy and legislation in Australia is ecologically sustainable development (ESD) which encompasses the following requirements:

  • the precautionary principle – lack of scientific certainty is not be used as a reason against  preventing environmental degradation;

  • intergenerational equity – our generation is to make sure that the health, diversity and productivity of the environment is maintained for future generations;

  • conservation of biological diversity and ecological integrity must be considered; and

  • improved valuation, pricing and incentive mechanisms are to be included in the valuation of environmental assets and services.

Ecologically sustainable development is an important environmental concept. Madrigal Communications has technical writers well-qualified to help you communicate difficult ideas to your stakeholders. We are also experienced in scoping and writing sustainability reports and environmental plans and procedures.