Sustainable Development means growing and promoting human advancements and needs while preserving and limiting negative impacts to our natural environment. An effective sustainability program can be pictured as a three-legged stool where sustainable development is based on strong environmental, social, and economic support systems. While all three legs of the stool are critically important to the stability of sustainable development and to making sound management decisions, a sustainable economy depends on a sustainable flow of materials, energy, and natural resources.
John Morelli of the Rochester Institute of Technology (2011) defines Environmental Sustainability as “… as a condition of balance, resilience, and interconnectedness that allows human society to satisfy its needs while neither exceeding the capacity of its supporting ecosystems to continue to regenerate the services necessary to meet those needs nor by our actions diminishing biological diversity.”
Ensuring that we have clean air, clean water, and productive land is the basis for maintaining strong social and economic systems. Without a productive environment in place as a foundation that provides the natural resources we need, it is difficult to plan for a sustainable society. Think of this, most ecosystems (communities of living organisms such as plants, animals, microscopic organisms, water, sunlight, air, etc.) can stand alone as a sustainable system if left undisturbed. A weakened environment inherently creates weaker social and economic systems. Among many other human needs, we obtain food, water, pharmaceuticals, natural medicines, fiber, energy resources, soils, pollination, and even cultural relevance through our interaction with the environment.
Because a sustainable environment is necessary to ensure strong social and economic systems, it should follow that the actions we take to reduce negative impacts in our environment and to maintain viable, protective environmental programs in our community are well planned and executed. For more information about Richland County’s sustainability efforts, contact Dr. Jamelle Elllis, Richland County’s Sustainability Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.