Environmental Management

, Volume 11, Issue 6, pp 713–719

Global sustainability: Toward definition

  • Becky J. Brown
  • Mark E. Hanson
  • Diana M. Liverman
  • Robert W. MeridethJr.
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Abstract

Sustainability is increasingly viewed as a desired goal of development and environmental management. This term has been used in numerous disciplines and in a variety of contexts, ranging from the concept of maximum sustainable yield in forestry and fisheries management to the vision of a sustainable society with a steady-state economy. The meaning of the term is strongly dependent on the context in which it is applied and on whether its use is based on a social, economic, or ecological perspective, Sustainability may be defined broadly or narrowly, but a useful definition must specify explicitly the context as well as the temporal and spatial scales being considered. Although societies differ in their conceptualizations of sustainability, indefinite human survival on a global scale requires certain basic support systems, which can be maintained only with a healthy environment and a stable human population. A clearer understanding of global sustainability and the development of appropriate indicators of the status of basic support systems would provide a useful framework for policy making.

Key words

Global sustainability Ecologically sustainable development Sustainable use of the biosphere 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Becky J. Brown
    • 1
  • Mark E. Hanson
    • 1
  • Diana M. Liverman
    • 1
  • Robert W. MeridethJr.
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Environmental StudiesUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA

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