Sustainability Definitions, Historical Context, and Frameworks

  • Sandra J. Garren
  • Robert Brinkmann


Different experts and organizations define sustainability in different ways. This introductory chapter discusses these definitions and reviews the development of the field of sustainability since it emerged from the United Nations in the 1980s. Additionally, the chapter highlights how sustainability brings together important themes of environment, economics, and social equity to try to limit the impact of human activity on the planet. We highlight how sustainability is assessed and measured by summarizing a number of local, national, and international assessment schemes used in a variety of contexts. We also consider how the three pillars of sustainability (environmental protection, economic development, and social equity) are key to each of the case studies presented in this book. As we consider how the world is changing, society will look more and more to sustainability experts to try to find solutions to our emerging problems. The case studies presented in the book are an important contribution that provides examples on best practices on sustainability and highlights lessons learned and continued barriers and challenges related to sustainability.


Sustainability Sustainable development Sustainability frameworks Sustainability assessments Sustainability case studies 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sandra J. Garren
    • 1
  • Robert Brinkmann
    • 1
  1. 1.Geology, Environment, and SustainabilityHofstra UniversityHempsteadUSA

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