A perspective on environmental sustainability?

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A Perspective on environmental sustainability?

Environmental Sustainability

The Commissioner acts as an independent voice that advocates, audits and reports on environmental sustainability. The purpose of this paper is to explore the meaning of environmental sustainability. The community needs a definition of environmental sustainability that is easily understood, is logical, and is helpful in facilitating understanding, communication and effective action by all key players (government, community, business, innovators, academia, communicators, etc.).

The paper also explores the meaning of related terms and definitions eg.

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  • ‘sustainability’ and related words in common usage
  • ‘ecologically sustainable development’ (as defined by the Commissioner’s enabling legislation)
  • ‘sustainable development’ (the Brundtland definition)
  • ‘triple bottom line’.

A preferred definition of environmental sustainability

Environmental sustainability is "the ability to maintain things or qualities that are valued in the physical environment" This is the simplest and most fundamental way to express the concept.But people using the term environmental sustainability can specify or elaborate the term further to add extra meaning or to apply the concept to more specialised contexts.

What is the physical environment?

This is thephysical surrounds to something.For example, the land, waters and atmosphere, physical resources and thebuildings and roadsand other physical elements go to make up the urban environment.Rural environments are made up of the farms and living areas of people andthe land and waters and atmosphere and biological elements (species utilised by agriculture, pest species, and native species, and ecological communities both human induced and natural).Natural environments are those where the influence of wild species (indigenous and naturalised) is dominant or very strong.Physical resources, of all sorts, including mineral resources, can be considered to be part of the environment. Physical environments can be considered on all scales from the micro to the local, global and even larger scales. There is no sharp distinction between the environmental and other domains (eg. social and economic) – in fact the content of each domain overlaps other domains massively. The key to understanding doesn’t lie in trying to set non-overlappingboundaries between the domains but lies in being clear about the focus of different domains.

(Link to) Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability Act 00 The physical environment includes the natural and biological environments. What makes an issue a sustainability issue? A sustainability issue arises whenever a valued system, object, process or attribute is under threat.The existence of the valued system, object, process or attribute could be threatened or its quality could be threatened with serious decline. In other words there is a sustainability issue whenever there is something that is valued that faces the risk of not being maintained.

Whenever there is a strong sense of urgency, there is always a sustainability issue involved.This urgency couldrelate to something thatalready existsortoan understood potential.For example biodiversity might be threatened with extinction or the chance to realise the potential of a human being might be threatened,

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