The following was written by Holy Cross Br. David Andrews, a senior representative at the Washington-based Food & Water Watch, a consumer lobbying organization.
The word “sustainable” is being used in so many ways today that it is hard to know what it means. It came into increasing use after the 1987 report “Our Common Future” published by the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development -- also known as the Brundtland Report, named after the Chair of that Commission.
Its fundamental insight is now well known: “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
It has frequently been asserted that sustainable development rests on a three legged stool: social justice, environmental protection and economic well being. In other words it sees three elements: the planet, profit and people as interrelated in any holistic view of sustainable development.
Advocates of sustainable agriculture typically utilize these elements in their vision of sustainability.