Sustainability, Thoroughly Defined

Intuitively, “sustainability” is a societal ideal worth pursuing, although it does
become somewhat elusive when probed more deeply. The ideal implies the
existence of the appropriate knowledge and governance capacity to maintain
economic vitality with social inclusiveness in opportunities and benefits, provide
for ecological sustainability and the protection of biodiversity to guide the
use of resources, and promote social equity within and across groups and generations.
All three are necessary and no one of them alone is sufficient. These requirements must also hold across a range of spatial and temporal scales. The key issues rather quickly become those associated with fundamental processes to nurture rather than attributes to perpetuate, and all have to be carried out in a world of many unknowns and unknowables.

“Models for Sustainability Emerge in an Open Systems Context”
George Francis, The Integrated Assessment Journal Vol. 6, Iss. 4 (2006), Pp. 59–77