Sustainability is the capacity to endure. The ecological form of sustainability refers to how biological systems remain diverse and productive over time, while human sustainability is the potential for long-term maintenance of well-being, reliant on the well-being of the natural world and our responsible use of natural resources.
Sustainability has become a wide-ranging term that can be applied to almost every facet of life on Earth, from local to a global scale and over various time periods. Long-lived and healthy wetlands and forests are examples of sustainable biological systems.
Invisible chemical cycles redistribute water, oxygen, nitrogen and carbon through the world’s living and non-living systems, and have sustained life for millions of years. As the earth’s human population has increased, natural ecosystems have declined and changes in the balance of natural cycles have had a negative impact on both humans and other living systems.
There is abundant scientific evidence that humanity is living unsustainably, and returning human use of natural resources to within sustainable limits will require a major collective effort. Ways of living more sustainably can take many forms, including the reorganization of living conditions (e.g., eco-villages, eco-municipalities and sustainable cities), reappraising economic sectors (permaculture, green building, sustainable agriculture), or work practices (sustainable architecture), using science to develop new technologies (green technologies, renewable energy) and adjusting our individual lifestyles to conserve natural resources.