"Development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs" - that is how the 1987 report of the World Commission on Environment and Development described sustainable development.
Sustainable development means doing business and making progress now without messing up the earth. It means using the earth's resources but using them thoughtfully.
It is a complex issue. How can we best meet the needs of people living on the earth today while still preserving the environment for future generations? There are many different ideas about the best answers. And there are many topics included under the umbrella of sustainable development. Some of them are agriculture, the atmosphere, climate change, disaster management, forestry, health, economics, sanitation, technology, and poverty. There are many others.
The World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2002 addressed many of these big issues. It made plans and recommendations for the future.
The 2002 Summit was a huge meeting. It was attended by heads of governments, business leaders, and representatives of many other groups from around the world. The other groups included youth groups, women's groups, workers, labor unions, and scientists. Altogether there were about twenty-two thousand participants.