Page 53 - Fountain and Water Works | Wed Generale Catalogue
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A bit of history:The evolution of the “Sustainable Development” concept

The need of tying the economic growth in with a fair resource allocation and 

merging them in a new model of development has made way since the 1970’s, 

in the wake of the awareness that a classic model of development, based on an 

uncontrolled growth, may have soon made any natural process and resource 

collapse. Economic growth isn’t inherently adequate; development is a real and 

true fact unless it somehow damages the life’s quality.

The idea of sustainability, in a more widely accepted sense, entails the capability 

of a development action to foster the growth of the global capital which is a 

combination of the economic, human and natural capitals.

The economic capital is the collection of all the things, both abstract and factual, 

created by humans, the human capital is the whole amount of the human 

beings and the natural capital is basically our world, with its resources and its 


The most common definition of “sustainability” is that given in 1987 by the 

World Commission on Environment and Development, chaired by Gro Harlem 

Brundtland, that “the humanity can make the development sustainable, that is it 

can meet the needs of this generation without affecting the capability of the future 

generations to meet theirs”.

The key factor of this definition is the need of looking for a kind of “fairness” as 

a whole: the future and present generations ought to have the same rights.The 

definition also conceals a reference to a deeper fairness, that is different kind 

of people, from different social classes, ought to have the same rights if they 

belong to the same generation.The outstanding meaning of this definition, even 

based on environmental philosophy, has stirred a wide international debate for 

a long time with several evolutions and further expansions of the“sustainability” 

meaning, which has been repeatedly coupled with “development” as a whole.

From this standpoint sustainability is not a rigid concept or vision, but an 

ongoing process which involves three basic and inseparable components of 

the global development: environmental, economic and social.


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