Currently the term sustainability is used in many contexts, and now it finds itself at a “saturation” stage. Consequently, it is necessary to be aware of its real meaning. There are various definitions; the following quote is the most used and better known to define sustainable development:
Development that seeks to meet the needs of the current generation without compromising the ability of the future generations to satisfy their own; means to allow that people both now and in the future reach a satisfactory level of social and economic development, as well as human and cultural achievement, while simultaneously using in a reasonable manner the earth`s resources and preserving the species and their natural habitats”. (Bruntland et al. 1987). Once more, the necessity to change the consumption patterns, is an argument previously defended by multiple authors in the 1970s, and which became self-evident in this report, when considering that “the richest stakeholders should adopt lifestyles that were in harmony with the ecological limits of the planet” (Bruntland et al. 1987).

This concept of sustainable development was consecrated in the document “Our Common Future”, published in 1987 by the World Commission on Environment and Development, a commission that belongs to the United Nations and led by the former Prime Minister of Norway, Gro Harlem Brundland, thus becoming known as the Brundtland Report.
This report identified the three fundamental components of sustainable development – environment, economy and society, as well as the need for a strategy that could unify the economic and social development. In truth the report went even farther. It considered that the sustainable development would demand the unification of the economy and ecology to the plateau of international relationships.


                                                           The pillars of sustainability and their interactions



Fonte: Baseado na Agência Francesa para o Desenvolvimento 

The definition of sustainability thus implies not only a balanced integration of the economical, socio-cultural and environmental systems, as well as the institutional aspects related to the up-to-date concept of “proper governance”. Implicit with this is the capacity to understand and analyse the problems in a transversal and systemic fashion. That is, it appeals to the urgency of caring about both the present events and future events, acting coherently to protect both.