Sustainability and Law

What is sustainable development?


It is not easy to find an universally agreed definition of what sustainable development means.
A first definition has been given by the Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development in 1987 (the so called Brundtland Report) that qualifies as sustainable the “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.
Moving from the Brundtland Report the following definitions became, during the years, more specific and pragmatic.
Today, the definition of sustainable development makes reference to the dynamic process which enables people to realise their potential and improve their quality of life in ways which simultaneously protect and enhance the earth’s life support systems.
Hence, some of the key principles related to sustainable development are the following: quality of life, fairness and equity, care for the environment recognizing the existence of “environmental limits”, application of the precautionary principle (mentioned by art. 191 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union).