Sustainable development (SD) refers to a mode of human development in which resource use
aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met
not only in the present, but also for generations to come.
The most often-quoted definition of sustainable development: "development that meets the
needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own
needs." Sustainable development ties together concern for the carrying capacity of natural
systems with the social challenges faced by humanity.
Sustainable development reflects a process that meets the needs of the present without
compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Often called
intergenerational equality, the idea is that we should share natural resources not just with
people who are alive on the planet today but also with future generations of the Earth’s
inhabitants. While we can use a certain amount of the planet’s resources, we should never
entirely deplete a natural resource.
Sustainable development requires people to rely as much as possible on renewable resources
(the kind that can be replenished) by getting power from the sun rather than power from fossil
fuels such as oil, coal, and natural gas, which take millions of years to form.
Besides the careful stewardship of natural resources, sustainable development promotes the
eradication of poverty and extreme income and wealth inequalities, the goal of full
employment, the provision of access to quality and affordable basic services to all South
Africans, and the fostering of a stable, safe, and just society.