The discovery of sustainability

Currently, “sustainable development” is the reference point that drives international and national discussions on future developments. The concept is a moving target that has been constantly evolving since at least the Stockholm conference in 1972. This video summarises the stages of this development so far.

Although sustainable development doesn’t have one clear-cut definition, it nevertheless has an important function. It serves as a role model for decisions about how desirable futures should be shaped.

This video presents the main cornerstones of how society discovered sustainable development. The evolution of this discovery was accompanied and strongly influenced by the knowledge gained in many scientific fields. The knowledge gains themselves resulted from picking up new societal topics and challenges concerning sustainable developments.

All these elements are sketched in the timeline below. Explore the timeline after you have watched the video. As it involves many elements, we recommend that you download it to deepen your understanding.

Diagram showing an overview of “The Discovery of Sustainability” timeline, including challenges in the scientific and societal spheres as well as the events since 1972. Overview of “The Discovery of Sustainability” timeline. © New Media Center.

Authors: Paul Burger, Ulf Hahnel

Further Reading

Visit the site of the Club of Rome

Resources around “Limits to Growth”