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Sustainability vs. Sustainable Development: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on February 11, 2024
Sustainability is the ability to maintain resources or processes long-term, while sustainable development focuses on meeting current needs without compromising future generations' ability to meet theirs.

Key Differences

Sustainability emphasizes the enduring maintenance of ecological balance. Sustainable development, however, is a process-oriented approach focusing on integrating economic, social, and environmental goals.
Sustainability applies broadly to systems, practices, and activities, seeking to preserve resources. Sustainable development specifically aims to achieve progressive, balanced growth while considering ecological limits.
The goal of sustainability is to avoid depletion of natural resources, ensuring their availability for the future. Sustainable development strategically plans for human needs while conserving the environment.
Sustainability is often implemented through individual and collective efforts to minimize environmental impact. Sustainable development involves policy-making, planning, and actions that align economic growth with ecological sustainability.
Sustainability is measured by the capacity to maintain ecological and resource balance. Sustainable development is assessed by indicators like economic growth, social inclusion, and environmental protection.

Comparison Chart


Maintaining ecological balance
Balancing economic, social, environmental goals


Broad application in various systems
Specific to development and growth

Primary Goal

Avoid resource depletion
Meet human needs, preserve environment


Individual/collective environmental efforts
Policy-making, planning for balanced growth

Measurement Indicators

Ecological/resource sustainability
Economic growth, social inclusion, eco-protection

Sustainability and Sustainable Development Definitions


Sustainability involves conserving an ecological system without depleting resources.
Sustainable agriculture practices contribute to long-term food sustainability.

Sustainable Development

Sustainable development focuses on meeting current needs without compromising future generations.
Creating affordable housing while preserving green spaces is a challenge in sustainable development.


Sustainability is the endurance of systems and processes.
Building with sustainable materials promotes construction sustainability.

Sustainable Development

Sustainable development involves long-term strategies for human well-being and ecological health.
Education on climate change is fundamental for promoting sustainable development.


Sustainability refers to the capacity to maintain ecological balance.
Using renewable energy sources is key to ensuring sustainability.

Sustainable Development

Sustainable development is a framework for progressing humanity without depleting natural resources.
Urban planning must consider sustainable development for future livability.


Sustainability means meeting current needs without harming future resources.
Water conservation efforts are essential for water resource sustainability.

Sustainable Development

Sustainable development is the growth that balances economic, social, and environmental needs.
Implementing green technologies is crucial for sustainable development.


Sustainability focuses on minimizing environmental impact.
Recycling is a simple yet effective way to practice sustainability.

Sustainable Development

Sustainable development integrates social equity with economic growth and environmental protection.
Sustainable development goals aim to reduce poverty and protect the planet.


Capable of being sustained.


What does sustainable development aim to achieve?

It aims to balance economic growth, social equity, and environmental protection.

Is sustainable development a global concern?

Yes, it's a global approach to achieving equitable and eco-friendly growth.

Are sustainable practices important in business?

Absolutely, businesses play a crucial role in promoting sustainability.

Can sustainability apply to energy?

Yes, sustainable energy focuses on renewable and efficient energy use.

Are there international goals for sustainable development?

Yes, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) guide global efforts.

Does sustainable development involve government policies?

Yes, effective policies are essential for guiding sustainable development.

What is sustainability?

Sustainability is maintaining ecological balance and conserving resources for the future.

What role do corporations play in sustainable development?

Corporations have a significant role in implementing sustainable practices and innovations.

How does education relate to sustainable development?

Education is key to understanding and implementing sustainable development practices.

Does sustainability focus on the environment only?

While it's often environmental, it also includes economic and social dimensions.

Are there legal frameworks for sustainability?

Various laws and regulations at national and international levels support sustainability.

Can individual actions contribute to sustainability?

Yes, individual choices and actions significantly impact sustainability.

Are sustainable technologies important?

Yes, they are crucial for advancing sustainability and reducing environmental impact.

How does sustainable development affect climate change?

It seeks to mitigate climate change through eco-friendly policies and technologies.

Can tourism be sustainable?

Yes, sustainable tourism aims to minimize environmental impact and benefit local communities.

Can sustainability be measured?

Yes, through indicators like carbon footprint, resource usage, and biodiversity health.

How does sustainable development impact future generations?

It aims to ensure future generations inherit a healthy planet with equitable resources.

Is sustainability achievable in urban areas?

Yes, through green infrastructure, efficient resource use, and sustainable urban planning.

How does sustainable development address poverty?

It aims for inclusive economic growth that provides opportunities for all, reducing poverty.

Does sustainable development require global cooperation?

Yes, global collaboration is essential for addressing worldwide sustainability challenges.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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