Defining sustainable development has become an important issue for the scholarly community. Some authors have given a narrow definition, while others have suggested a more expansive definition. Moreover, many aspects of sustainability have crossed boundaries between different areas of society.
Traditionally, sustainable development has been divided into three dimensions: economic, social and ecological. These dimensions have been based on moral reflection, economic performance and environmental protection.
The economic dimension deals with the use of limited resources. Its goal is to maximize the net benefit of economic activity. It includes issues such as poverty reduction, environmental conservation, and social equity. It also incorporates new paradigms such as cradle to grave and circular economy.
The social dimension of sustainable development relates to the development of people. It aims to develop a socially and politically responsible society where all members have equal rights and share in societal benefits. It also focuses on building safe and caring communities.
The environmental dimension of sustainable development deals with the fragility of ecological systems. It also aims to maintain the balance between biological and physical systems and to enable ecosystems to adapt to changing conditions. It is important to preserve the atmospheric balance and the biodiversity of biophysical systems. It involves the preservation of natural resources and ecosystem services, such as food production, clean air and water, and the maintenance of the climate.
The institutional component of sustainable development consists of legal and political issues. It includes work on global development policy.