Sample Essay on Sustainable Environment

Sustainable Environment

From research it is not easy to formulate one definition of an environment is virtually impossible. Nonetheless in anthropological terms the environment can be defined in three basic forms namely ecological, social or cultural, economic and currently political which make up the physical environments. Though dissimilar in definition recent research has found that all these three basic anthropological environment are interconnected and hold a singular effect. Resent changes in terms of climate change and global warming has raised the public attention towards the sustainability of the environment that all people in the world live in. this report is founded upon understanding the environment and the mechanisms of sustaining it for better living to all.


Ecological environment is defined as the natural environment that covers all living as well as non-living things interacting naturally in a specified region or globally. It is an environment that encompasses the interaction of all living species and provides a platform for their interaction. On the other hand, the social environment, social context, sociocultural context or milieu refers to the immediate physical and social setting in which people live or in which something happens or develops. All the above environmental systems definitions all add up to the definition held by physical environment which is the influence of all beings living and non-living to its surroundings (Vezzoli & Manzini,32).  By understanding what the surroundings of an environment are one can easily comprehend the concept of sustainability and in turn a sustainable environment. According to scholars the concept of environmental sustainability can be referred to the process of maintaining a specific context of quality to enhance the interaction between all parties in the set region.

Environmental sustainability is the capability or capacity to sustain the qualities that are esteemed to sustain life in the physical environment.For example, most people or public wish to sustain (maintain):

  • Human life
  • The capabilities that the natural environment has to maintain the living conditions for people and other species for example, clean water and air, a suitable climate)
  • The aspects of the environment that produce renewable resources such as water, timber, fish, solar energy
  • The functioning of society, despite non-renewable resource depletion
  • The quality of life for all people, the liveability and beauty of the environment

Threats to these features of the environment mean that there is a risk that these things will not be maintained.  For example, the large-scale extraction of non-renewable resources for example minerals, coal and oil or destruction done to the natural environment can fashionsome form of threats of severewaning in quality or destruction and even extinction of species.Conventionally, when environmental complications arise environmental managers work out how to lessenand eradicate the damage or wastage, this is by simple definition what environmental sustainability is about. Hence a sustainable environment is an environment that is well suited to the combination of living and non-living organisms in a specific region.

The definition that describes a sustainable environment as a physical environment with a well maintained quality that is valued to attain good correlation between the living and non-living organisms is regarded as the simplest and most fundamental way to express the concept. Individuals using the term sustainable environment can elaborate the term further to add extra meaning or to apply the concept to more specialised settings.

Notably, the concept of a sustainable environment and sustainability are very dissimilar as environmental sustainability is based on fewer parameters than sustainability which goes beyond the environment to human behaviour.

Literature review

This section of the paper is set to break down the concept of a sustainable environment through different school of thoughts on the subject matter by answering a set of fundamental questions.

What is a sustainable environment?

The simplest definition of a sustained environment is an environment with ideal conditions of the physical environment to sustain a good value of living (Environmental sustainability, 10). Physical environments are all existent on all modules of environments from natural to rural and urban.

What is the physical environment?

This is the physical surrounds to something that is determined by several other environmental systems.  For example, the land, waters and atmosphere, physical resources and the buildings and roads and other physical elements go to make up the urban environment.  Rural environments are made up of the farms as well asfarm houses plus the land, waters, and biological elements such asspecies of both ecological communities both human induced and natural.  Natural environments on the other hand are those where the influence of wild species indigenous and naturalised is dominant or very strong.Contemporary theorists on environmental sustainability have also place political environment as part of the sustainability context.

All the above mentioned environments have resources of all sorts which are classified into two basic categories namely renewable resources and non-renewable resources hence as previously stated it is clear to then understand that both artificial and natural feature come up to form a physical environment which is an anthropological summary of all environmental systems. Physical environments can be considered on all scales from the micro to the local, global and even larger scales.

What makes the environment a sustainability issue?

A sustainability issue comes about whenever a valued ecological system, object, process or attribute is threatened. This in turn means that when the renewable and non-renewable resources are facing depletion then sustainability of the environment becomes an issue.For example in one case biodiversity might be endangered with extinction as in another the chance to realise the potential of a human being might be threatened, if for instance they remain in poverty or their lives are threatened by violence or disease (The latter would usually be thought of as being social sustainability issues).

Is there any connection between environmental sustainability and social or economic sustainability?

Since humans relay onnumerous ways on the physical environment both natural as well as human constructed sustaining preferred environmental conditions directly contributes to the sustaining of people and human societies, which is regarded as social sustainability.  The sustainability of the economy clearly dependant on environmental resources as well as service flows so economic sustainability is as subsequent to environmental sustainability.However, sustainability issues as earlier noted are multifaceted and are varied from one domain to another whether rural environments or urban ones. As a clarification of the above information it is clear that sustainability issues can be classified into separate domains and hold dissimilarities however this does not mean these issues are unrelated.

What features are to be sustained to allow an environment attain the tag of a “sustained environment”?

There is no automatic, fixed agenda built into the term environmental sustainability hence the same can be said with a sustained environment.  In respect to this one has to look to the context to see what factor of the environments can be sustained a factor which several scholars and organisations already have well developed as to which aspects of the total ‘environment’ should be sustained when environmental sustainability is pursued.

According to Herman Daly, one of the early pioneers of environmental sustainability and other likeminded scholars suggest that with any social, political processes as well as physical environment, there is persistent public pressure to maintain (sustain) things such as:

  • Ecosystem services such as nutrient cycling, the water cycle, natural waterpurification, climate moderation, as well as soil protection
  • High quality urban environments
  • Areas of natural beauty for example, forests
  • Other species and ecological communities
  • The user value flowing from physical resources for example minerals, energy, renewable resources, water

In other words Environmental sustainability is the amounts of renewable resource for instance harvest, pollution creation, as well as non-renewable resource depletion that can be continued indefinitely. If they cannot be continued indefinitely then they are not sustainable.

What motivates us to want to sustain something in the physical environment?

We might want to sustain something in the physical environment because it is useful to us: for example the quality of local urban environments. Or we might want to do it because we care about the wellbeing of other people or other species – for their sake, not ours. That is we can be motivated by utilitarian concerns or altruism. Sometimes we maintain something in the environmental domain in order to make it possible to achieve another goal in another domain.  For example, we might sustain marine habitats in order to support the livelihood of coastal townships.  Or we might sustain renewable resources so that we can support economic development or genuine progress.

How long should we try to sustain something?

This question can only be answered after deciding specifically what needs to be sustained and why. For example, ecosystems services for clean air would need to be sustained as long as there are living things (including people) that need to breathe clean air.  For all practical purposes that means ‘forever ‘ with a limitless time.

Living species seem to last on average a few million years before becoming extinct though some may evolve into new species.  So if one maintains a natural extinction rate for species it is so low that for practical purposes we would need to manage the current environmental modules in order for all species to survive, effectively ‘forever’.

Sustaining the recycling of certain materials may only need to continue for as long asthose material types are needed technologically, and depending on the pace of technical change this could be for centuries or for decades.  It is risky to assume that resources are only needed for a short time however as society might find new uses for materials as technology, lifestyles and environmental awareness develop.

When it comes to trying to sustain habitat on a site-specific basis, very specific localised habitat or ecological community patches might need to persist for anywhere between thousands of years and just a few years – depending on the ecological system involved – provided all of the dependent species can access these habitat or ecological community types somewhere consistently and at adequate scale within their local ranges ‘forever’. 


The meanings of words gain their legitimacy from shared use, so in the final analysis there are no independently ‘correct’ meanings, of a sustained environment just meaning that are well understood by many people.  This has shifted the scope of many environmental studies scholars on truly answering the question “what is the correct definition of a sustained environment?” however  studies on the matter has greatly shown that with different environmental modules to what do different societies want environmental sustainability to mean, and what would be most desirable?” How we choose to answer this question depends critically on ones preference for treating environmental sustainability as either a practical goal or a utopian concept.

With issues like global warming, and climate change it is evident that more has to be done to achieve environmental sustainability other than simple maintenance. In a world where life-support systems and other conditions required for sustainability have been run down, environmental sustainability can only be achieved through a combination of both preventive and restorative actions.  So restoration is a key part of what needs to be done to achieve sustainability.  In most instances it is better to avoid destroying environmental values in the first place rather than relying on restoration as the primary strategy.  However, where damage has been done that could prevent valued elements of the physical environment being sustained, restoration should not be overlooked

Nonetheless the sentiments shared historian Pugh, (56)remains true to what a sustainable environment is. In his study of history he wrote that: “The twentieth century will be chiefly remembered by future generations not as an era of political conflicts or technical inventions, but as an age in which human society dared to think of the welfare of the whole human race as a practical objective.


The term sustainability in terms of environmental studies is an aspect that is multifaceted. It involves pillars such as political, ecological and economic stability. However, a sustainable environment in anthropological terms is much narrowed down and hence is based to understand ecological, social or cultural, economic and currently political under one scope of physical environments. Current environmental matters such as climatic change as well as global warming have been found to bring up sustainability through all types of physical environmental concepts. With that being highlighted the biggest and first question many as is what a sustainable environment is considering that what is question covers all modules of the environment which are natural, urban and rural environments.

This paper has been set to answer notable and significant questions on the matter of a sustainable environment. For example what is the physical environment? What makes the environment an issue a sustainability issue?Are there any connections between environmental sustainability and social or economic sustainability and many more other questions that clearly gives information on the matter. From what is gathered from this data collection a final analysis is made that suggests that it is true that a sustainable environment is not a singular ideology but a combination of sustainable factors working together to make the proper co relation of living and non-living beings in a region or the globe as a whole.

Work Cited

Environmental Sustainability: An Evaluation of World Bank Group Support. Washington (D.C.: World Bank, 2008. Print


Pugh, Cedric D. J. Sustainability, the Environment and Urbanization. London: Earthscan, 1996. Print

Vezzoli, Carlo, and Ezio Manzini. Design for Environmental Sustainability. Berlin: Springer, 2008. Print.