Defining Sustainability

Sustainable development is often defined as meeting the needs of the present without jeopardizing the opportunities of future generations to meet their needs. Another interpretation of this concept emerged from the public engagement process. The public wants to create a strong region that will provide good jobs, healthy communities, and quality lifestyle choices for themselves, their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Thus a sustainable region is one where people can look forward to maintaining or improving a high quality of life for all residents. Developing sustainably means developing and maintaining a strong economy, and it also means supporting the physical amenities of a healthy community—clean water and air, attractive and accessible recreation, supportive communities with good educational opportunities, safe streets and neighborhoods, and effective transportation services.

OneSTL provides relevant guidance based on the interests, strengths and capacities of varying audiences.

The foundation for any sustainable region is its geographic location and available natural resources. St. Louis grew and prospered because it is located on major rivers, which provide inexpensive transportation and abundant water. Our communities and our society—our social life—are centrally situated in this rich environment with good soil and adequate rainfall, enabling the production of food for local consumption and world markets. Interconnected Components of Sustainability
Figure 3: Interconnected Components of Sustainability
Just as people in the region all breathe the same air, drink the same water, and inhabit the landscape shaped by our rivers, so too our social and political relationships and our local governments have been formed within this environment. Our built environment supports these social networks. Transportation services across the region enable workers to move from home to work and to other services and opportunities. Sewer and water infrastructure as well as electric and natural gas services are integral to the built environment, and together this built environment provides the framework within which the economy develops.

Our economy is thus situated within both the environment and society. In Figure 3, the economy is embedded within society and social life is embedded within the environment. An effective plan for a sustainable future considers all three components as equally important in creating a prosperous, healthy, and vibrant future.