[Image: Venn diagram illustrating the path to sustainable development. Courtesy of the Sustainability Hub at Cornell University]
Common use of the term "sustainability" began with the 1987 publication of the World Commission on Environment and Development report, Our Common Future. Also known as the Brundtland Report, this document defined sustainable development as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." This concept of sustainability encompasses ideas, aspirations and values that continue to inspire public and private organizations to become better stewards of the environment and that promote positive economic growth and social objectives. The principles of sustainability can stimulate technological innovation, advance competitiveness, and improve our quality of life.
from the Environmental Protection Agency website