Sustainability is the endurance (assured continuity) of a condition, system or process. Any condition or process can be either sustainable or unsustainable depending upon its likelihood of continuous progression. Such sustainability could be positive or negative, as seen by the beholder.
In the sense of sustainable development, its best expression may be the continuous improvement of economic, environmental and social conditions in a balanced pattern buttressed by the respect, protection fulfillment of human rights. In its worst expression, sustainable development could mean the persistence of a current pattern of development that does not uphold the balance of those three dimensions with their stabilizing human rights obligations.
In ecology, sustainability is the condition by which biological systems remain diverse, productive and reproductive. Enduring and healthy wetlands,forests and fisheries are examples of sustainable biological systems.
Despite the common usage of the use of the term sustainability, the possibility that human societies will achieve environmental sustainability has been, and continues to be, questioned, especially in the light of environmental degradation, climate change, overconsumption, population growth and the economic-development organizations’ and regional development organizations’ pursuit of unbridled economic growth as the primary measure of development progress and sustainability in such a closed system as the planet earth. This trend and analytical method become particularly problematic when they function out of balance with the other (ecological and social) dimensions of “sustainable development,” simultaneously upheld by the normative, human rights framework.
Other terms and practices involving the term and/or concept of sustainability can be so diverse and adverse as “debt sustainability,” or “sustainable genocide” and “sustainable genocide prevention.” When French Ecology Minister Ségolène Royal suggested on Canal+ television in June 2015 that consumers stop eating Nutella, because it is made with palm oil. The manufacturer Ferrero responded that it uses 100% segregated palm oil certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). However, RSPO standards do not prohibit deforestation and peatland destruction, raising questions at to the meaning and use of the term “sustainability” in that context.