Sustainable Development: Concepts and Methods for Its Application in Urban and Environmental Planning

Beniamino Murgante1, Giuseppe Borruso2, and Alessandra Lapucci3
1 University of Basilicata, Viale dell’Ateneo Lucano, 10 – 85100 Potenza, Italy
2 University of Trieste, P.le Europa, 1 – 34127 Trieste, Italy
3 University of Pisa, Via Diotisalvi, 2 -56126 Pisa, Italy

1 Sustainability: From Principles to Evaluation Methods
The idea of sustainable development may appear quite vague, fuzzy and evasive
(Pearce et al. 1989). In fact, whereas sustainability is related to a status of maintenance
and conservation of the existing conditions, both in space and time and is
referred to the capacity to guarantee a support without causing decay, the concept
of development implies, instead, an alteration and a transformation of actual
status, then a condition of instability.
This semantic conflict induces to an idea of both improvement and preservation:
in substance, the effective aim of a sustainable development is the possibility
to guarantee a better life quality for an enduring period of time.
The Bruntland report (1987) systematized the definition of environmental
sustainability even on a political level:

“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present
without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own
needs. It contains within it two key concepts: the concept of needs, in particular
the essential needs of the world’s poor, to which overriding priority
should be given; and the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology
and social organization on the environment’s ability to meet present and
future needs”.
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