hile its roots may be traced back decades and even centuries, the concept of sustainable development only became a prominent and perennial feature of world affairs in the late 1980s with the publication of the Brundtland Commission’s landmark 1987 report, Our Common Future. Although critics have assailed the concept for being an oxymoron, redundant or vague, it has nonetheless been widely endorsed by political, business and community leaders, and embraced by different cultures and socio-economic classes around the world. Proponents have represented sustainable development as an invaluable approach to designing unified solutions to linked challenges.
The concept of sustainable development acknowledges the urgency of global problems, recognized critical connections between them, and sought to devise a framework for thinking about how they could be jointly addressed. The core elements of this framework are often understood to be economics, environment and equity, and the goal is to balance the requirements of each in a way that satisfies the needs of the present generation without compromising the prospects of future generations. While there is general agreement on the value of the goals of sustainable development, demographic, economic and environmental trends present considerable challenges to particular efforts aimed at improving sustainability.
Creating more sustainable societies will require addressing challenges and will require involving multiple perspectives from the social and natural sciences, as well as political, community and business leaders. CUSA’s research on sustainability brings together academics and practitioners to consider a range of challenges related to improving the sustainability of water, energy, food, transportation and security systems.
To help foster dialogue between social and natural scientists on the challenges of sustainability in the 21st century, the Center for Unconventional Security convenes an annual seminar series during the Winter and Spring Quarters. CUSA brings a select group of scholars, researchers, experts, and business leaders to UC, Irvine to present a variety of perspectives on choices and challenges related to sustainability.