Students on the mall for Earth Fest 2016

Social Sustainability

A socially sustainable society is one in which all members have equal rights, all share equitably in societal benefits, and all participate equally in the decision-making process. Additionally, a society is unsustainable if it consumes resources faster than they can be renewed naturally, discharges more waste than natural systems can assimilate without degrading, or depends upon distant sources for its most basic requirements. As with environmental sustainability, social sustainability principles can be applied to societies of any size. For example, one of sustainability’s grand challenges is to simultaneously reduce consumption in the developed world while raising the standard of living of the developing world – we need to be responsible global citizens by making informed choices every day within our homes and communities.