Our Common Future (Brundtland Report), 1987

In 1983, following a resolution by the General Assembly of the United Nations, the UN Commission on Sustainable Development was established with the aim to develop a '"global agenda for change". The Commission was chaired by Norway's Gro Harlem Brundtland, and in 1987 published a report - the Brundtland Report - introducing the fundamental theory of sustainable development.

"There has been a growing realization in national governments and multilateral institutions that it is impossible to separate economic development issues from environment issues; many forms of development erode the environmental resources upon which they must be based, and environmental degradation can undermine economic development. It is therefore futile to attempt to deal with environmental problems without a broader perspective that encompasses the factors underlying world poverty and international inequality. A world in which poverty is endemic will always be prone to ecological and other catastrophes. [...] Humanity has the ability to make development sustainable to ensure that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. [...]"

Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development: Our Common Future

Center for Ecoliteracy

Fritjof Capra, founder of the Center for Ecoliteracy, says that companies are sustainable to the extent that they honor and cooperate with the principles and processes by which nature sustains life.
Among the many principles that govern the natural world, those which provide the basis for understanding ecology have been identified. All are aspects of a single model: nature sustains life by creating and nurturing a community.

Systems thinking is a fundamental tool to understand relationships and context: thinking about things as a system focuses our attention on what is necessary to include among its parts in order for the whole to make sense, on the means by which its parts interact, and on how the system as a whole relates to other systems. (American Association for the Advancement of Science). Adopting this perspective has important implications for education.

Applying ecological principles

Systems thinking

Seven lessons for Leaders in systems change