Environmental sustainability and sustainable development

Environmental sustainability can be defined as meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It can also include maintaining the factors and practices that contribute to the quality of the environment. Sustainability is threatened by human activities such as pollution and degradation or over-exploitation of natural resources.

Fundamental to meeting sustainability objectives is the concept of sustainable development.  Tasmania's Resource Management and Planning System (RMPS) defines sustainable development as:

Managing the use, development and protection of natural and physical resources in a way, or at a rate, which enables people and communities to provide for their social, economic and cultural well-being and for their health and safety while:

    1. sustaining the potential of natural and physical resources to meet the reasonably foreseeable needs of future generations

    2. safeguarding the life-supporting capacity of air, water, soil and ecosystems

    3. avoiding, remedying or mitigating any adverse effects of activities on the environment.

The objectives of the RMPS are:

  • to promote the sustainable development of natural and physical resources and the maintenance of ecological processes and genetic diversity

  • to provide for the fair, orderly and sustainable use and development of air, land and water

  • to encourage public involvement in resource management and planning

  • to facilitate economic development in accordance with the objectives set out above

  • to promote the sharing of responsibility for resource management and planning between the different spheres of government, the community and industry in the State.

The Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994 (EMPCA), administered by the EPA, is an integral part of the RMPS.

The EPA seeks to further the objectives of sustainability and sustainable development by

  • considering the implications of development proposals, and applying conditions to prevent environmental harm;

  • supporting and promoting activities which are recognised as essential for the sustainability of our society into the future, including energy efficiency, waste minimisation and recycling, the circular economy, resource efficiency, education and innovation​​; and

  • offering other incentives, such as the EPA Sustainability Awards.​