Is the reconciliation between humanity and nature.
As Blaise Pascal wrote some centuries ago:
- "Man, for instance, is related to all he knows. He needs a place wherein to abide, time through which to live, motion in order to live, elements to compose him, warmth and food to nourish him, air to breathe. He sees light; he feels bodies; in short, he is in a dependent alliance with everything. To know man, then, it is necessary to know how it happens that he needs air to live, and, to know the air, we must know how it is thus related to the life of man, etc. Flame cannot exist without air; therefore, to understand the one, we must understand the other."
Sustainability is a concept both old and new.
Old because it is present in the history of humanity since its beginning.
Basic elements of the concept of sustainability can be found in many civilisations, philosophies, religions, faiths and cultures of the world (Sumerian, Mayan, Mediterranean, North American Indian, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Sufism, Gandhism, etc.). They have been looking for wisdom in managing the relationship between humanity and nature.
New because it is strongly affecting cultures and societies of a relatively recent time, having experienced the opportunities and the difficulties of the industrial era.
The concept of sustainability have appeared for the first time in the Paris Conference on Biosphere (1968). A long series of worldwide summits, international conferences followed, programmes, research, documents, declarations and treaties followed starting from the UN’s Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment (1972).
Anyhow, much more than a concrete prescription, sustainability seems to be a “regulative idea” in the sense of Kant, an idea that can give a general orientation such as prosperity or freedom, which has to be interpreted in a specific manner in every concrete situation.