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The three pillars of sustainable development

The three pillars of sustainable development


Environment, economy and society are the three components of sustainable development.

A holistic vision leading to a new model of society, taking into account the limits imposed by the depletion of natural resources, the need to reduce and eradicate inequalities, and the need to question the ways we generate value.


The three pillars of sustainable development


Although not included in the original definition in the 1987 Brundtland Report, the social aspect of sustainable development became an essential component at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. It’s now impossible to conceive of development without addressing social disparities, reducing inequalities and correcting the distribution of wealth.
In the face of various challenges, but particularly environmental ones, the disproportions between countries in the global north and global south are colossal – the most vulnerable populations are also those who contribute the least to greenhouse gas emissions.
Social equity – or everyone’s right to access basic resources and services to meet their essential needs, including education, healthcare, employment, housing, food and mobility – is the vital ingredient when it comes to development that leaves no one behind and benefits everyone.


The idea of sustainable development is in itself a threat to existing economic models. Far from advocating degrowth, sustainable development seeks to strike a balance between producing value and saving resources at the same time.
Where societal and environmental aspects overlap, the economic pillar of sustainable development must allow sound management of human activities, without damaging the environment, and seek to reduce extreme poverty while enabling as many people as possible to engage in economic activity that pays a decent wage.


Though often confused with the entire concept of sustainable development, it’s important to appreciate the environmental pillar is only one aspect of it. But unlike the other two pillars, it sets out some non-negotiable limits: those of the planet’s finite resources.
The environmental pillar seeks to provide a framework for human activity to ensure it takes place not just in harmony with ecosystems but, above all, with a view to at least preserving or even restoring them.
Based on the premise that there can be no development of the human species without addressing environmental issues, this is also the pillar that’s most forward-thinking. What we do today mustn’t impair the ability of future generations to live and work in similar conditions.

Comment agir pour le développement durable ? 

How to promote sustainable development?

From small gestures to major changes, Klorane Botanical Foundation sheds light on the role that each of us can play in our common future.