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sustainable development[sə‚stān·ə·bəl di′vel·əp·mənt]
sustainable developmenteconomic development which ensures that environmental depletion and degradation does not occur. The term ecodevelopment has a similar although narrower meaning. Used primarily in the 1970s to refer to problems of agricultural development in the THIRD WORLD where certain forms, such as exploitation of tropical rainforests, were seen as short-term measures with local and global consequences endangering that particular practice and other activities.
In the late 1980s the term came to have a wider application as concern with environmental issues grew. Criteria of sustainable development came to be applied to all forms of economic development which hitherto had ignored environmental effects which could undermine those very developments. So sustainable development would be seen as economic and social development which avoided pollution, conserved non-renewable energy forms, such as oil, and in general did not create future problems for which there were no easily available solutions.