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Sustainability Definition

What is sustainability?

Sustainability is defined as the principle that seeks to meet the needs of current generations without compromising future generations by ensuring a balance between three fundamental pillars: protecting the environment, development and social welfare, and nations’ economic growth

The concept was introduced for the first time in the Brundtland Report, published in 1978 for the United Nations. This report analyzed the different economic development and globalization policies and their impact on the environment, looking to find possible solutions to the problems associated with industrialization and population growth. 

Sustainability entails the awareness that resources from the environment are not inexhaustible, so preserving them and using them in a rational way is essential to ensure the well-being of future generations. 

The current climate crisis requires a change in consumption habits at the individual level, as well as the transformation of mission and vision at the corporate and institutional levels; the aim is a circular economy that’s inclusive and considers social and environmental factors. 

How the concept of sustainability has developed over time?

After the introduction of the term sustainability in the Brundtland Report, the 2010 Millennium Summit established the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which suggest a route to reduce poverty and hunger, improve health and education systems, achieve gender equality, and reach environmental sustainability. The commitment that was made with this plan was to achieve the objectives by 2015. 

This commitment later evolved into the 2030 Agenda, an action plan developed by the United Nations to achieve sustainable development at a global level for the benefit of the planet, people, and progress. With this program, more than 190 countries worked on 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the economic, social, and environmental framework. These objectives deserve the involvement of individuals, companies, and administrations from all over the world to achieve them. 

At Ferrovial, we’ve developed our own objectives associated with the SDGs, and this is our 2030 sustainability strategy.

What are the pillars of sustainability?

The common goals approved by the United Nations in the 2030 Agenda are aimed at protecting the planet while ensuring the well-being and protection of people. 

Sustainability is centered on three pillars:

  1. Environmental sustainability: focuses on the conservation of biodiversity without affecting social and economic progress. Preserving water, reducing waste, reusing resources, limiting and eliminating the use of plastics, saving energy, promoting sustainable mobility, supporting regenerative agriculture with zero carbon emissions, and using renewable energies are some of the principles behind it.
  2. Economic sustainability: the ability to manage resources and generate profitability responsibly. Economic sustainability aims to promote economic progress and the generation and distribution of wealth without affecting natural resources. 
  3. Social sustainability: its purpose is to strengthen the stability and unity of social groups. This pillar seeks to ensure quality of life, access to decent housing, free education and resources, provide communities with tools, credits, and training for community self-management, and so on. 

At Ferrovial, we are interested in contributing to sustainable development, addressing the challenges facing the planet so that the next generations can be promised a better future. Here are the most important sustainability indices that have received international recognition – and where you can find us. 

What are the most sustainable cities in the world?

In 2022, the sustainable cities index was developed with the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, ranking the 100 most sustainable cities in the world. This report is based on the three pillars of sustainability: the social component (quality of life, health, work), the economic component (economic health of the country), and the environmental component (pollution levels, recycling initiatives). In this regard, the leading cities are:

  • Oslo
  • Stockholm
  • Tokyo
  • Copenhagen
  • Berlin
  • London
  • Seattle
  • Paris
  • San Francisco
  • Amsterdam

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