Increasing human population and resulting consumption place extreme pressures on natural resources and the environment. Future generations may be at risk of losing this vast source of economic security, quality of life, and environmental stability if we don't find sustainable development methods. NIFA aims to incorporate sustainability concepts and principles into the policies, practices, and programs of the Land-Grant University System so that everyone may benefit from sound sustainable development in the United States.
Sustainable development is based on the premise that economic vitality, environmental resilience, and quality of life are closely linked through the global ecosystem. In an economic context--sometimes referred to as the "triple bottom line"--sustainable development is a science-based process focused on human commerce and its social and environmental consequences. This kind of development also looks at the costs of development in terms of environmental degradation, provides ways to avoid such costs, and offers technology for restoring and maintaining this economic capacity for future generations.
The innovation of scientists and educators in the Land-Grant University System results in discovery of new research methods and applications, educational content, and extension programs. They look at interactions between natural resources and the environment and human economic activity in the areas of agriculture, forestry, and communities. Issues may include rural/urban interface, land use, sprawl, biodiversity, and housing. New communication technologies help build networks and effectively deliver information and education about sustainability--including decision-support tools and certification programs. The vision is an educated and informed public--including young people--that is willing adopt new practices and apply appropriate technology that meets present economic, environmental, and social needs without compromising resources for future generations.