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The Economic Impact Of Sustainable Development / By: Mia Bonds

There is a growing trend towards sustainable development with a generation entering the workforce who is more concerned about sustainability. According to Deloitte’s annual survey, around 75% of millennials want a job where they feel there is a sense of purpose towards people and the planet (Miguel, 2020). This sentiment was further highlighted during a student interview with Emily Donegan, who has worked on environmental policy projects. She believes that "...being sustainable is definitely something that our generation is more aware of, and there seems to be more people wanting to go into environmental careers."

Sustainable development is commonly defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (International Institute for Sustainable Development, 2023). Since this definition is fairly broad, Victoria Wilson, CEO of Naturally Urban Environmental, a company that manages sustainable development projects, provides some additional clarity. Wilson states that sustainable development is “limitless” and that “understanding energy demands and the overall cost saving to consumers of said product” is part of the sustainability process.

This increased interest in sustainable development can benefit not only the environment but also the economy. First, the overconsumption of natural resources caused by unsustainable development leads “to irreversible climate change and declined economic growth(Abou Zahr et al., 2019). Second, unsustainable development negatively impacts public health, lowering workforce potential and people's ability to contribute to their local economies (United Nations). With more focus being put on sustainable development, 60% of companies have implemented sustainability strategies, and by 2025, the renewable energy market is expected to be 215 trillion (Forbes, 2021).

Within the conversation of sustainable development, there is also a conversation around environmental justice. A joint report by the N.A.A.C.P. and the Clear Air Task Force states African-Americans are 75% more likely than other Americans to live in fence-line communities (NAACP, 2023), or areas situated near facilities that produce hazardous waste. In our interview, Wilson emphasized, “Sustainable development requires a holistic approach. This could be an opportunity for new green jobs, but we have to make sure we take an equitable approach.” Since sustainable development is an emerging field with limitless opportunities, Black and Brown communities that have historically been harmed by unsustainable development could have an opportunity to be investors in a new green economy.  


  • Forbes 


  • Victoria Wilson

  • Emily Donegan 


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