Sustainability is the capacity to endure through renewal, maintenance, and sustenance, in contrast to durability, the capacity to endure through unchanging resistance to change. For humans in the social ecosystems, sustainability is the long-term maintenance of responsibility, which has environmental, economic, and social dimensions, and encompasses the concept of stewardship, the responsible management of resources. In ecology, sustainability describes how biological systems remain diverse, robust, and productive over time, a necessary precondition for the well-being of humans and other organisms. Long-lived and healthy wetlands and forests are examples of sustainable biological systems. At ODI, sustainability means refurbishing of used electronics and technologies, recycling of electronics and technologies and using refurbished electronics and technologies in retraining the most vulnerable .
Robust, diverse, productive ecosystems and environments provide vital resources and processes (known as “ecosystem services”). There are two major ways of managing human impact on ecosystem services. One approach is environmental management; this approach is based largely on information gained from educated professionals in earth science, environmental science, and conservation biology. Another approach is management of consumption of resources, which is based largely on information gained from concern professionals in economics.