What is Sustainable Development?

3.1 based on 16 ratings

Updated on Nov 13, 2012


Life Science


High School

Difficulty of Project



Less than $50

Safety Issues


Material Availability

Most materials can be purchased at any local office supply retailer.

Approximate Time Required to Complete the Project

One week to one month


The student will investigate a type of sustainable development project to further develop their understanding of the concept of sustainability.

  • Sustainable development-related organization’s information
  • Display board
  • Photographs
  • Items related to a sustainable project (for example: tools used in sustainable farming or an example of an alternative energy source)


Sustainability and sustainable development seem to be the new buzz terms used to discuss solving environmental issues. However, creating a sustainable world is actually a complex idea that involves much more than just saving trees and wildlife. Sustainable development involves improving how humans live without permanently damaging the Earth, a task that brings with it unique challenges.

Research Questions
  • What is sustainable development?
  • Is sustainable development just about saving the environment, or other are there other factors involved such as human welfare, construction, politics or economics?
  • What are different types of activities or projects that fall under sustainable development?
  • What are some national sustainable development projects?
  • Are there any local sustainable development projects?
  • What are some international sustainable development projects?
  • What are the benefits of sustainable development?
  • What are problems and challenges associated with sustainable development?
  • What are some organizations that are involved in sustainable development?
Terms, Concepts and Questions to Start Background Research
  • Sustainable agriculture – using organic and innovative farming methods that keeps the farm land and surrounding environment healthy and productive indefinitely
  • Alternative or renewable energy – using a non-petroleum or coal derived energy source that will never run out
  • Green building – using renewable resources and recycled materials in construction projects
  • Greenhouse gasses – gasses that trap heat on the Earth’s surface
  • Urban farming – the trend of growing your own food or eating only locally grown food

  • Learn what sustainable development is and create your own definition for the term.
  • Find several examples of sustainable development.
  • Choose one sustainable development project that most interests you to research more in depth. Use the library and websites to do your research. If the project is local, visit the location and interview staff and/volunteers. Learn about the goals and methods use in the project.
  • Create a display of the information you learned along with photographs depicting key points. If you visited a location and have tools, or other items from the local project display those as well. Give information that people can relate to – examples of how they can participate or make sustainable choices.


UDSA: Sustainable Development http://www.usda.gov/oce/sustainable/index.htm

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development: Sustainable Development http://www.oecd.org/topic/0,3373,en_2649_37425_1_1_1_1_37425,00.html

United Nations: Division for Sustainable Development http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/index.shtml

International Institute for Sustainable Development http://www.iisd.org/sd/

Learning for Sustainability http://learningforsustainability.net/susdev/

Jennifer L. Tuso has over 10 years experience developing and teaching science enrichment programs to all ages, from preschoolers to high school students. She holds a degree in Environmental Studies with a minor in Biology from CSUS. As a freelance writer, she enjoys sharing her teaching experiences, mishaps and adventures.

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