One of the key concepts of sustainable development is the interdependence of society, economy and the natural environment. Early human cultures were aware from the beginning of the carrying capacity of their environments, that their existence was dependent upon utilising the environment for resources, but respecting that there are limits to what nature can provide without being damaged. More recently, biology and ecology has revealed that all living things, including humans, depend upon each other, and are interconnected through natural cycles and ecological systems. Such cycles and systems are naturally and continually subjected to change that can harm or enhance the ability of different species to survive and flourish. Unfortunately, mankind, through unsustainable patterns of resource consumption, seems now to be increasing the rate of change and consequently the levels of stress experienced within the environment.
Interdependence exists across both time as well as space. Past, present and future are inextricably connected. We are directly linked back in time by the oldest members of the community and forward nearly a century by those born today. It is important to appreciate that both continuity and change have fundamental influences during the courses of our lives. Understanding the concept of interdependence will assist us in recognising our responsibilities for the future.