Sustainable development has been defined as balancing the fulfillment of human needs with the protection of the Natural environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but in the indefinite future. The term was used by the Brundtland Commission which coined what has become the most often-quoted definition of sustainable development as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs".
Natural resources are managed in a way that avoids irreversible damage to ecosystem structure and function, the loss of irreplaceable features or a reduction in ecosystem resilience. Environmental interests are considered alongside social and economic interests, so as to prevent the irreplaceable loss of natural features, function or processes and to ensure a long-term and dependable flow of benefits from the exploitation of renewable resources. Delivering such sustainable development will involve significant measures to recover ecosystem structure and function, where the flow of benefits is already reduced or impaired, or where ecosystem resilience is at risk.