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"We define environmental stewardship as the responsibility for environmental quality shared by all those whose actions affect the environment. This sense of responsibility is a value that can be reflected through the choices of individuals, companies, communities, and government organizations, and shaped by unique environmental, social, and economic interests. It is also a behavior, one demonstrated through continuous improvement of environmental performance, and a commitment to efficient use of natural resources, protection of ecosystems, and, where applicable, ensuring a baseline of compliance with environmental requirements.

Environmental stewardship is not a new phenomenon. In fact, it has deep and diverse roots in our country. From farming to hunting, from conservation practices to spiritual beliefs, one can find an appreciation for natural resources and the valuable services they provide in many diverse settings. As we explore how to become a more sustainable society, it is clear that environmental stewardship can help preserve natural resources and achieve sustainable outcomes." (Source: EPA, 2005)

As we consider our roles as individuals and community members, it may be helpful to think of six natural resource systems and desired outcomes for each one:

  • Air: Sustain clean and healthy air
  • Ecosystems: Protect and restore ecosystems functions, goods, and services
  • Energy: Generate clean energy and use it efficiently
  • Land: Support ecologically sensitive land management and development
  • Materials: Consume less, reduce waste, and shift to environmentally preferable materials
  • Water: Sustain water resources to ensure quality and availability for desired uses

We must take care not to degrade the resources that we do use, and whenever possible, restore and rehabilitate resources to their natural conditions.

As you decide how you will engage, we challenge you to consider the many types of stewardship, including everyday choices and civic action.


The ISNW uses a working definition of sustainability that is adapted from the Federal Register (2009): To pursue sustainability is to create and maintain the conditions under which humans and the rest of nature can co-exist in productive harmony within our human-ecological system, that permit fulfilling the social and economic requirements of present and future generations. The ISNW recognizes the natural world’s intrinsic value, as well as the fact that human prosperity and environmental quality are inextricably intertwined. Accordingly, we are committed to contributing, as individuals and as an institution, to a thriving human-ecological system.

While this website is focused on the environmental dimension of sustainability, JMU is also a signatory of the Campus Compact's 30th Anniversary Statement, which illustrates JMU's engagement with the three interconnected dimensions of sustainability. JMU's 2018 Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) report contains highlights of much of JMU's sustainability progress across the environmental, social, and economic dimensions of sustainability, as used by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, which organizes STARS. Information on JMU’s programs and plans related to the social and economic dimensions of sustainability can be found on numerous JMU websites. A few examples are


The ISNW's interpretation of sustainable development is taken from the United Nations (source:

  • Sustainable development has been defined as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

  • Sustainable development calls for concerted efforts towards building an inclusive, sustainable and resilient future for people and planet.

  • For sustainable development to be achieved, it is crucial to harmonize three core elements: economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection. These elements are interconnected and all are crucial for the well-being of individuals and societies.

  • Eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions is an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. To this end, there must be promotion of sustainable, inclusive and equitable economic growth, creating greater opportunities for all, reducing inequalities, raising basic standards of living, fostering equitable social developmentand inclusion, and promoting integrated and sustainable management of natural resources and ecosystems.

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