100+ inspirational and powerful quotes on Sustainability (clustered by topic)20 min read

100+ inspirational and powerful quotes on Sustainability (clustered by topic)20 min read

Quotes are undoubtedly an element that encompasses profound (and sometimes true) concepts in a few words.

Often a quote is worth more than a speech.
And it makes memorable words that sometimes go down in history.

Below we collect quotes regarding (click on the topic below to jump further down to that category):


“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.”
– Gandhi

“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.
– Robert Swan, Author and the first person to walk to both poles.

“Without environmental sustainability, economic stability and social cohesion cannot be achieved.”
– Phil Harding, Archaeologist

“Making peace with nature is the defining task of the 21st century.”
– António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations

“If you understand it from an ecological or sustainability perspective, agriculture is the primary way we meet most of our needs, and it’s the greatest form of human intervention on our environment.”
– David Holmgren, Australian Designer

“The earth will not continue to offer its harvest, except with faithful stewardship. We cannot say we love the land and then take steps to destroy it for use by future generations.”
– Pope John Paul II, 264th Catholic Pope

“If we pollute the air, water and soil that keep us alive and well, and destroy the biodiversity that allows natural systems to function, no amount of money will save us.”
– David Suzuki, Broadcaster, academic, and environmental activist

“I hope to use my celebrity to motivate people and contribute to moving our global society back from the brink. I am surprised environment is not at the top of the agenda. What is more important than good and clean air?”
– Don Cheadle, Actor & UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador

“When the last tree is cut, the last fish is caught, the last river is polluted and when to breathe the air is sickening, you will realize, too late, that wealth is not in bank accounts and that you can’t eat money.”
– Alanis Obomsawin, American-Canadian filmmaker

“This supersedes political parties, race, creed, religion, it doesn’t matter. If we do not solve the environment, we’re all damned.”
– Elon Musk, Founder of Tesla

“Almost everybody is a potential solar voter. I’d be hard-pressed to find a single issue, including motherhood and apple pie, that polls higher than the desire to see more solar…it’s really something that unites this country at a particularly divided time.”
– Adam Browning, Executive Director, Vote Solar

“Preservation of our environment is not a liberal or conservative challenge, it’s common sense.”
– Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the United States

“One of the first conditions of happiness is that the link between man and nature shall not be broken”
– Leo Tolstoy, Author

“People should have values, so by extension, a company should. And one of the things you do is give back. So how do you give back? We give back through our work in the environment, in running the company on renewable energy. We give back in job creation.”
– Tim Cook, CEO of Apple

“Since nature has the most sustainable ecosystem and since ultimately agriculture comes out of nature, our standard for a sustainable world should be nature’s own ecosystem.”
– Wes Jackson, Author & Co-Founder of the Land Institute

“The single biggest threat to our planet is the destruction of habitat and along the way loss of precious wildlife. We need to reach a balance where people, habitat, and wildlife can co-exist – if we don’t everyone loses…one day.”
– Steve Irwin, Australian wildlife expert & environmentalist

“Far and away, the greatest threat to the ocean, and thus to ourselves, is ignorance. But we can do something about that.”
– Sylvia Earle, American marine biologist

“Plans to protect air and water, wilderness and wildlife are in fact plans to protect man”
– Stewart Udall, Former United States Secretary of the Inferior

“Essentially, all life depends upon the soil… There can be no life without soil and no soil without life; they have evolved together.”
– Dr. Charles E. Kellogg, Former USDA Chief of USDA’s Bureau of Chemistry and Soils

“Cheap fashion is really far from that. It may be cheap in terms of the financial cost, but very expensive when it comes to the environment and the cost of human life.”
– Sass Brown, Author & fashion educator

“Here we are, arguably the most intelligent being that ever walked planet Earth, with this extraordinary brain, yet we’re destroying the only home we have.”
– Jane Goodall, English primatologist

“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.”
– Chris Maser, Scientist & Author

“At its core, the issue of a clean environment is a matter of public health.”
– Gina McCarthy, Administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

“The activist is not the man who says the river is dirty. The activist is the man who cleans up the river.”
– Ross Perot, Business magnate, billionaire, politician, and philanthropist

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“The brands that will be big in the future will be those that tap into the social changes that are taking place.”
– Sir Michael Perry, Chairman of Centrica PLC

“Corporate culture matters. How management chooses to treat its people impacts everything – for better or for worse.”
– Simon Sinek, American author and inspirational speaker

“The concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR) has long been used as an effective lens through which to examine the actions business can take toward ensuring mutual long-term well-being and sustainability.”
– Klaus Schwab, German engineer, economist and founder of the World Economic Forum.

“Successful people have a social responsibility to make the world a better place and not just take from it.”
– Carrie Underwood, American country singer

“It’s not just about checking the box on corporate social responsibility. It’s about hitting our bottom line.”
– Peggy Johnson, CEO at Magic Leap

“It is extremely important to me that the social and environmental issues associated with the production of fashion clothing are addressed.”
– Bonnie Wright, Actress

“All company bosses want a policy on corporate social responsibility. The positive effect is hard to quantify, but the negative consequences of a disaster are enormous.”
– Noreena Hertz, English academic, economist and author

“We all have a social responsibility and have to be mindful of what we do and say.”
– Aja Brown, American politician

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Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)

“Effective inclusion leadership needs to start at the top of the organization.”
– Gena Cox, CEO of Feels Human, LLC

“We can no longer speak of sustainable development apart from intergenerational solidarity.”
– Pope Francis, 266th Catholic Pope

“We all want to have something to offer. This is how we belong. It’s how we feel included. So if we want to include everyone, then we have to help everyone develop their talents and use their gifts for the good of the community. That’s what inclusion means – everyone is a contributor.”
– Melinda Gates, American philanthropist & former GM at Microsoft

“Diversity and inclusion, which are the real grounds for creativity, must remain at the center of what we do.”
– Marco Bizzarri, CEO of Gucci

“Decent, affordable housing should be a basic right for everybody in this country. The reason is simple: without stable shelter, everything else falls apart.”
– Matthew Desmond, Princeton University

“The most accurate way to gauge DE&I progress is to understand the reactions of the stakeholders who matter the most: employees.”
– Gena Cox, Ph.D., Author

“We all have the ability to promote a culture of acceptance and inclusion — and that is something I believe every leader has a responsibility to do. It starts with having a dialogue until we are all comfortable and no longer have the fear of saying the wrong thing.”
– Inga Beale, former CEO of Lloyd’s of London

“Too many communities whose residents are predominantly of color, Indigenous, or low-income continue to suffer from disproportionately high pollution levels and the resulting adverse health and environmental impacts. We must do better.”
– Michael Regan, U.S. EPA Administrator

“A world full of empowered women isn’t one where men are marginalized. It’s a world where everyone thrives.”
– Purnima Mane, President and CEO of Pathfinder International

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Climate Change

“Climate change is the single greatest threat to a sustainable future but, at the same time, addressing the climate challenge presents a golden opportunity to promote prosperity, security and a brighter future for all.”
– Ban Ki-Moon, Former Secretary-General of the UN

“You can wreck one rainforest then move, drain one area of resources and move onto another, but climate change is global.”
– Sir David Attenborough, English broadcaster, biologist, natural historian and author

“We are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it.”
– Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States

“It is not enough for us to talk about freedom, climate change, health, security and the environment. We need widely accepted communication tools that show progress in these fields”
– José Manuel Barroso, Former President of European Commission

“We must be honest with ourselves about these realities. Climate Change is real, massive, and deserves a kind of peaceful mobilization on par with one that we would mount against an offending nation.”
– Mark Ruffalo, Actor

“Climate change is severely impacting the health of our planet and all of its inhabitants, and we must transition to a clean energy economy that does not rely on fossil fuels.”
– Leonardo DiCaprio, Actor

“Climate change is happening, humans are causing it, and I think this is perhaps the most serious environmental issue facing us.”
– Bill Nye, American Engineer

“Climate change knows no borders. It will not stop before the Pacific Islands and the whole of the international community here has to shoulder a responsibility to bring about sustainable development.”
– Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany

“The world is reaching the tipping point beyond which climate change may become irreversible. If this happens, we risk denying present and future generations the right to a healthy and sustainable planet – the whole of humanity stands to lose.”
– Kofi Annan, Former Secretary-General of the UN

“Twenty-five years ago people could be excused for not knowing much, or doing much, about climate change. Today we have no excuse.”
– Desmond Tutu, Former Archbishop of Cape Town

“Future generations should enjoy clean air, sufficient fresh water, and energy without risking damage to the planet.”
– Queen Elizabeth II

“We are living on this planet as if we had another one to go to.”
– Terry Swearingen, Nurse & Winner of Goldman Environmental Prize in 1997

“The movement to address climate change is about something deeper than justice, it’s about solidarity. Human solidarity.”
– Bill McKibben, American environmentalist

“The activist is not the man who says the river is dirty. The activist is the man who cleans up the river.”
– Ross Perot, Business magnate, billionaire, politician and philanthropist

“Climate change is not only a threat, it is, above all, an opportunity to create a healthier, greener, and cleaner planet which will benefit all of us. We must seize this opportunity.”
– Greta Thunberg, Swedish Activist

“Climate change increasingly poses one of the biggest long-term threats to investments.”
– Christiana Figueres, Costa Rican diplomat

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“We must now agree on a binding review mechanism under international law so that this century can credibly be called a century of decarbonization.”
– Angela Merkel, Former Chancellor of Germany

“Electric cars are coal-powered cars. Their carbon emissions can be worse than gasoline-powered cars.”
– Vinod Khosla, Indian-American businessman and venture capitalist

“Renewable energy is an essential part of our strategy of decarbonization, decentralization, as well as digitalization of energy.”
– Isabelle Kocher, Former CEO of Engie

“We’re running the most dangerous experiment in history right now, which is to see how much carbon dioxide the atmosphere… can handle before there is an environmental catastrophe.”
– Elon Musk, Founder of Tesla

“We have to slow down the emissions of carbon dioxide and methane from coal burning, oil and eventually natural gas… And the best ways to do that are energy efficiency and a switch to renewables.”
– Ramez Naam, American technologist and science fiction writer

“Even if we didn’t have greenhouse gases, were going to have to move away from fossil fuels, as we’re going to run out. They’re finite, whereas solar and wind are infinite.”
– Ted Turner, Founder of CNN

“Climate change is not just about carbon dioxide levels and melting polar ice caps. It is about our public health and protecting our Earth for future generations.”
– Mike Quigley, Politician

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Circular Economy (reduce reuse recycle)

“We all know that it is not possible to sustain the present level of consumption in developed countries and wealthier sectors of society, where the habit of wasting and discarding has reached unprecedented levels.”
– Pope Francis, 266th Catholic Pope

“When we speak of sustainable use, consideration must always be given to each ecosystem’s regenerative ability in its different areas and aspects.”
– Pope Francis, 266th Catholic Pope

“Going back to a simpler life based on living by sufficiency rather than excess is not a step backward.”
– Yvon Chouinard, Founder of Patagonia

“Refuse what you do not need; reduce what you do need; reuse what you consume; recycle what you cannot refuse, reduce, or reuse; and rot (compost) the rest.”
– Bea Johnson, Author

“Reducing our levels of consumption will not be a sacrifice but a bonus if we simply redefine the meaning of the word ‘success.'”
– David Wann, Author

“If it can’t be reduced, reused, repaired, rebuilt, refurbished, refinished, resold, recycled, or composted, then it should be restricted, designed or removed from production.”
– Pete Seeger, American folk singer and social activist.

“The time is past when humankind thought it could selfishly draw on exhaustible resources. We know now the world is not a commodity.”
– François Hollande, Former President of the French Republic

“I sometimes think that all that we are doing today for a better environment, for the reduction of global warming, focusing on the composition of materials, the removal of harmful ones, on landfills and the control of polluting emissions, is in some ways like the ideal departure towards a world where we go back to regenerating, reusing, repairing, recovering, in other words to using the gifts of mother earth according to the natural rule, and this is something within everyone’s reach, a conviction that has perhaps been influenced by the first part of my blissful life, spent in the countryside.”
– Brunello Cucinelli, Italian stylist and entrepreneur

“We must conserve what we still have, we must restore what we’ve lost and we must grow what we need to live without degrading the planet for future generations to come.”
– Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon

“When you put the whole picture together, recycling is the right thing to do.”
– Pam Shoemaker, Author

“Recycling, packaging, businesses are changing all of those things because that’s what consumers want.”
– Jerry Greenfield, Co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream

“If it can’t be reduced, reused, repaired, rebuilt, refurbished, refinished, resold, recycled, or composted, then it should be restricted, designed or removed from production.”
– Pete Seeger, Folk Singer & Social Activist

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Green energy

“Technological breakthroughs in energy storage will make renewable power cheap enough to use in more places and accelerate the move to electric cars and other electric transportation systems.”
– Brian Deese, Director of the National Economic Council

“I’ve been very passionate about renewable energy for many years, particularly solar energy and its capacity to bring abundant clean, sustainable energy to millions around the globe.”
– Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group

“Solar power, wind power, the way forward is to collaborate with nature – it’s the only way we are going to get to the other end of the 21st century.”
– Bjork, Icelandic Singer & Songwriter

“Renewable energy is a clear winner when it comes to boosting the economy and creating jobs.”
– Tom Steyer, Founder of NextGen America

“A transition to clean energy is about making an investment in our future.”
– Gloria Reuben, Actress and environmental activist

“Wind and other clean, renewable energy will help end our reliance on fossil fuels and combat the severe threat that climate change poses to humans and wildlife alike.”
– Frances Beinecke, Former President of the Natural Resources Defense Council

“The future is green energy, sustainability, and renewable energy.”
– Arnold Schwarzenegger, Actor, film producer, businessman, retired professional bodybuilder and politician

“We have to use cars much more efficiently. We have to look at alternative technologies of cars such as biofuels or, even more importantly, electric cars.”
– Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency

“Solar power is going to be absolutely essential to meeting growing energy demands while staving off climate change.”
– Ramez Naam, Author of the Nexus Trilogy

“Renewable energy could reduce emissions but also create jobs and improve public health.”
– Paul Polman, Dutch businessman

“We know we’ll run out of dead dinosaurs to mine for fuel and have to use sustainable energy eventually, so why not go renewable now and avoid increasing risk of climate catastrophe?”
– Elon Musk, Founder of Tesla

“People often don’t realize that energy efficiency is such a huge jobs creator.”
– Kateri Callahan, President of Alliance to Save Energy

“America needs to be able to be energy-independent, and the electric vehicle, the battery technology is one way of getting there.”
– Jennifer Granholm, United States Secretary of Energy

“I hold a vision of this blue green planet, safe and in balance. At the end of the Fossil Fuel Era, we are emerging to a new reality. We are ready to make the next leap – as momentous as abolishing slavery or giving women the vote.”
– Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada

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More sustainability quotes

“Because we don’t think about future generations, they will never forget us.
– Henrik Tikkanen, Author

“Rapid, sudden growth isn’t rational and it isn’t sustainable. It creates problems. Instead, we work towards a gracious, stable and harmonious rate of growth”
– Brunello Cucinelli, Italian stylist and entrepreneur

“Sustainability is here to stay, or we may not be”
– Niall FitzGerald, Irish businessman

“The first rule of sustainability is to align with natural forces, or at least not try to defy them.”
– Paul Hawken, Environmentalist, entrepreneur, author, economist, and activist

“Sustainability is no longer about doing less harm. It’s about doing more good.”
– Jochen Zeitz, CEO of Harley-Davidson

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”
– George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright

“Sustainability is about ecology, economy, and equity.”
– Ralph Bicknese, Architect

“To do good, you actually have to do something.”
– Yvon Chouinard, Founder of Patagonia

“Sustainability is no longer about doing less harm. It’s about doing more good.”
– Jochen Zeitz, President and CEO of Harley-Davidson

“Many business leaders are seeing the relationship between long-term success and sustainability, and that’s very heartening.”
– Jacqueline Novogratz, CEO of Acumen

“Surround yourself with people trying to shape the future.”
– Cathie Wood, CEO of Ark Invest

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world, it is the only thing that ever has.”
– Margaret Mead, Anthropologist

“Our biggest challenge in this new century is to take an idea that seems abstract – sustainable development – and turn it into a reality for all the world’s people”
– Kofi Annan, Former United Nations Secretary-General

“The goal is that at the conclusion of our life, each of us can look back on the path we took and say not that we contributed to the creation of our small part but that we worked together, building on our relative strengths to create a greater, more sustainable whole.”
– Antony Bugg-Levine, Co-Head of Community Impact at Lafayette Square

“Businesses have a profound opportunity to help build a more sustainable future, one born of our common concern for the planet we share.”
– Tim Cook, CEO of Apple

“As consumers we have so much power to change the world by just being careful in what we buy.”
– Emma Watson, Actress

“What is the use of a house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?”
– Henry David Thoreau, Philosopher

“Sustainable development requires human ingenuity. People are the most important resource”
– Dan Shechtman, Professor

“I like to think of an inclusive sustainability of material and spiritual values, a concrete place where the environment, the economy, culture and the spirit live together.”
– Brunello Cucinelli, Italian stylist and entrepreneur

“The thing that I champion is sustainability. My terror is that suddenly we see it as a luxury, not an essential. That’s a danger.”
– Kevin McCloud, Designer & Writer

“Global sustainability is now the only avenue to future inclusive progress that can deliver the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris climate agreement.”
– Johan Rockström, Swedish Scientist

“The time for seeking global solutions is running out. We can find suitable solutions only if we act together and in agreement.”
– Pope Francis, 266th Catholic Pope

“Since most corporate competitors have the same problems with sustainability and social reputation, it’s worth trying to solve them together.”
– Simon Mainwaring, Branding expert, Author & CEO of We First

“Sustainability is a part of our ‘rise’ philosophy. You cannot rise if you take more from the community than you put back.”
Anand Mahindra, Indian businessman and the chairman of Mahindra Group,

“No matter how complex global problems may seem, it is we ourselves who have given rise to them. They cannot be beyond our power to resolve.”
– Daisaku Ikeda, Japanese Philosopher

“We know markets can have a transformative effect on society and can build a better world, and investor focus on sustainability issues has never been greater.”
– Michael Wilkins, Managing Director of Sustainable Finance at S&P Global Ratings

“Sustainability, ensuring the future of life on Earth, is an infinite game, the endless expression of generosity on behalf of all.”
– Paul Hawken, Environmentalist, entrepreneur, author, economist, and activist

“We’ve been given a warning by science and a wake-up call by nature; it is up to us now to heed them.”
– Bill McKibben, Co-founder of 350.org

“I don’t like to talk about sustainability, because sometimes I see green buildings that don’t appear any different from those in the past.”
– Ma Yansong, Chinese architect and founder of MAD architects

“Sustainability is no longer about doing less harm. It’s about doing more good.”
– Jochen Zeitz, President, CEO and chairman of the board of Harley-Davidson

“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.”
– Edward Everett Hale, American author

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Featured image by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

Giuseppe Perrone

Author and initiator of TwentyNow. ESG Manager in a tech unicorn after a 10 year experience in a big4 consulting firm. Travel lover, (former) basketball player, (current) outdoor basketball fighter. I love also mountain biking and running. I had the idea of creating TwentyNow to bring out the latest ESG trends and sustainability initiatives on a global scale, implemented by companies or bring forward by individuals.