Sustainable Development Glossary – C

Join a Smart Word! We know how frustrating it can be to read an interesting article on sustainable development and not knowing certain terms. Finding a concise definition on internet can take some time. At the YMP we want to make your reading and learning easier with our Sustainable Development Glossary A-Z.


Is the term that you look for missing in the list below? Let us know in a comment at the end of this page. We will add that term for you!

cadmium – Cadmium is a heavy metal that accumulates in the environment and is found naturally in soils and rocks. It is soft and has a silvery color. It is mined and used in some industries to make things such as batteries, some pesticides, and some types of paint.


calcium – A mineral found in teeth, bones, and other body tissues. One of the principal elements making up the earth’s crust. The presence of calcium in water is a factor contributing to the formation of scale and insoluble soap curd which are a means of clearly identifying hard water.


canning or bottling – Canning and bottling have been popular methods of food preservation since the early 1800s. During canning and bottling, the food is boiled in the container to kill the bacteria. The container is then sealed to prevent any new bacteria from getting in. One drawback of canning and bottling is that it usually changes the taste, texture and nutritional content of food. We generally think of “cans” as being metal, but any sealable container can serve as a can. By packaging food, it can be protected from physical damage, chemical attack or environmental influences and contamination as well as tampering.


carbohydrate – One of the three main classes of foods and a source of energy. It is an organic compound consisting of a chain of carbon atoms to which hydrogen and oxygen are attached in a 2:1 ratio. Carbohydrates are mainly sugars and starches that the animals and humans break down into glucose (a simple sugar that the body can use to feed its cells).


carbon dioxide (CO2) – A colorless, odorless gas formed by the burning of carbon, or breathed out by animals from the lungs.


cataract – A disease which causes the eye lens or its capsule to become unclear. It can result in partially or severely decreased vision, but is usually removable and vision correctable by use of an implant.


cause – (1) An underlying principle. (2) The origin or source. (3) The immediate moving force. (4) Something that brings about a result.


cavity – Tooth decay, or dental caries, is a disease of the teeth resulting in damage to tooth structure.



“centrally produced” – Goods that are produced in a central location and then distributed to distant locations to be consumed.


CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) – A class of organic compounds containing carbon, chlorine and fluorine. These compounds are used as refrigerants in refrigerators and air conditioners. CFCs are not toxic, but are being phased out because they accumulate in the upper atmosphere, where sunlight changes them into chemicals that destroy the Earth’s protective ozone layer.


chemical preservation – Prescalculate – (determine, measure) To work something out by using numbers or one’s judgment.


chlorine – An abundant element which, when isolated, appears as a poisonous, greenish-yellow gas with a disagreeable odor. Chlorine is used widely to purify water, as a disinfectant and bleaching agent, and in the manufacture of many important compounds including chloroform and carbon tetrachloride. It is capable of combining with nearly all other elements. Chlorine is used in compounds such as bleach and chloroform, as well as in pesticides such as DDT.


chemical risks – The possibility of suffering harm as a result of exposure to hazardous or toxic chemicals.


chromosome – A structure of compact, intertwined molecules of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) found in the nucleus of cells which carry the cell’s genetic information. Humans normally have 46 chromosomes.


chronic – Lasting for a long time.


Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)- One of the three market mechanisms established by the Kyoto Protocol. The CDM is designed to promote sustainable development in developing countries and assist them in meeting their greenhouse gas emissions reduction commitments. It enables industrialized countries to invest in emission reduction projects in developing countries and to receive credits for reductions achieved, called Certified Emission Reductions (CERs).


climate – The general weather patterns occurring at a place or in a region over an extended period of time, including average and extreme conditions of temperature, humidity, precipitation, winds, and cloud cover.


coal – A black mineral found below the ground, used for burning to supply heat and to make coal gas and coal tar.


co-evolution – In biology, co-evolution is the mutual evolutionary influence between two species that become dependent on each other. Each party in a co-evolutionary relationship exerts selective pressures on the other, thereby affecting each other’s evolution. It is common in symbiotic associations, in insect-pollinated plants, etc.


cogeneration – Reusing the heat that is created when electricity is generated.


composting – Separating organic waste (like food) from garbage and mixing it with soil. After several months of processing this material can be used again as an organic soil fertilizer.


compression – (from the word “compress”, meaning to press something into a small space) Compressing or being compressed.


compressor – Machine that compresses air or other gases.


concentration – Partial water removal. The purpose of concentration and dehydration is to decrease the water content and make it difficult for microorganisms to grow. Like heating, it can change the appearance, nutrient quality and taste of food.


congestion – A condition that occurs when user demand on a transportation system (ie, roadway or transit route) exceeds the capacity of the system.



constitute – (1) Make up or form (a whole). (2) Be the components of (a whole).


consumer – A person or organization that buys goods or uses services.


consumerism – A term used to describe the effects of equating personal happiness with purchasing material possessions and consumption. It is often associated with criticisms of consumption.



consumption – Using up of something, such as food, energy, resources, etc.


contamination – The process of making a substance unclean, harmful, or impure by the addition of another substance. Drinking water supplies become contaminated if untreated sewage enters them.


contradiction – Broadly speaking, a contradiction is when two or more statements, ideas, or actions are seen as incompatible.


convenience – (1) The quality of being convenient. (2) Freedom from trouble or difficulty.


coral reef ecosystems – A tropical, shallow-water, marine ecosystem populated by corals whose external skeletons eventually form large reefs. Coral reefs also contain many other species; they are among the most diverse as well as most productive ecosystems on the planet.


corporate social responsibility (CSR) – There is not one single definition, but generally corporate social responsibility is meant as a company’s obligation to be accountable to all of its stakeholders (a stakeholder is someone who has an interest or a stake in an organisation, this could include shareholders, directors, management, employees, suppliers, government, regulators, non-governmental organisations and the community at large) in all the company’s operations and activities with the aim of achieving sustainable development not only in the economical dimension but also in the social and environmental dimensions, in a manner that meets or exceeds the ethical, legal, commercial and public expectations that society has of business.



“cradle-to-grave” – This term suggests following something from its birth to its death and disposal.


crude oil – Oil as it exists in its natural state.


cultural heritage – Those ways of thinking, ideas and things such as works of art, science, cultural achievements and folklore that have been passed on from earlier generations in a society.


cure – (remedy, restore, preserve, correct) (1) To make well. (2) To make healthy. (3) To bring about a recovery from. (4) To be free from something harmful.

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