Sustainable Development Glossary – W

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!

waste – (rubbish, garbage, useless, worthless) Any material that is perceived to be of no further use and is permanently discarded.


waste export – The waste a society, region or country sends to another place for disposal, recycling, etc.


waste management systems – (1) Techniques and processes for managing wastes. (2) A comprehensive, integrated approach towards the achievement and maintenance of acceptable environmental quality and the support of sustainable development. It involves preparing policies, determining environmental standards, fixing emission rates, enforcing regulations, monitoring air, water, and soil quality, noise emissions, and offering advice to government, industry, land developers, planners, and the public.


waste separation – Grouping similar wastes (glass, paper, metals, etc.) together for recycling or disposal.


waste stream – The continuous flow of all components of solid waste, especially the municipal solid waste produced by homes and businesses.


waste treatment plant – Facilities used to treat waste to make it less harmful to humans and the environment.


wastewater – (1) A general term for the effluent from a residential or municipal sewage collection system. (2) Any water used in a system or process and is no longer considered useful.


waste quantity per capita – The amount of waste a society generates compared to its population.


water stress- Water stress occurs when the demand for water exceeds the available amount during a certain period or when poor quality restricts its use. Water stress causes deterioration of fresh water resources in terms of quantity (aquifer over-exploitation, dry rivers, etc.) and quality (eutrophication, organic matter pollution, saline intrusion, etc.).



water table – The upper limit of groundwater found in soil or bedrock. The water table forms the boundary between the zone of (water) saturation and the zone of aeration.


watt – Unit of electrical power.


wetland – An area of land that is covered with water for at least part of the year, has characteristic soil and at least one of a number of distinct vegetation types swamps, marshes, salt marshes (and other coastal wetlands), and bogs. Wetland have important functions including purifying the water that recharges aquifers, providing food and habitat for many different species, and providing temporary stopover sites for migrating waterfowl.


wind energy – The energy of the wind used to provide power to a machine or create electrical energy.


WHO – World Health Organization: a United Nations agency to coordinate international health activities and to help governments improve health services.


World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) – The World Summit on Sustainable Development was held in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2002. It was a mega-conference similar to that held in Rio a decade earlier, where global leaders negotiated 30 global environmental protection targets.


WTO – World Trade Organization; established in 1995 as the successor to GATT (the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs). The three main purposes of the WTO are to help trade flow as freely as possible, to serve as a forum for trade negotiations, and to provide for settlement of disputes.


WWF – World Wide Fund for Nature, a nature conservation organization (known as World Wildlife Fund in certain countries).

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