1907, in reference to a legal objection, from sustainable + -ity. General sense (in economics, agriculture, ecology) by 1972.
Sustainability is defined as a requirement of our generation to manage the resource base such that the average quality of life that we ensure ourselves can potentially be shared by all future generations. ... Development is sustainable if it involves a non-decreasing average quality of life. [Geir B. Asheim, "Sustainability," The World Bank, 1994]