Read this article to learn about the Sustainable Development:- 1. Definition of Sustainable Development 2. Principles of Sustainable Development 3. Parameters of Sustainable Development 4. Challenges of Sustainable Development.
Definition of Sustainable Development:
The World Commission on Environment and Development (the Brundtland Commission) in its report to the United Nations in 1987 defined sustainable development as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generation to meet their own needs.
Agenda 21, adopted during the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) called Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil in 1992 is a blue print on how to make development socially, economically and environmentally sustainable.
Principles of Sustainable Development:
The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development fleshes out the definition by listing 18 principles of sustainability:
1. People are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature.
2. Development today must not undermine the development and environment needs of present and future generations.
3. Nations have the sovereign right to exploit their own resources but without causing environmental damage beyond their borders.
4. Nations shall develop international laws to provide compensation for damage that activities under their control cause to areas beyond their borders.
5. Nations shall use the precautionary approach to protect the environment. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, scientific uncertainty shall not be used to postpone cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.
6. In order to achieve sustainable development, environmental protection shall constitute an integral part of the development process and cannot be considered in isolation from it.
7. Eradicating poverty and reducing disparities in living standards in different parts of the world are essential to achieve sustainable development and to meet the needs of the majority of people.
8. Nations shall cooperate to conserve, protect and restore the health and integrity of the Earth’s ecosystem. The developed countries acknowledge the responsibility of sustainable development.
9. Nations should reduce and eliminate unsustainable patterns of production and consumption and promote appropriate demographic policies.
10. Environmental issues are best handled with the participation of all concerned citizens. Nations shall facilitate and encourage public awareness and participation by making environmental information widely available.
11. Nations shall enact effective environmental laws and develop national law regarding liability for the victims of pollution and other environmental damages. Where they have authority, nations shall assess the environmental impact of proposed activities that are likely to have a significant adverse impact.
12. Nations should cooperate to promote an open international economic system that will lead to economic growth and sustainable development in all countries. Environmental policies should not be used as an unjustifiable means of restricting international trade.
13. The polluter should, in principle, bear the cost of pollution.
14. Nations shall warn one another of natural disasters or activities that may have harmful transboundary impacts.
15. Sustainable development requires better scientific understanding of the problems. Nations should share knowledge and innovative technologies to achieve the goal of sustainability.
16. The full participation of women is essential to achieve sustainable development. The creativity, ideals and courage of youth and the knowledge of indigenous people are needed too. Nations should recognize and support the identity, culture and interests of indigenous people.
17. Warfare is inherently destructive of sustainable development. Nations shall respect international laws protecting the environment in times of armed conflict and shall cooperate in their further establishment.
18. Peace, development and environmental protection are interdependent and indivisible.
Parameters of Sustainable Development:
The goal of sustainable development is an outcome achieved through joint effort among several inter-related parameters and requiring coordination at both vertical and horizontal levels. There exists dynamic triangular relationship among three keys viz., Environmental, Economic and Social parameters.
The people centred at social parameter forms the broad base of triangle as active public participation holds an instrumental role. The interrelationship between population, environment and development is complex. Besides key factors, efficient manpower capacity building, institutional strengthening, including strong political will and effective implementation/monitoring mechanism play equally important role for successful outcome of sustainable development.
Following parameters may be considered:
1. Environmental Sustainability:
Environmental sustainability relates with maintenance of carrying capacity of natural resource base and life support systems. This emphasizes on area of conservation of biodiversity hot spots, increase in forest cover, watershed protection and adoption of holistic approach.
Equally important are reduction of environmental threats, environmental pollution and using environment friendly clean and green technologies to mitigate local to global level environmental problems such as biodiversity loss, climate change from an inter-generational equity perspective.
2. Economic Sustainability:
Economic sustainability provides important energy source like a battery to secure environmental and social sustainability. This emphasizes on promotion of economic self-sustenance of development projects through measures like adequate budgeting, budget transparency and financial incentive.
The focus area includes; alleviation of poverty, increase in per capita income, promotion of income generating activities including off farm employment and green micro-enterprises, establishment of mechanism of fair sharing of benefit and natural resource accounting.
3. Social Sustainability:
Social sustainability focuses on upgrading human environmental quality of life with fulfillment of basic needs and transforming man from most dangerous animal to most important creative resource. It emphasizes local communities to be well informed on sustainable ways of resource utilization.
It ensures active public participation at various level of development activity, collaborative efforts in conservation and development activities, improvement in public health, education and basic need, reduction of conflict among stakeholders on resource use. This will be derived through upgrading public environmental awareness, enhanced gender equity and self-confidence among local community with an emphasis on economically disadvantaged/marginalized groups,
4. Institutional Sustainability:
Plans and programmes without action represent futile exercise. Strict implementation and monitoring of relevant environmental policies, plans, laws, regulations and standards is indispensable to attain the goal of sustainable development. There should be adequate skilled and motivated manpower and strong institutional capacity to address environmental and social sustainability.
Focus area lies to achieve environmental quality of life such as reduced air, water, soil, noise pollution to accepted level of international standard and public confidence to get involved in environmental conservation activities. Institutional strengthening of project management should be efficient to deal with environmental problems having local, national, regional to global level significance and including legally binding world conventions and treaties.
Challenges of Sustainable Development:
Sustainable development that fulfills people’s needs of the present and future generations require radical improvements in eco-efficiency and fundamental renewal in technological systems. Since fundamental renewal system takes several decades to move from concept to market, it is imperative that we initiate renewing innovations in the shortest possible time to allow sufficient time to meet this challenge.
Improving eco-efficiency, which will remain an essential element of sustainable developments, is unlikely to suffice in the long run for two reasons:
The report on sustainable development in our common future identifies three leading interconnected principles viz. environmental efficiency, inter and intra-generational social justice and participation in decision making. Although the assumed growth of welfare includes rebound effects, this cannot be prolonged endlessly. Also eco-efficient growth will, in the long run, meet the earth limits.
Systems renewal therefore is a concept integrating technological, cultural and structural elements (Table 1).
Dimensions of Challenge:
Three interacting dimensions of challenge can be distinguished for achieving more sustainable patterns of development:
1. Interwovenness of Culture-Structure-Technology:
Improvements in eco-efficiency should help fulfill people’s needs better. Achieving this goal will require intensive interacting changes in culture (institutional), structure and technology.
a. Culture refers to justifying nature, conditions and volume of societal needs to be fulfilled (sufficiency).
b. Structure refers to the ability of the economic and institutional organisations to fulfill justified needs (effectiveness).
c. Technology provides the technical means to fulfill needs (efficiency).
2. Approaches: Optimisation, Improvement and Redesign-Renewal:
Improvements in eco-efficiency must fit with the time frame for decision making and H2O actions that are accepted in firms and governments. This reflects an approach that fosters transitions along three parallel tracks (Fig. 1).
(i) System optimization. It involves changes in operational processes through quality management, maintenance, auditing, efficiency drives etc. at time scales up to 5 years and with an expected effect on eco-efficiency ranging up to a factor of 1.5.
(ii) System improvements that leave fundamental structures and technologies unchanged but produce incremental changes through revision, reorganisation, redesign at time scales from 5 to 20 years and with an expected effect on eco-efficiency from a factor of 1.5 up to 5.
(iii) System renewal through jump-like changes that grow out of long term research and affect structure, culture and technology fundamentally at time scales of over 20 years (Fig. 2).
Such drastic renewal of technology demands redefinition of existing technology, development approaches and designing new ones at a scale that can increase eco-efficiency by a factor of 5 to 50.
3. Parties Involved:
The challenge of system renewal can only be realised through co-operation between relevant stake holders such as:
(i) Government bodies,
(ii) Private production parties,
(iii) NGO’s including consumers and local communities,
(iv) Science and technology.
These parties act in their own arena and keep accounts in their own currency (Table 2). To ensure broad participation in system renewal, stake holders should be able to recognise the possibility of profit.
Relevant aspects with respect to sustainable development of these parties include control, planning (government), exploration of opportunities (private parties), norm setting (NGO’s), analysis (science and technology). Interaction among these dimensions of challenge results in different characterizations of actions and involved actors as shown in Table 3.
In industrialised countries like Netherlands, system optimisation and system improvement are well covered by existing policies and policy instruments. The challenge is to initiate a process of systems renewal. The future generations concept implies the necessity to achieve systems renewal within 20 to 50 years. But the development of system renewal takes several decades to move from concept to market.
Initiating processes of systems renewal will entail several questions and dilemmas such as:
1. How to handle the uncertainties involved in long term trends and risks?
2. What new roles and forms of co-operation between market, science and technology, government and NGO’s will be demanded and how will they bring the specific strengths, weaknesses and responsibilities of these groups into account?
3. How to involve interested actors and stake holders?
4. How to bridge the drive of competition and the necessity of co-operation?
Today, all aspects of sustainability — physical, economic and social are at stake. Integration of different domains of knowledge (disciplines, sectors, institutions) proves to be essential challenge to obtain viable results and well supported development processes.