Sustainable Development

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Sustainable Development

There are many definitions of sustainable development, including this landmark one which first appeared in 1987:

"Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

Sustainable development (SD) is a pattern of growth in which resource use aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for generations to come (sometimes taught as ELF-Environment, Local people, Future). The term was used by the Brundtland Commission which coined what has become the most often-quoted definition of sustainable development as development that "meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Sustainable development ties together concern for the carrying capacity of natural systems with the social challenges facing humanity. As early as the 1970s "sustainability" was employed to describe an economy "in equilibrium with basic ecological support systems. Ecologists have pointed to The Limits to Growth and presented the alternative of a "steady state economy in order to address environmental concerns.

The goal of sustainable development is to improve living standards and the quality of people’s lives, both now and for future generations. Environmental issues are an important piece of the development "puzzle."

Industrial and developing countries alike share environmental concerns. Both must strive to ensure that citizens in both cities and rural areas have clean air to breathe, safe drinking water, and adequate supplies of clean renewable energy. Agriculture and industry must make efficient and responsible use of the natural resources--land, soil, forests, rivers, oceans, mineral deposits--upon which they rely.

Sustainable Development from Ecological Perspectives

If one asks an ecologist and a security analyst to name those countries of concern, and although their points of departure differ, their lists would look remarkably similar: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Iraq, Pakistan and Somalia, among others. The connections between environmental issues and conflict are many and complex. Environmental factors themselves are rarely, if ever, the sole cause of violence. Nevertheless, natural resources and other environmental factors are linked to violent conflict in a variety of ways often obscured by more visible issues, such as ethnic tension and power politics.

The goal of sustainable development is to enable all people throughout the world to satisfy their basic needs and enjoy a better quality of life without compromising the quality of life of future generations.

From the ecological perspective, the quality of life depends on environ- mental quality. Therefore, retaining ecological integrity and the assimilative capacity of the natural environment is crucial for the functioning of the economic system.

There have been a number of ecological perspective definitions of Sustainable Development. These include the following:

“Ecologically sustainable development is a condition in which society’s use of renewable resources takes place without destruction of the resources or the environmental context which they require” (Solomon, 1990).

“Ecologically sustainable development means using, conserving and enhancing the community’s resources so that ecological processes, on which life depends, are maintained, and the total quality of life, now and in the future, can be increased” (Government of Australia, 1992).

“A system that is healthy and free from ‘distress syndrome’ if it is stable and sustainable, that is, if it is active and maintains its structure (organization) function (vigor) and autonomy over time and is resilient to stress” (Costanza, 1994).

A common thread of the ecologists’ definition is that a...
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