Sustainable development is about human development where the use of natural resources aim to meet the needs of human beings while simultaneously ensuring that the environment is maintained. These needs must be met for present as well as for future generations. In other words, in order for human beings as well as the planet to survive, changes has to be made that will maintain the natural resources that is available. There is currently a trade-off between sustainability and economic growth due to an increase in globalisation. The demands of the global population far outweighs the available supply of natural resources thereby leading to mismanagement of resources e.g.: deforestation, air and water pollution, increase of slum dwellers etc. The aim of this essay is to discuss sustainable development by answering the following questions: “What is happening in the world today that the literature on sustainable development regards as unsustainable?” and “Is the South African response to the challenge of sustainable development, climate change and renewable energy appropriate? Or should more or less be done?” In order to answer the above mentioned questions the following literature was consulted: Just Transitions by Mark Swilling (Chapters 2, 3, 4 and 8).
Science for Global Sustainability by Clark et al.
Conceptualising Ecological Sustainability and Ecologically Sustainable Development in Ethical Terms: Issues and Challenges. by Hattingh. Sustainability and Sustainable Development: Historical and Conceptual Review. Environmental Impact Assessment Review by Desta Mebratu. Sustainable Development and the Crisis of Nature: On the Political Anatomy of an Oxymoron by Wolfgang Sachs. Understanding Sustainable Development by John Blewitt
Sustainable Development: Mapping Different Approaches by Hopwood et al. A new energy future for South Africa: The political ecology of South African renewable energy by Krupa et al.
1 PART 1
1.1 What is Unsustainable?
Natural resources is being depleted at a rapid rate in order to meet the constantly growing needs of mankind. The environment is therefore taking a heavy strain due to the fact that the needs/demands are outweighing the natural supply available. The environment is becoming incapable of stabilising itself naturally. The Brundtland Commission established the term “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (www.cmej.org.za). “Its conceptualisation of the sustainability challenge was adopted by many world leaders” (Clark, 2005). There are various human activities which are detrimental to the environment namely: Increase in population density.
Massive industrial growth
Inadequate food, and
Depletion of resources.
These activities result in the world becoming unsustainable due to the fact that there is no limitations placed on human development. According to Swilling et al (2012) there are 7 trends which negatively affect sustainable development. These are eco-system degradation, global warming, oil peak, inequality, urban poverty, food insecurity and material flows. The above mentioned trends threatens the sustainability of the environment. 1.1.1 Eco-system degradation
Eco-system degradation occurs when there is a threat towards the survival of the ecosystem through the over exploitation of natural resources. This takes place in different ways like when resources such as air, water and soil starts to deteriorate. The environment is declining rapidly and this places further challenges on the economic and social settings. As stated by Mebratu (1998), “The industrial revolution which began in England occurred as a result of vanishing trees. The mining sector substituted coal for the products and services required for human consumption, which the diminishing forests once supplied”.
Swilling et al (2012) states that the...
References: Hattingh, J. 2001. Conceptualising Ecological Sustainability and Ecologically Sustainable Development in Ethical Terms: Issues and Challenges. Annale. 2.
Mebratu, D. 1998. Sustainability and Sustainable Development: Historical and Conceptual Review. Environmental Impact Assessment Review. 18:493-520.
Sachs, W. 1999. Sustainable Development and the Crisis of Nature: On the Political Anatomy of an Oxymoron. In: Fischer, F. & Hajer, M.A. Living With Nature. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Blewitt, J. 2008. Understanding Sustainable Development.
Krupa, J., Burch, S. 2011. A new energy future for South Africa: The political ecology of South African renewable energy. Energy Policy, 39 (10), 6254-6261.
Swilling, M. 2010. Africa 2050: Growth, Resource Productivity and Decoupling. Paper presented at the 7th Meeting of the International Resource Panel, Sustainability Institute, Stellenbosch.
Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism. A National Framework for Sustainable Development in South Africa. 2008.
Department of Minerals and Energy. White Paper on Renewable Energy Policy. 2003.
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