SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT is the organizing principle for meeting human development goals while at the same time sustaining the ability of natural systems to provide the natural resources and ecosystem services upon which the economy and society depend. The desirable end result is a state of society where living conditions and resource use continue to meet human needs without undermining the integrity and stability of the natural systems.
While the modern concept of sustainable development is derived mostly from the 1987 Brundtland Report , it is also rooted in earlier ideas about sustainable forest management and twentieth century environmental concerns. As the concept developed, it has shifted to focus more on economic development , social development and environmental protection for future generations. It has been suggested that "the term 'sustainability' should be viewed as humanity's target goal of human-ecosystem equilibrium (homeostasis), while 'sustainable development' refers to the holistic approach and temporal processes that lead us to the end point of sustainability".
The concept of sustainable development has been—and still is—subject to criticism. What, exactly, is to be sustained in sustainable development? It has been argued that there is no such thing as a sustainable use of a non-renewable resource , since any positive rate of exploitation will eventually lead to the exhaustion of Earth's finite stock; this perspective renders the Industrial Revolution as a whole unsustainable. It has also been argued that the meaning of the concept has opportunistically been stretched from 'conservation management' to 'economic development', and that the Brundtland Report promoted nothing but a business as usual strategy for world development, with an ambiguous and insubstantial concept attached as a public relations slogan (see below ).
* 1 History
* 2 The
Sustainable Development Goals
* 3 Domains
* 3.1 Environmental (or Ecological)
* 3.1.1 Agriculture
* 3.3 Politics * 3.4 Culture
* 4 Themes
* 4.1 Progress
* 4.2 Measurement
* 5 Insubstantial stretching of the term * 6 See also * 7 Sources * 8 References * 9 Literature cited * 10 Further reading * 11 External links
Following the publication of
Rachel Carson 's
In 1980 the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
published a world conservation strategy that included one of the first
references to sustainable development as a global priority and
introduced the term "sustainable development". Two years later, the
— World Commission on Environment and Development , Our Common Future (1987)
Since the Brundtland Report, the concept of sustainable development has developed beyond the initial intergenerational framework to focus more on the goal of "socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable economic growth". In 1992, the UN Conference on Environment and Development published the Earth Charter , which outlines the building of a just, sustainable, and peaceful global society in the 21st century. The action plan Agenda 21 for sustainable development identified information, integration, and participation as key building blocks to help countries achieve development that recognises these interdependent pillars. It emphasises that in sustainable development everyone is a user and provider of information. It stresses the need to change from old sector-centered ways of doing business to new approaches that involve cross-sectoral co-ordination and the integration of environmental and social concerns into all development processes. Furthermore, Agenda 21 emphasises that broad public participation in decision making is a fundamental prerequisite for achieving sustainable development.
Under the principles of the
A 2013 study concluded that sustainability reporting should be reframed through the lens of four interconnected domains: ecology, economics, politics and culture.
THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS (SDGS)
In September 2015, the
Scheme of sustainable development: at the confluence of three constituent parts. (2006)
Sustainable development, or sustainability, has been described in terms of three spheres, dimensions, domains or pillars, i.e. the environment, the economy and society. The three-sphere framework was initially proposed by the economist René Passet in 1979. It has also been worded as "economic, environmental and social" or "ecology, economy and equity". This has been expanded by some authors to include a fourth pillar of culture, institutions or governance, or alternatively reconfigured as four domains of the social - ecology, economics, politics and culture , thus bringing economics back inside the social, and treating ecology as the intersection of the social and the natural.
ENVIRONMENTAL (OR ECOLOGICAL)
The ecological stability of human settlements is part of the relationship between humans and their natural, social and built environments . Also termed human ecology , this broadens the focus of sustainable development to include the domain of human health. Fundamental human needs such as the availability and quality of air, water, food and shelter are also the ecological foundations for sustainable development; addressing public health risk through investments in ecosystem services can be a powerful and transformative force for sustainable development which, in this sense, extends to all species.
Environmental sustainability concerns the natural environment and how it endures and remains diverse and productive. Since natural resources are derived from the environment, the state of air, water, and the climate are of particular concern. The IPCC Fifth Assessment Report outlines current knowledge about scientific, technical and socio-economic information concerning climate change , and lists options for adaptation and mitigation . Environmental sustainability requires society to design activities to meet human needs while preserving the life support systems of the planet. This, for example, entails using water sustainably, utilizing renewable energy, and sustainable material supplies (e.g. harvesting wood from forests at a rate that maintains the biomass and biodiversity).
An unsustainable situation occurs when natural capital (the sum total
of nature's resources) is used up faster than it can be replenished.
CONSUMPTION OF NON-RENEWABLE RESOURCES STATE OF ENVIRONMENT SUSTAINABILITY
More than nature's ability to replenish Environmental degradation Not sustainable
Equal to nature's ability to replenish Environmental equilibrium Steady state economy
Less than nature's ability to replenish Environmental renewal Environmentally sustainable
Integral elements for a sustainable development are research and innovation activities. A telling example is the European environmental research and innovation policy , which aims at defining and implementing a transformative agenda to greening the economy and the society as a whole so to achieve a truly sustainable development. Research and innovation in Europe is financially supported by the programme Horizon 2020 , which is also open to participation worldwide. A promising direction towards sustainable development is to design systems that are flexible and reversible.
So, one can try to appeal to the ethics of the situation by doing the right thing as an individual, but in the absence of any direct consequences, the individual will tend to do what is best for the person and not what is best for the common good of the public. Once again, this issue needs to be addressed. Because, left unaddressed, the development of the commonly owned property will become impossible to achieve in a sustainable way. So, this topic is central to the understanding of creating a sustainable situation from the management of the public resources that are used for personal use.
See also: Sustainable agriculture
Sustainable agriculture consists of environment friendly methods of farming that allow the production of crops or livestock without damage to human or natural systems. It involves preventing adverse effects to soil, water, biodiversity, surrounding or downstream resources—as well as to those working or living on the farm or in neighboring areas. The concept of sustainable agriculture extends intergenerationally, passing on a conserved or improved natural resource, biotic, and economic base rather than one which has been depleted or polluted. Elements of sustainable agriculture include permaculture , agroforestry , mixed farming , multiple cropping , and crop rotation .
Numerous sustainability standards and certification systems exist, including organic certification , Rainforest Alliance , Fair Trade , UTZ Certified , Bird Friendly, and the Common Code for the Coffee Community (4C).
It has been suggested that because of rural poverty and
overexploitation , environmental resources should be treated as
important economic assets, called natural capital . Economic
development has traditionally required a growth in the gross domestic
product . This model of unlimited personal and GDP growth may be over.
As early as the 1970s, the concept of sustainability was used to describe an economy "in equilibrium with basic ecological support systems". Scientists in many fields have highlighted The Limits to Growth , and economists have presented alternatives, for example a 'steady-state economy '; to address concerns over the impacts of expanding human development on the planet. In 1987 the economist Edward Barbier published the study The Concept of Sustainable Economic Development, where he recognised that goals of environmental conservation and economic development are not conflicting and can be reinforcing each other.
Gilbert Rist points out that the
The World Bank, a leading producer of environmental knowledge, continues to advocate the win-win prospects for economic growth and ecological stability even as its economists express their doubts. Herman Daly , an economist for the Bank from 1988 to 1994, writes:
When authors of WDR '92 were drafting the report, they called me asking for examples of "win-win" strategies in my work. What could I say? None exists in that pure form; there are trade-offs, not "win-wins." But they want to see a world of "win-wins" based on articles of faith, not fact. I wanted to contribute because WDRs are important in the Bank, task managers read to find philosophical justification for their latest round of projects. But they did not want to hear about how things really are, or what I find in my work..."
A meta review in 2002 looked at environmental and economic valuations and found a lack of "sustainability policies". A study in 2004 asked if we consume too much. A study concluded in 2007 that knowledge, manufactured and human capital (health and education) has not compensated for the degradation of natural capital in many parts of the world. It has been suggested that intergenerational equity can be incorporated into a sustainable development and decision making, as has become common in economic valuations of climate economics. A meta review in 2009 identified conditions for a strong case to act on climate change , and called for more work to fully account of the relevant economics and how it affects human welfare. According to free-market environmentalist John Baden "the improvement of environment quality depends on the market economy and the existence of legitimate and protected property rights". They enable the effective practice of personal responsibility and the development of mechanisms to protect the environment. The State can in this context "create conditions which encourage the people to save the environment".
Misum, Mistra Center for Sustainable Markets, based at Stockholm
The total environment includes not just the biosphere of earth, air, and water, but also human interactions with these things, with nature, and what humans have created as their surroundings.
As countries around the world continue to advance economically, they put a strain on the ability of the natural environment to absorb the high level of pollutants that are created as a part of this economic growth. Therefore, solutions need to be found so that the economies of the world can continue to grow, but not at the expense of the public good. In the world of economics the amount of environmental quality must be considered as limited in supply and therefore is treated as a scarce resource. This is a resource to be protected. One common way to analyze possible outcomes of policy decisions on the scarce resource is to do a cost-benefit analysis. This type of analysis contrasts different options of resource allocation and, based on an evaluation of the expected courses of action and the consequences of these actions, the optimal way to do so in the light of different policy goals can be elicited.
Benefit-cost analysis basically can look at several ways of solving a problem and then assigning the best route for a solution, based on the set of consequences that would result from the further development of the individual courses of action, and then choosing the course of action that results in the least amount of damage to the expected outcome for the environmental quality that remains after that development or process takes place. Further complicating this analysis are the interrelationships of the various parts of the environment that might be impacted by the chosen course of action. Sometimes it is almost impossible to predict the various outcomes of a course of action, due to the unexpected consequences and the amount of unknowns that are not accounted for in the benefit-cost analysis.
Main articles: Green manufacturing and Distributed manufacturing
One of the core concepts in sustainable development is that
technology can be used to assist people meet their developmental
needs. Technology to meet these sustainable development needs is often
referred to as appropriate technology , which is an ideological
movement (and its manifestations) originally articulated as
intermediate technology by the economist
E. F. Schumacher in his
Small is Beautiful
See also: Sustainable transport
Transportation is a large contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. It is said that one-third of all gasses produced are due to transportation. Motorized transport also releases exhaust fumes that contain particulate matter which is hazardous to human health and a contributor to climate change.
Sustainable transport has many social and economic benefits that can accelerate local sustainable development. According to a series of reports by the Low Emission Development Strategies Global Partnership (LEDS GP) , sustainable transport can help create jobs, improve commuter safety through investment in bicycle lanes and pedestrian pathways, make access to employment and social opportunities more affordable and efficient. It also offers a practical opportunity to save people's time and household income as well as government budgets, making investment in sustainable transport a 'win-win' opportunity.
Some western countries are making transportation more sustainable in both long-term and short-term implementations. An example is the modifications in available transportation in Freiburg, Germany . The city has implemented extensive methods of public transportation, cycling, and walking, along with large areas where cars are not allowed.
Since many western countries are highly automobile-orientated areas, the main transit that people use is personal vehicles. About 80% of their travel involves cars. Therefore, California, is one of the highest greenhouse gases emitters in the United States. The federal government has to come up with some plans to reduce the total number of vehicle trips in order to lower greenhouse gases emission. Such as:
* Improve public transit through the provision of larger coverage area in order to provide more mobility and accessibility, new technology to provide a more reliable and responsive public transportation network. * Encourage walking and biking through the provision of wider pedestrian pathway, bike share station in commercial downtown, locate parking lot far from the shopping center, limit on street parking, slower traffic lane in downtown area. * Increase the cost of car ownership and gas taxes through increased parking fees and tolls, encouraging people to drive more fuel efficient vehicles. This can produce a social equity problem, since lower income people usually drive older vehicles with lower fuel efficiency. Government can use the extra revenue collected from taxes and tolls to improve public transportation and benefit poor communities.
Other states and nations have built efforts to translate knowledge in behavioral economics into evidence-based sustainable transportation policies.
See also: Corporate sustainability
The most broadly accepted criterion for corporate sustainability constitutes a firm's efficient use of natural capital. This eco-efficiency is usually calculated as the economic value added by a firm in relation to its aggregated ecological impact. This idea has been popularised by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development ( WBCSD ) under the following definition: "Eco-efficiency is achieved by the delivery of competitively priced goods and services that satisfy human needs and bring quality of life, while progressively reducing ecological impacts and resource intensity throughout the life-cycle to a level at least in line with the earth's carrying capacity" (DeSimone and Popoff, 1997: 47).
Similar to the eco-efficiency concept but so far less explored is the second criterion for corporate sustainability. Socio-efficiency describes the relation between a firm's value added and its social impact. Whereas, it can be assumed that most corporate impacts on the environment are negative (apart from rare exceptions such as the planting of trees) this is not true for social impacts. These can be either positive (e.g. corporate giving, creation of employment) or negative (e.g. work accidents, mobbing of employees, human rights abuses). Depending on the type of impact socio-efficiency thus either tries to minimise negative social impacts (i.e. accidents per value added) or maximise positive social impacts (i.e. donations per value added) in relation to the value added.
Both eco-efficiency and socio-efficiency are concerned primarily with increasing economic sustainability. In this process they instrumentalise both natural and social capital aiming to benefit from win-win situations. However, as Dyllick and Hockerts point out the business case alone will not be sufficient to realise sustainable development. They point towards eco-effectiveness, socio-effectiveness, sufficiency, and eco-equity as four criteria that need to be met if sustainable development is to be reached.
CASI Global, New York "CSR ">
A study concluded that social indicators and, therefore, sustainable development indicators, are scientific constructs whose principal objective is to inform public policy-making. The International Institute for Sustainable Development has similarly developed a political policy framework, linked to a sustainability index for establishing measurable entities and metrics. The framework consists of six core areas, international trade and investment, economic policy, climate change and energy, measurement and assessment, natural resource management, and the role of communication technologies in sustainable development.
* Organization and governance * Law and justice * Communication and critique * Representation and negotiation * Security and accord * Dialogue and reconciliation * Ethics and accountability
This accords with the Brundtland Commission emphasis on development that is guided by human rights principles (see above).
Working with a different emphasis, some researchers and institutions
have pointed out that a fourth dimension should be added to the
dimensions of sustainable development, since the triple-bottom-line
dimensions of economic, environmental and social do not seem to be
enough to reflect the complexity of contemporary society. In this
Agenda 21 for culture and the United Cities and Local
Governments (UCLG) Executive Bureau lead the preparation of the policy
statement "Culture: Fourth Pillar of Sustainable Development", passed
on 17 November 2010, in the framework of the World Summit of Local and
Regional Leaders – 3rd World Congress of UCLG, held in Mexico City.
This document inaugurates a new perspective and points to the relation
between culture and sustainable development through a dual approach:
developing a solid cultural policy and advocating a cultural dimension
in all public policies. The Circles of
Other organizations have also supported the idea of a fourth domain
of sustainable development. The Network of Excellence "Sustainable
Development in a Diverse World", sponsored by the
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Ecological footprint and
In 2007 a report for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency stated: "While much discussion and effort has gone into sustainability indicators, none of the resulting systems clearly tells us whether our society is sustainable. At best, they can tell us that we are heading in the wrong direction, or that our current activities are not sustainable. More often, they simply draw our attention to the existence of problems, doing little to tell us the origin of those problems and nothing to tell us how to solve them." Nevertheless, a majority of authors assume that a set of well defined and harmonised indicators is the only way to make sustainability tangible. Those indicators are expected to be identified and adjusted through empirical observations (trial and error).
The most common critiques are related to issues like data quality, comparability, objective function and the necessary resources. However a more general criticism is coming from the project management community: How can a sustainable development be achieved at global level if we cannot monitor it in any single project?
The Cuban-born researcher and entrepreneur Sonia Bueno suggests an alternative approach that is based upon the integral, long-term cost-benefit relationship as a measure and monitoring tool for the sustainability of every project, activity or enterprise. Furthermore, this concept aims to be a practical guideline towards sustainable development following the principle of conservation and increment of value rather than restricting the consumption of resources.
Reasonable qualifications of sustainability are seen U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). This design incorporates some ecological, economic, and social elements. The goals presented by LEED design goals are sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmospheric emission reduction, material and resources efficiency, and indoor environmental quality. Although amount of structures for sustainability development is many, these qualification has become a standard for sustainable building.
Recent research efforts created also the SDEWES Index to benchmark the performance of cities across aspects that are related to energy, water and environment systems. The SDEWES Index consists of 7 dimensions, 35 indicators, and close to 20 sub-indicators. It is currently applied to 58 cities.
The sustainable development debate is based on the assumption that societies need to manage three types of capital (economic, social, and natural), which may be non-substitutable and whose consumption might be irreversible. Leading ecological economist and steady-state theorist Herman Daly , for example, points to the fact that natural capital can not necessarily be substituted by economic capital. While it is possible that we can find ways to replace some natural resources, it is much more unlikely that they will ever be able to replace eco-system services, such as the protection provided by the ozone layer, or the climate stabilizing function of the Amazonian forest. In fact natural capital, social capital and economic capital are often complementarities. A further obstacle to substitutability lies also in the multi-functionality of many natural resources. Forests, for example, not only provide the raw material for paper (which can be substituted quite easily), but they also maintain biodiversity, regulate water flow, and absorb CO2.
Another problem of natural and social capital deterioration lies in their partial irreversibility. The loss of biodiversity , for example, is often definitive. The same can be true for cultural diversity. For example, with globalisation advancing quickly the number of indigenous languages is dropping at alarming rates. Moreover, the depletion of natural and social capital may have non-linear consequences. Consumption of natural and social capital may have no observable impact until a certain threshold is reached. A lake can, for example, absorb nutrients for a long time while actually increasing its productivity. However, once a certain level of algae is reached lack of oxygen causes the lake's ecosystem to break down suddenly.
Before flue-gas desulfurization was installed, the air-polluting
emissions from this power plant in
If the degradation of natural and social capital has such important consequence the question arises why action is not taken more systematically to alleviate it. Cohen and Winn point to four types of market failure as possible explanations: First, while the benefits of natural or social capital depletion can usually be privatised, the costs are often externalised (i.e. they are borne not by the party responsible but by society in general). Second, natural capital is often undervalued by society since we are not fully aware of the real cost of the depletion of natural capital. Information asymmetry is a third reason—often the link between cause and effect is obscured, making it difficult for actors to make informed choices. Cohen and Winn close with the realization that contrary to economic theory many firms are not perfect optimisers. They postulate that firms often do not optimise resource allocation because they are caught in a "business as usual" mentality.
Main page: Education for sustainable development
Education must be revisited in light of a renewed vision of sustainable human and social development that is both equitable and viable. This vision of sustainability must take into consideration the social, environmental and economic dimensions of human development and the various ways in which these relate to education: ‘An empowering education is one that builds the human resources we need to be productive, to continue to learn, to solve problems, to be creative, and to live together and with nature in peace and harmony. When nations ensure that such an education is accessible to all throughout their lives, a quiet revolution is set in motion: education becomes the engine of sustainable development and the key to a better world.’
Higher education in sustainability across education streams including engineering, finance, supply chain and operations is gaining weight-age. Multiple institutes including Wharton, Columbia, CASI Global New York offer certifications in Sustainability. Corporate's prefer employees certified in sustainability. Reference https://www.wharton.upenn.edu/ http://www.columbia.edu/ http://casiglobal.us/
INSUBSTANTIAL STRETCHING OF THE TERM
It has been argued that since the 1960s, the concept of sustainable development has changed from 'conservation management' to 'economic development', whereby the original meaning of the concept has been stretched somewhat. :48–54
In the 1960s, the international community realised that many African
countries needed national plans to safeguard wildlife habitats, and
that rural areas had to confront the limits imposed by soil, climate
and water availability. This was a strategy of conservation
management. In the 70s, however, the focus shifted to the broader
issues of the provisioning of basic human needs, community
participation as well as appropriate technology use throughout the
developing countries (and not just in Africa). This was a strategy of
economic development, and the strategy was carried even further by the
Brundtland Commission 's report on
Our Common Future
But shifting the focus of sustainable development from conservation to development has had the imperceptible effect of stretching the original forest management term of sustainable yield from the use of renewable resources only (like forestry), to now also accounting for the use of non-renewable resources (like minerals ). :13 This stretching of the term has been questioned. Thus, environmental economist Kerry Turner has argued that literally, there can be no such thing as overall 'sustainable development' in an industrialised world economy that remains heavily dependent on the extraction of Earth's finite stock of exhaustible mineral resources:
“ It makes no sense to talk about the sustainable use of a non-renewable resource (even with substantial recycling effort and use rates). Any positive rate of exploitation will eventually lead to exhaustion of the finite stock. :13 ”
In effect, it has been argued that the
One critic has argued that the Brundtland Commission promoted nothing but a business as usual strategy for world development, with the ambiguous and insubstantial concept of 'sustainable development' attached as a public relations slogan: :94–99 The report on Our Common Future was largely the result of a political bargaining process involving many special interest groups, all put together to create a common appeal of political acceptability across borders. After World War II, the notion of 'development' had been established in the West to imply the projection of the American model of society onto the rest of the world. In the 1970s and 1980s, this notion was broadened somewhat to also imply human rights, basic human needs and finally, ecological issues. The emphasis of the report was on helping poor nations out of poverty and meeting the basic needs of their growing populations—as usual. This issue demanded more economic growth, also in the rich countries, who would then import more goods from the poor countries to help them out—as usual. When the discussion switched to global ecological limits to growth , the obvious dilemma was left aside by calling for economic growth with improved resource efficiency, or what was termed 'a change in the quality of growth'. However, most countries in the West had experienced such improved resource efficiency since the early 20th century already and as usual; only, this improvement had been more than offset by continuing industrial expansion, to the effect that world resource consumption was now higher than ever before—and these two historical trends were completely ignored in the report. Taken together, the policy of perpetual economic growth for the entire planet remained virtually intact. Since the publication of the report, the ambiguous and insubstantial slogan of 'sustainable development' has marched on worldwide, the critic concludes. :94–99
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