Introduction to Sustainable Development by Gilles Boulanger
INTRODUCTION What is Sustainable Development ?: It is the notion of finding ways to encourage economic growth and social inclusion, while simultaneously protecting the environment.
INTRODUCTION Sustainable Development as defined by the World Commission on Environment and Development: The WCED states that sustainable development “ meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs .”
HISTORY 1950 – 1960: Environmentalists recognize that human activity, in the name of economic growth and progress, is having an adverse impact on the environment.
HISTORY 1970 – 1980: A 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment demonstrated that a large portion of the international community was convinced that the environment and development should be approached as a singular issue in order to protect our long-term interests. In 1987, the actual term “sustainable development” emerged in common use in governmental circles. The World Commission on Environment and Development issued its famed Brundtland Report.
HISTORY 1980 – 1990: The 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development brought the idea of sustainable development a great deal of additional attention. The Conference was a groundbreaking event, and at this point, it was clear that global leaders truly recognized the imperative of finding a way towards truly sustainable development.
HISTORY THE LAST 20 YEARS: The search for solutions to attain Sustainable Development continues today. Governments, non-governmental organizations and individual citizens continue to look for ways to meet the needs of the planet’s population without jeopardizing the well-being of future generations and the earth itself. Progress comes in fits and starts. There is often resistance to the changes proposed by sustainable development advocates. However, there is an unwavering commitment in many circles to find the right balance between growth and environmental protection.
PATHS The road to attain sustainable development takes on many paths, which include . . .
PATHS Clean energy climate change Global-poverty Natural resource management Production and consumption Public health Social Inclusion Sustainable transport
PATHS Clean energy climate change: How to meet the energy needs of a growing and advancing world population without doing long-term damage to the planet and its citizens. Sustainable development experts believe it will be possible to turn our backs on traditional “dirty” energy in favor of a better way.
PATHS Global-poverty: The link between sustainable development and solving poverty was made clear at the turn of this century when nearly two hundred nations worked together to develop a sustainable development and poverty reduction plan at the United Nations Millennium Summit. They jointly established eight distinct goals which are referred to the “Millennium Development Goals”
PATHS Natural resource management: Finding the best ways to manage and conserve our planet’s natural resources is the fundamental interest of sustainable development thinking. The most commonly recognized definition of SD makes that very clear. The Brundtland Report, clearly states that development is sustainable when it “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirown needs.”
PATHS Production and consumption: Only a combination of technological advances and improved awareness can lead to truly sustainable development. The notion that we can somehow persuade the world to consume and produce dramatically less is nearly laughable. The idea that new technology will allow us to continue in our current patterns is equally unrealistic. A merger of those two gains, however, might be able to maintain our planet for the future while providing for today.
PATHS Public health: Pollution has been directly linked to countless cases of cancer and other fatal health concerns. Pesticides are another serious health issue. Climate shifts spurred by global warming, some warn, could lead to widespread outbreaks of diseases like malaria. Sustainable development clearly has in interest in public health and the abatement of unnecessary human suffering linked to our development tendencies. The link between environmental damage and health problems is strong.
PATHS Social Inclusion: there is a massive population that remains locked out of the “good life”. While some consume hundreds of dollars worth of energy, goods and services every single day, nearly a billion human beings function on less than a dollar every day. They die young, lack adequate shelter, suffer from malnutrition, and lack even rudimentary health care. Sustainable development argues that these individuals should have a seat at the table, too. It maintains that those of us who do live the “good life” should find a way to extend its benefits to those who are currently excluded.
PATHS Sustainable transport: The automobile will undoubtedly go down as one of the most influential inventions in history. Unfortunately, our global “car culture” has a massive downside. We’re guzzling liquefied fossil fuels at a jaw-dropping rate, spewing CO2 and other pollutants into the atmosphere in the process. We crush the environment to construct roadways. Proponents of Sustainable Development don’t necessarily advocate the end of the car. Instead, most take the perspective of Marcia Lowe of the Worldwatch Institute who argues that we should concentrate on “putting the car back into its useful place as a servant”.
CONCLUSION To read the detailed description of the content of this presentation, download the eBook “A Primer on Sustainable Development” on my blog at http://www.project1849.com/sdebook/ All contents copyright, 2009