The global economy is now so large that society can no longer safely pretend it operates within a limitless ecosystem. Developing an economy that can be sustained within the finite biosphere requires new ways of thinking. Hernan Daly 2005
Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Mahatma Gandhi 1869 –1948
Sustainable development – Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Our Common Future (Brundtland Report) United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) 1987 You can read the original report online. Check it out. Its seminal stuff! http://www.un-documents.net/ocf-ov.htm#I.3
“ Meets the needs of the present.” “ Sustainable development requires meeting the basic needs of all and extending to all the opportunity to fulfill their aspirations for a better life. … an assurance that the poor get their fair share of the resources … Sustainable global development requires that those who are more affluent adopt life-styles within the planet's ecological means… ” It is about fairness
But lets be clear here. Fairness does not mean equality . Sustainable development is not about the equal distribution of resources. That is Communism. It is about an equitable (fair) distribution of resources . So we need to be clear what we mean by equity
Equity is linked to the idea of social justice and basically means a fair distribution of burdens and rewards and fair treatment of people. You could present the idea mathematically. If the input and output ratios of person A and B are equal then this is equitable. More examples… Person A’s actions generate huge rewards for person A and yet their actions has a negative burden on person B who receives no reward or compensation. Person A receives more reward for their actions than person B because of their gender or ethnicity.
“… without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” This is the concept of intergenerational equity . It is important to remember that future generation’s needs will be greater than ours because of population growth and development. It means that we inherit the Earth from previous generations and have an obligation to pass it on in a reasonable state to future generations. Our generation should not use more than our fair share of resources .
Future generations should not inherit a degraded Earth and without natural resources, biodiversity and functioning ecosystems and climate system and with high levels of pollution. Environmental quality should not be reduced. Intergenerational equity relates to the concept of stewardship . Managing of resources and ecosystems in a way which meets our needs (maximising the utility/satisfaction we derive from the resources we use) but ensures that future generations can also satisfy their needs because the environmental quality is maintained.
Environmental Quality can be measured using a range of indicators which basically quantify our impact on the environment. Habitat loss, species extinction, biodiversity, air pollution, land degradation, water pollution, resource use, waste disposal, energy use and efficiencies, transportation, housing, recycling.
Ecological footprint Our impact on the environment can also be measured using ecological footprint. It represents the amount of biologically productive land and sea area needed to regenerate the resources a human population consumes and to absorb and render harmless the corresponding waste.
You now need to find examples of projects and initiatives which could be described as sustainable development. Different scales and different places. You should find examples of sustainable development in each of your country case studies. World Challenge http://www.theworldchallenge.co.uk/html/home.html Green California http://www.green.ca.gov/default.htm