Saturday, 26 August 2017


                                           -Dr. S. Vijay Kumar 

           In 1983, the United Nations set up the World Commission on Environment and Development called 'the Brundtland Commission' to examine the problems related to this area. The Commission in its report entitled "Our Common Future" published in 1987, used and defined this concept of sustainable development for the first time by Ms. Gro Harlem Brundtland, the then Prime Minister of Norway and the chair of the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) as “Meeting the needs of present generation without compromising with the needs of future generations.” This report insists on the need to protect the diversity of genes, species, and all terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems in nature. This is possible in particular via measures to protect the quality of the environment, and by the restoration, development, and maintenance of habitats that are essential to species. This implies the sustainable management of the use of the animal and plant populations being exploited. In other words, it is the rational management of human, natural, and economic resources that aims to satisfy the essential needs of humanity in the very long term.

           Sustainable development implies the fulfillment of several conditions: preserving the overall balance, respect for the environment, and preventing the exhaustion of natural resources. Reduced production of waste and the rationalization of production and energy consumption must also be implemented. Sustainable development is presented as a more or less clean break from other modes of development, which have led and are still leading to worrying social and ecological damage on both a worldwide and a local scale. In order to be sustainable, development must combine three main elements: fairness, protection of the environment, and economic efficiency. A sustainable development project must be based on a better-developed mode of consultation between the community and the members it comprises. The success of such a policy also depends on consumers accepting certain constraints and citizens observing certain requirements with regard to transparency and participation.

Review of literature: Faced with the over-exploitation of natural resources that accompanied economic and demographic growth, the think tank known as the Club of Rome, created in 1968, advocated zero growth. This group unites scientists, economists, national and international civil servants, and industrialists from 53 countries. It considers the complex problems that face all societies, whether industrialized or developing. In 1971, this private international association sounded an urgent alarm by publishing ‘The Limits to Growth’. Broadly speaking, it presents current economic development as being incompatible with the long-term protection of the planet. The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm in 1972 gave birth to the first true notion of sustainable development, which was called ‘eco development’ in those days. This founding conference was held in an atmosphere of conflict between the ecology and the economy.  As the years have passed, the elements of civil societies, with poor support from governments, have been waking up to the need to implement worldwide solidarity to deal with the risks of chaos disturbing nature’s balances. In the 1980s, when the general public became aware of acid rain, the hole in the ozone layer, and the greenhouse effect, etc., this gradually dawning awareness took another step forward. Little by little, the media began to make these topics more accessible to the general public. In 1980, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) published its world conservation strategy. The term ‘sustainable development’ remained virtually unnoticed until its revival in the Gro Harlem Brundtland report 'Our common future', published in 1987. It is very encouraging, therefore, to see that nations renewed their commitments to sustainable development in 2012 at Rio+20, and affirmed that a new integrated agenda beyond 2015 would ensure the promotion of an economically, socially and environmentally viable future for our planet and for present and future generations. They called for the development of Sustainable Development Goals. During the first United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-1), in June 2014, ministers concluded that the post-2015 sustainable development agenda should fully integrate economic, social and environmental dimensions in a "coherent, holistic, comprehensive and balanced manner". This was reiterated by the UN Secretary-General in his December 2014 synthesis report The Road to Dignity by 2030.

UN Climate Change Conference (Paris) August, 2017: It is very sad that Donald Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the historic Paris Climate Change Agreement and turn his back on the other 194 countries that signed it leaves him isolated on the world stage. But Trump is also isolated from the very Americans he purports to lead, and here lies hope. Across America, families, businesses, churches, institutions and governments are busy building a clean energy future. And no president can stop that.

OBJECTIVES OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: Sustainable development aims at the creation of the sustainable improvements in the quality of life for all people and this should be the principal goal of development policy. Accordingly, the main objectives of sustainable development are stated as under:

(1) Accelerating economic growth (2) Meeting basic needs (3) Raising living standards (4) Helping in ensuring clean environment free from all types of pollution (5) Maximizing the net effects of economic development (6) Preservation and enhancement of the stock of the environmental, human and physical capital (7) Inter generational equity and (8) Overall strict control on gross exploitation of the natural resources of each country.

Dimensions of Sustainability: They are powerful tool for defining the complete sustainability problem. This consists of economic, social, and environmental pillars. If anyone pillar is weak then the system as a whole is unsustainable. Two popular ways to visualize the three pillars are shown. 

Most national and international problem solving efforts focus on only one pillar at a time. For example, the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), the environmental protection agencies (EPA) of many nations, and environmental NGOs focus on the environmental pillar. The World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) focus mostly on economic growth, thought the OECD gives some attention to social sustainability, like war reduction and justice. The United Nations attempts to strengthen all three pillars, but due to its consensual decision making process and small budget has minor impact. The United Nations focuses mostly on the economic pillar, since economic growth is what most of its members want most, especially developing nations. This leaves a void. No powerful international organization is working on the sustainability problem as a whole, which would include all three pillars. However, as the Great Recession of 2008 demonstrated, weakness in the other pillars can directly weaken the environmental pillar. Many nations and states are cutting back or postponing stricter environmental laws or investment, since their budgets are running deficits. Many environmental NGOs are seeing their income fall. The social pillar is critical too. Once a war breaks out environmental sustainability has zero priority. If a nation lives in dire poverty, the environment is pillaged with little thought for the future. Therefore solutions to the sustainability problem must include making all three pillars sustainable.

The largest system of them all is the biosphere we live in. It contains the human system, which has two main systems: social and economic. When groups of people, from a tribe to a nation, agree to form a government they form a social contract to increase their general welfare. This contract binds the social and economic systems of the group of individuals together. The people (the social subsystem) are working together under a central government to maximize their economic system's output. Seeing the overall system this way makes it clear that environmental sustainability must have the highest priority, because the lower the carrying capacity of the environment, the lower the common good delivered by the social system and the less output the economic system can produce.

THE ISSUES AND AIMS OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: Following the Rio conference of 1992, most countries undertook to draw up a national strategy for sustainable development. The implementation of these strategies has turned out to be tricky, because it must address very serious issues within economic and political contexts that are marked by strong inertia. The issues appear at every level and affect practically every area of national policy. The various approaches reflect different points of view, and in particular: more or less constrained free market practices, a desire to place people at the heart of the economy, the greater or lesser determination of the various countries in the world, and the balance between short, medium, long, and very long-term interests. Moreover, there is no denying that the interdependence of modern-day economies means that environmental problems must be dealt with on a worldwide level, which does not simplify the implementation of the necessary strategies, particularly because of differences in levels of development.

The aim of sustainable development is to define viable schemes combining the economic, social, and environmental aspects of human activity. These three areas must therefore be taken into consideration by communities, companies, and individuals. The ultimate goal of sustainable development is to find a coherent and long-lasting balance between these three aspects. In addition to these three main factors, there is a transverse consideration, which is essential to the implementation of policies and actions with regard to sustainable development: good governance. Governance consists in the procedures of the decision-making process. In matters of sustainable development, the consensus of all the participants in society is required in order to define objectives and implement them: private and public sector companies, associations, NGOs, unions, and citizens.

Sustainable development did not just appear out of thin air; it is the product of a set of transformations in which the exploitation of natural resources, the choice of type of investment, and orientation of technological and institutional modifications are in harmony with present and future needs. As has already been indicated, the aims of sustainable development must be considered by individuals, by companies, and on a planet-wide level. Moreover, the concept of sustainable development is based on a set of requirements. It must allow the basic needs of present and future generations to be fulfilled with regard to demographic constraints, such as: access to water, education, health, employment, and the fight against hunger or malnutrition. Another aim of this type of development is to improve quality of life, which involves easier access to medical care, social services, culture, and therefore also social well-being. In addition, respect for rights and freedoms and the promotion of new forms of renewable energy such as wind, solar, and geothermal power, are important aspects of sustainable development. Sustainable development must allow the planet’s resources and condition to be protected for future generations and natural assets to be shared. The concept of sustainable development also involves narrowing the gaps between rich and poor countries, insofar as these gaps, if maintained or accentuated, could be the cause of violent conflict, which by its very nature leads to regression rather than development.

Environmental problems like air pollution, water pollution, soil degradation, deforestation, loss of bio-diversity, etc are caused by such diverse factors population growth, poverty, industrialization, agricultural development, transport development, urbanization, market failure etc. Such environmental degradation harms human health, reduces economic productivity and leads to the loss of amenities. Therefore, the damaging effects of environmental degradation can be reduced by a judicious choice of economic and environmental policies and environmental investments. The important policy measures for sustainable development are as follows:

·  Reducing Poverty: Reduction of poverty should be the foremost priority of the Government. It should select those projects which provide greater employment opportunities to the poor. It should expand health, family planning and education that will help reduce population growth. Supply of drinking water, sanitation facilities, and slum clearance should be given top priority.

·      Removing Subsidies: To reduce environmental degradation at no net financial cost to the Government, subsidies for resource use by the private and public sectors should be removed. Because, subsidies on the use of electricity, fertilizers, pesticides, diesel, petrol, gas, irrigation, water etc lead to their wasteful use and environmental problems.

·   Clarifying and Extending Property Rights: Lack of property rights over excessive use of resources leads to degradation of environment. This leads to overgrazing, deforestation and over exploitation of minerals. Therefore, clarifying and assigning ownership titles to private owners will solve environmental problems.

·   Market based Approaches: Various market based approaches should be adopted to protect environment. Market based instruments in the form of emission tax, pollution taxes, marketable permits, depositor fund system, input taxes, differential tax rates, user administrative charges, subsidies for pollution abatement equipment etc should be extensively used to protect environment.

· Regulatory Policies: Regulatory policies are the other weapons for reducing environmental degradation. Regulators have to make decisions regarding price, quantity and technology. They decide the technical standards, regulations and charges on air, water and land pollutants.

·  Public Participation: Public awareness and participation are highly effective to improve environmental conditions. For this purpose various formal & informal education programme, environmental awareness programmes, advertisement, public movements, afforestation, conservation of wild life etc are to be organized on a large scale.

·      Trade and Environment: The Government should formulate an environment friendly trade policy covering both domestic and international trade. It should encourage the establishment of less polluting industries, adoption of cleaner technologies, adoption of environment friendly processes etc to control environmental degradation.

·      Participation in Global Environmental Efforts: Participation in various international conventions and agreements on environmental protection and conservation can also help to minimize damages of environmental degradation. They include the Montreal protocol, the Basel convention, the Rio Declaration, the Agenda 21, the Earth summits, etc.

·   Renewable energy: Policies should be framed for the use of renewable energy like solar and wind in place of coal and petrol. Atomic Energy Agency predicted that renewable energy would overtake natural gas to become the second largest source of power generation world-wide within two years, and that global wind and solar generating capacity would increase by more than 30 per cent.

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: CHALLENGES AND STRATEGIES: There are many initiatives in favour of sustainable development. However, these initiatives are often scattered, sometimes not well known (in particular, there is little exchange between the public and private sectors), and not well promoted. These initiatives, which are rarely part of a long-term plan, are conducted by a wide variety of players: private and public-sector companies, associations, NGOs, territorial authorities, educational institutions, healthcare facilities, public bodies, etc. All these initiatives sometimes constitute a local knowledge base that must be exploited, promoted, and shared. The various ministries must increasingly provide the driving force and co-ordinate, promote, and encourage all stakeholders involved in sustainable development initiatives. In view of the size of the task, sustainable development requires co-ordinated action by all of the economic actors and the public authorities.

CHALLENGES: In the field of sustainable development, there are many major challenges to be addressed. They require us to re-think our economy and our growth in favour of a society that is more economical in its use of raw materials and energy. Some of these challenges include: climate change, energy consumption, waste production, threats to public health, poverty, social exclusion, management of natural resources, loss of biodiversity, and land use. In this context, sustainable development approaches are now essential obligations.

Sustainable development must mainly be able to respond to the various problems raised by demographic growth, the planet’s limited capacity, and social inequality. In 2020, the world’s population will be close to 12 billion, but the Earth does not have unlimited resources, especially since individual consumption has been increasing considerably because the less developed countries wish to catch up with the others. Greenhouse gas emissions are one of the main consequences of human activity that accelerate global warming. This warming carries risks of shortages and the disruption of certain natural cycles such as fresh water, impoverishment of agricultural soil, deforestation, and reduced biodiversity. This means that the future development of all species living on earth, ultimately including human beings, is under threat. In order to be sustainable, development must also be harmonious. At least a certain amount of social cohesion must exist on a planetary scale in order to create the conditions for the peace we need. Major differences between the situations of economic players are sources of tension and conflict. The North/South economic divide and the unequal distribution of the consumption of the planet’s natural resources between the world’s populations are notable potential causes of tension.

Three Challenges Facing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals: 

Main Challenge is the “Strengthening Governance”, while the other three key challenges of  Sustainable Development that urgently need to be addressed are:

1). Bring together the right stakeholders at the right time in the right place:
Sustainable development inherently involves many different stakeholders operating at many different scales, from national governments, to transnational corporations, to local and international NGOs, to small villages, and many more.

2). How do we make difficult trade-offs?
There will be many co-benefits among the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), where addressing one goal helps address others at the same time. For example, addressing climate change will have co-benefits for energy security, health, biodiversity, and oceans. However, the SDGs will also involve trade-offs. It is crucial to recognize that difficult choices will also need to be made that may involve winners and losers, at least in the short term. For example, biodiversity could be threatened if forests are cut down to expand agricultural production for food security. Food security could be threatened if food crops are switched to bio fuel production for energy security. Water security could be threatened by decisions to intensify or expand agriculture, or to build hydropower for energy security and greenhouse gas mitigation.

3). How do we build in accountability for action?
A final key challenge is ensuring responsibility and accountability for progress towards meeting the SDGs. Mechanisms to do this need to link across local, national and international scales.

STRATEGIES: On a political level, the European Union has determined a strategy to facilitate more sustainable development. But, it is very sad that recently, the US administration under President Ronald Trump has skipped from its responsibility  in protecting world's environment. Sustainable development relies on economic, social and environmental foundations in the framework of co-ordinated worldwide governance. Feedback concerning the various economic, social and environmental policies already implemented must be obtained. The states and the European Union must assume their responsibilities as a driving force in the field of sustainable development. This strategy follows on from the European Sustainable Cities & Towns Conference (Lisbon 1996), and must be a facilitator of public opinion and policies in order to change consumption and investment behaviours. This strategy hinges on measures that take the main challenges into account, transverse measures, appropriate funding, the involvement of all the parties concerned, and the efficient implementation and monitoring of political decisions. The main directives of the strategy are: the promotion and protection of basic rights, solidarity within and between generations, the guarantee of an open and democratic society, the participation of citizens, companies and the social partners, the coherence and integration of policies, use of the best available knowledge, the precautionary principle, and the ‘polluter pays’ principle.

As a general rule, any policy involving a strategy in favour of sustainable development must include the following guidelines, which have international scope and permanent validity:

·  Becoming more responsible with regard to the future and future generations: promoting the precautionary principle, the ‘polluter pays’ principle, and the general principle of responsibility.

·     Taking into account the three aspects already mentioned, in a balanced manner, which assumes that the ‘environmental responsibility’, ‘economic capacity’, and ‘social solidarity’ areas must be handled equally. 

·        Incorporating sustainable development in all areas of politics. All activities and all processes in the city must be concerned.

·    Increasing the co-ordination between political areas and improving consistency. Thus, any wide-ranging political decision must be preceded by an early evaluation of its social, economic and ecological consequences. This approach requires transparent decision procedures and the involvement of all participants concerned, as well as the prior determination of conflicts of interest.

· Achieving the sustainable development objectives through partnership. All institutional levels must work together constructively and fully assume their role as an interface with civil society and the private sector.

CONCLUSION: Rapid environmental degradation that has been taking place all over the world in recent decades has alarmed economists and environmentalists alike. Fostering sustainable development requires the effective management of naturally human and physical capital. Improved coordination across the countries to share the global resources, technology and also scarce resources has become the need of the hour. Global level generosity in promoting and protecting democracy, exchange of technology, maintaining stability of prices in the various economies, judicious use of all environmental material throughout to enhance human development and sustainable development. Sustainable development can be achieved only if the environment is conserved and improved.

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1 comment:

  1. thank you very much sir...feeling happy you fulfilled my request...!!!