Sustainable Development is a development which meets out the requirements and demands of the present generation without compromising with the same for the future generations to meet out their common needs. The World Commission on Environment and Development in 1987 gave a definition of sustainable development as follows:
“The development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs.”
Sustainable development gives us a roadmap that all the development i.e., social, economical and the environmental can be reached within in the limits of the earth’s natural resources. According to this roadmap, we can achieve social and economical progress without exhausting the finite natural resources of the earth. This will not create any imbalance in the nature.
As we have entered in the age of globalization, the businesses have faced a fierce challenge of global competition. The technology changed our living ways, standards and even our thoughts. Natural resources were consumed more than the limits. On the name of development, these natural resources were exploited. There came a threat to the natural resources. To meet out the basic requirements of the growing population, it became necessary to produce more and more food, and make more and more land for living and do maximum output. Forests were deforested. Due to deforestation, many plants and animal species came on the verge of danger, which resulted in very miserable conditions. Some plants and animals species became extinct; some are still on border line. Some are endangered. Moreover, it created danger for the environment too. Industries were established. For this too, forests were cut down. These created air pollution, noise and water pollution. This sudden outbreak of pollution resulted in global warming and global house effect, which became of challenge of the future generation to survive. The world moved towards nuclear power which is one of the most dangerous social evil till date. The catastrophic nuclear accident on 26th April, 1986 at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant is one of the worst nuclear power plant accidents in the history till date. (Chernobyl Disaster, http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Safety-and-Security/Safety-of-Plants/Chernobyl-Accident/). All these evidences raised several questions in front of the world. It forced everyone to think about the tomorrow. What kind of development are we doing? This breakneck development indiscriminately created imbalance in the nature which resulted in many natural disasters and calamities like earthquakes, tsunami and much more.
The UNO made its sustainable development forum and publicized many goals (http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/?menu=1300). Time to time, there are several meetings, conferences held on global level to overcome the threat which the generation is facing. The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in 1972was held in Stockholm, which brought the industrialized and developing nations together to delineate ‘Right’ for the human family to a healthy and productive environment (http://www.uncsd2012.org/history.html).
TimeLine of Sustainable Development:
Though the concept of sustainable development is not a new one. The following chronology shows the history of sustainable development:
Rachel Carson, 1962: In 1962, Rachel Carson published a book “Silent Spring”, which showed a research on toxicology, ecology and epidemiology. This combined research proved that the continuous use of agricultural pesticides was building to catastrophic levels resulting in damage to the human and animal species. Further, he showed in the book that the environment has a limit to absorb toxic pollutants.
International Biological Program, 1963: In 1963, the nations around the world came together for the International Biological Program which laid the foundation for science based environmentalism.
Environment Defense Fund, 1967: The EDF was founded to pursue legal solutions against environmental damages. Major example is of ban of DDT which was used to spray on mosquitoes.
Pollution Bomb, 1968: A book was published by author Paul Ehrilch on the issues of resources exploitation and environmental dangers by the human population.
The Club Of Rome, 1968: 36 European economists and scientists established this club led by Italian industrialist Aurrelio Peccei and Scottish scientist Alexander King. It main goal is to pursue a balance on industrial production, population, environmental damage, food consumption and natural resource usage.
Intergovernmental Conference for Rational Use and Conservation of Biosphere, 1968: This conference was conducted by UNESCO to discuss about economically sustainable development.
Human Environment Conference in 1972 by UN General Assembly.
Friends of the Earth, 1969: A forum to protect planet, biological, cultural and ethnic diversity from environmental degradation.
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) 1969 by USA
National Resources Defense Council, 1970
First Earth day held in 1971.
International Institute for Environmental and Development, 1971: It was established in Britain to regulate economic progress without harming natural resources.
Founex Report, 1971: A report prepared experts meeting in Founex, Switzerland which demonstrated environmental and developmental strategies.
Only One Earth, 1972: A book by Rene Dubos and Barbara Ward, which created an alarm among the people about the earth damages.
Human Environment, 1972: The UN conference was held in Stockholm by Maurice Strong. The agenda was about the regional pollution and acid rain problems in northern Europe.
The Values Party, 1972: New Zealand came up with world’s first national green party.
Environment et Developpement du Tiers Monde, 1972: Environment and Development Action in the Third World was established about environment and development in Africa.
Limits of Growth, 1972: The Club of Rome published the report.
OPEC, 1972 oil crisis fuels limits to growth debate.
European Environmental Action Program, 1973. The first effort for a single environmental policy for European Economic Community (EEC).
Chipko Movement, 1973: A movement in India against the deforestation and environmental degradation.
Rowland and Molina, 1974, released a work on chlorofluorocarbon in Nature Magazine which showed ozone depletion by use of CFCs.
Limits to Poverty, 1974: Bariloche Foundation’s report for growth and equity for the third world.
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES) 1975.
Greenbelt Movement, 1977: Tree planting movement against desertification in Kenya.
UN Conference on Desertification, 1977
World Conservation Strategy, 1980 by International Union for Conservation of Nature.
National Conservation Strategy adopted by Australia in 1983 for World Conservation Strategy.
World Commission on Environment and Development forms, 1983.
British and American scientists discovered Antarctic Ozone hole in 1984.
Conference on Environment and Development in Ottawa by IUCN in 1986.
The Chernobyl Disaster, 1986 created a massive toxic radioactive explosion, which resulted in several causalities.
Brundtland Report, Our Common Future, 1987 published.
Montreal Protocol on Ozone Depletion, 1987
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 1988.
International Institute for Sustainable Development, 1990.
The UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, 1992.
These are a few milestone dates in the history of sustainable development which made the people concerned about the nature and natural resources.
The basic needs of the world are increasing everyday, which has become a challenge for the businesses to meet out. This resulted out to be a danger to the natural resources. Exploitation became the cause of threats to the future. The ecosystem is not capable enough to sustain so much; it has its own limits. And if we keep on exploiting the ecosystem in this way, the future generations may not be able to meet out their needs. This risk brought the concept of sustainable development in every one’s mind. A few examples are as follows:
Sustainable Construction and Recycling: The buildings and other construction should be done with the help of recycled materials and renewable resources, which is more energy efficient.
Renewable energy: These resources are limitless. Instead of using non renewable resources of energy (finite resources), we must adopt renewable resources of energy. These resources include Biofuel, biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar energy, tidal power, wave power, wind energy etc.
Water Conservation: Water is a basic need of life. We must conserve the natural resources for our better tomorrow. There are several techniques for doing this from recycling to water harvesting.
These sustainable development practices can help us to create a balance in the nature in order to overcome the future challenges as the world’s sources are finite. And if we keep on using them in this way we may have to lose them someday. Sustainable development defines ways to live within the limits of our environment. The continuous exploitation of natural resources can lead to following problems:
– Greenhouse gas increase
– Ozone depletion
– Soil erosion
– Oil depletion
– Extreme energy
– Water pollution
– Natural hazard and natural disaster
– Species extinction
The basic and most important goal of the sustainable development is to improve and preserve the human as well environment health. It is required to find out better ways for present as well as future. If we don’t live within in our environmental limits, it may lead into climate change, which has serious risks for animals and plants. After the Rio Conference which took place in 1992 where guiding principles for policy making were established, several countries all over the world came up with national policies and strategies for sustainable development. All the nations joined hands with various international/intergovernmental organizations to protect the environment and the earth from the possible dangers. This effort made a small change, yet the fight is not over. Various initiatives are take up in favor of it, yet they are not effective as most of them are often either scattered or are not well known, due to improper promotion among the public. There is a global need for this development which has to be carried out by individually as well as in relation with others. This is the only path which can lead us to a safer future.
“Our biggest challenge this new century is to take an idea that seems abstract sustainable development and turns it into a reality for the entire world’s people,” – Kofi Annan, Former UN Secretary General, 2001.