The concept of sustainable development has been there for decades and as a modern concept, it was originally brought forward by the Brundtland Report in 1987 in which it was simply defined as “development that meets the needs of the present world without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. Sustainable development can be facilitated through five guiding principles, i.e. living within environmental limits, ensuring a strong, healthy and just society, achieving a sustainable economy, promoting good governance and utilising information communication technology as a social responsibility. This blog delves deeper into what the concept of sustainable development entails, why is it important as well as its major types and benefits.
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Importance of Sustainable Development
The goals of sustainable development were first adopted by the United Nations Member States in 2015. The concept of sustainable development aims to encourage the use of products and services in a manner that reduces the impact on the environment and optimizes the resources in order to satisfy human needs. To understand why sustainable development is the need of the hour, take a look at the following key pointers that elucidate upon its importance:
- Development of non-polluting renewable energy systems
- Population stabilization
- Integrated land-use planning
- Healthy cropland and grassland
- Woodland and re-vegetation of marginal lands
- Conservation of biological diversity
- Control of pollution in water and of the air
- Recycling of waste and residues
- Ecologically compatible human settlements
- Environmental education and awareness at all levels
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Three Pillars of Sustainable Development
The concept of sustainable development is rooted in three main pillars that aim to achieve inclusive growth as well as create shared prosperity for the current generation and to continue to meet the needs of future generations. These three pillars are Economic, Social and Environmental Development and are interconnected and reflect the goals of community development and social and environmental stability. Let’s take a look at these the pillars of sustainable development in further detail:
Economic sustainability strives to promote those activities through which long-term economic growth can be achieved without having a negative impact on the environmental, social, and cultural aspects of the community. As a key facilitator for the concept of sustainable development for the environment, the basic fundamentals of economic sustainability are as follows:
- Finding effective solutions for hunger and poverty in the world in environmentally sound ways;
- Economics is the study of how societies use their resources (water, air, food, fuel, etc.) and when combined with the concept of sustainable development, it focuses on attaining economic growth which is only sustainable and simultaneously improves our quality of life and environment;
- Economic sustainability is grouped into three general categories to encompass sustainable growth, i.e values and valuation, policy instruments and poverty and environment.
Social sustainability is a form of social responsibility that significantly takes place when a community’s stable and unstable components need a revival of depleted resources. It combines the design of the physical environment with the social environment and focuses on the needs of different sections in a community and puts special emphasis on providing the right infrastructure and required support to weaker section. It is another parameter involved in understanding the concept of sustainable development and the key fundamentals of social sustainability are:
- Systematic community participation
- Strong civil society, including government
- Commonly accepted standards of honesty (tolerance, compassion, forbearance, love)
- Gender equality
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Culture is one of the main components of the concept of sustainable development. The need for cultural sustainability arises from the growing awareness of the importance of cultural rights and the preservation of cultural heritage. Some of the major factors that cultural sustainability is based on are:
- Cultured Individual: A developed state of mind can result in increasing awareness among communities which will protect and promote cultural diversity vital to universal human rights
- Globalization: With diverse cultures spread across different countries, the effects of globalization need to be imperatively discussed to address the rise of multicultural nations as well as the different issues faced by them.
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Now that you are familiarised with these three pillars of the concept of sustainable development, take a look at their key differences:
|Elimination of the extremes of wealth and poverty
|Equality between women and men, irrespective of caste, creed and colour.
|The holistic balance between nature and living beings is a reflection of the divine.
|Helping people understand the importance of voluntary giving and profit-sharing
|Elimination of all forms of prejudice/universal compulsory education/ trustworthiness and beliefs
|Unity in diversity; cleanliness; Kindness to animals and environmental conservation
Benefits of Sustainable Development
Here are some of the pivotal benefits that can be reaped by implementing the concept of sustainable development:
- Global Equity: Environmental benefits need to be equitably distributed over the present and future generations.
- Ethical Guiding Principle: Incorporation of the characteristics and values that most people associate with ethical behaviour democracy, equality or social justice.
- Physical Sustainability: Recognization of the limits to nature and striving towards an overall global ecological balance.
- Intergeneration Equity: Environmental resources and economic welfare should be available for future generations at least equal to the present ones.
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Hence, the concept of sustainable development is an essential one to understand in contemporary times as it can help us address some grave economic, social and environmental concerns. Interested in studying a degree in Environmental Science? Register for an e-meeting with our Leverage Edu experts and we will assist you in choosing the right programme and university that can guide you towards building a fulfilling career in Environmental Science!