Sustainable Development Ready for Print Compatible
Sustainable Development The idea of sustainable development grew from numerous environmental movements in earlier decades and was defined in 1987 by the World Commission on Environment and Development (Brundtland Commission 1987) as: Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This contributed to the understanding that sustainable development encompasses a number of areas and highlights sustainability as the idea of environmental, economic and social progress and equity, all within the limits of the world’s natural resources. A primary goal of sustainable development is to achieve a reasonable and equitably distributed level of economic well-being that can be perpetuated continually for many human generations. Sustainable development implies using renewable natural resources in a manner which does not eliminate or degrade them, or otherwise diminish their usefulness for future generations. It further implies using non-renewable (exhaustible) mineral resources in a manner which does not unnecessarily prevent easy access to them by future generations. Sustainable development also requires depleting nonrenewable energy resources at a slow enough rate so as to ensure the high probability of an orderly society transition to renewable energy sources. "Sustainable development ensures that the maximum rate of resource consumption and waste discharge for a selected development portfolio would be sustained indefinitely, in a defined planning region, without progressively impairing its bio-productivity and ecological integrity. Environmental conservation, therefore, contrary to general belief, accelerates rather than hinders economic development. Therefore, the Development plans have to ensure: • • •
Sustainable and equitable use of resources for meeting the needs of the present and future generations without causing damage to environment. To prevent further damage to our life-support systems; To conserve and nurture the biological diversity, gene pool and other resources for long term food security".
--State Of The Environment Report - 1999, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India. "The primary objective of the Sustainable Development is to reduce the absolute poverty of the world's poor through providing lasting and secure livelihoods that minimize resource depletion, environmental degradation, cultural disruption and social instability". --E. Barbier, "The Concept of Sustainable Economic Development", Environmental Conservation, 1987.
Sustainable Development Indicators I. Environmental indicators: i. Groundwater potential ii.
Effective utilisation of surface and ground water resources
Waste water generation, collection, and treatment in urban areas
Marine fish catch
Land use pattern
Wood energy resources
Total wood from forest
Use of fertilizers
Use of pesticides
Threatened animal species
Carbon dioxide emissions
Emission of other toxic agents
Rate of extinction of protected species
Production & consumption of ozone depleting substances
Municipal solid waste management
Hazardous waste management
Economic indicators: i.
GDP growth rate
Gross Exports and Imports
Reserves of natural resources o
Crude Oil and Natural Gas
Annual energy consumption per capita
Social indicators: i.
Population growth rate
% of GDP spent on education
% of people having access to safe drinking water
Life expectancy at birth (years)
Infant mortality rate(per 1,000 births)
% GNP spent on health
Environmentally related diseases
Rate of growth of urban population (%)
Calorie intake per capita
Motor vehicles in use (no.)
Institutional indicators: i.
Programmes for national environmental statistics and indicators for sustainable development
Sustainable development strategies
A diagrammatic presentation of what is envisaged by sustainable development
Little Progress So Far However, the record on moving towards sustainability so far appears to have been quite poor. Though we might not always hear about it, sustainable development (and all the inter-related issues associated with it) is an urgent issue, and has been for many years, though political will has been slowpaced at best. For example, there are • •
1.3 billion without access to clean water; about half of humanity lacking access to adequate sanitation and living on less than 2 dollars a day;
approximately 2 billion without access to electricity;
And this is in an age of immense wealth in increasingly fewer hands. The inequality of consumption (and therefore, use of resources, which affects the environment) is terribly slanted: “20% of the world’s people in the highest-income countries account for 86% of total private consumption expenditures — the poorest 20% a microscopic 1.3%” according to the 1998 United Nations Human Development Report. The 1992 Rio Earth Summit was attended by 152 world leaders, and sustainability was enshrined in Agenda 21, a plan of action, and a recommendation that all countries should produce national sustainable development strategies. Despite binding conventions and numerous detailed reports, there seems to have been little known about the details to ordinary citizens around the world. The World Development Movement notes. “Despite thousands of fine words the last decade has joined the 1980’s as another ‘lost decade for sustainable development’ with deepening poverty, global inequality and environmental destruction”. In many countries — rich and poor — this is often because of a perception that sustainability is expensive to implement and ultimately a brake on development. Poor countries for their part usually lack the physical infrastructure, ideas and human capacity to integrate sustainability into their development
planning. Besides, they are often quite skeptical about rich countries’ real commitment to sustainable development and demand a more equitable sharing of environmental costs and responsibilities. Many people also believe that environmental problems can wait until developing countries are richer. According to late Anil Agarwal, founder editor of Down To Earth Magazine economists often missed the real measure of poverty. We needed to understand poverty not as a lack of cash, but as a lack of access to natural resources. This was because millions of people lived within what he called the biomassbased subsistence economy. For these millions, the Gross Nature Product was more important than the Gross National Product. For them, environmental degradation was not a matter of luxury, but a matter of survival. Development was not possible without environmental management. In fact, what was needed was to regenerate the environment for development. He made us look beyond “pretty trees and tigers” to see environmental issues not as people versus nature — a conservation perspective — but as people versus people. The above highlights the need to consider multiple angles and perspectives. More focus is needed on developing technologies that are “environment friendly.” Advances in such technologies would have a profound impact on all manner of society. Yet, achieving sustainable development seems primarily a political task not a technological one, though technology may be one of the many factors that could play an important part in moving towards more sustainable development. Without the political will to overcome special interests, it will prove difficult and those without voices to be heard, such as the poor that make up the majority of the planet, would be impacted the most. India’s efforts towards Sustainable Development Sustainable development in India now encompasses a variety of development schemes in social, (clean energy, clean water and sustainable agriculture) and human resources segments, having caught the attention of both the Central and State governments and also public and private sectors. In fact, India is expected to begin the greening of its national income accounting, making depletion in natural resources wealth a key component in its measurement of gross domestic product (GDP). As per a report by UN Environment Program (UNEP), 'Global Trends in Sustainable Energy Investment 2010', released on July 2010, India was ranked eighth in the world in terms of investment in sustainable energy. The report further stated that India invested around US$ 2.7 billion in sustainable energy in 2009. Wind energy attracted 59 per cent of financial investment in clean energy in India. India was placed fifth in the world for installed wind power during the year. Biomass and waste was the second largest sector recipient of investment, generating US$ 0.6 billion of new financial investment or 22 per cent of the total. India's sustained effort towards reducing greenhouse gases (GHG) will ensure that the country's per capita emission of GHG will continue to be low . India has been ranked ninth in the tree planting roll of honour
in 2009 in a campaign to plant a billion trees, which was launched by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in November 2006. The Secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Mr. Vijay Sharma, announced that India has joined the United Nations Environment Programme's ‘Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign’ (BTC) by planting two billion trees since 2007. Researchers predict India's renewable energy capacity to increase to 20,000 mega watt (MW) by December 2012, from the current 15,542 MW. The contribution of renewable energy to the power business in India has now reached 70 per cent, compared to 10 per cent in 2000, in terms of project numbers and dollar value, according to Anita George, Director, Infrastructure, International Finance Corporation (IFC).. India is the fifth largest wind energy producer in the world, with installed capacity of nearly 10,500 MW and a target to scale up capacity to 14,000 MW by the end of 2011.