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Principles of Sustainable Development

By: James Murray-White - Updated: 4 Aug 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Sustainable Development Environmental

The concept of Sustainable Development essentially means keeping current development within sustainable levels, thus protecting the needs and resources of both the environment and human population, in the longer term.

This term, the principles of Sustainable Development, originally came from the Bruntland Report in 1987, written up in the book 'Our Common Future'.

In its guiding statement, the authors state that:
"Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

The Bruntland Report

This report was published by the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), set up in 1983 as an International body to explore these pressing issues, and made recommendations for action and change.

The report went on to say that the critical environmental problems that were then starting to become apparent are a consequence of the disparity between the wealth of the Northern hemisphere, with its non-sustainable attitude of consumption and production, and that of the South, lagging behind in poverty.

"Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

In 1989, the report was debated in the UN General Assembly, which decided to organize a UN Conference on Environment and Development.

Sustainable Development is ultimately intended to curb the excesses of human exploitation of the earth's natural resources, by imposing limits to our growth, expansion, and development. Channelling the development of towns, cities, even Countries, into a structure that questions and rigorously implements targets and limits upon this, is the plan.However, how Governments and the International Community take up this challenge, is the reality on the ground, with varying degrees of success.

Progress on developing the concepts of sustainable development has been fast since the term was first coined. In 1992 leaders at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro developed these concepts further and created agreements on such key areas such as deforestation, desertification, and the hot topic of today, climate change.

Many activists claim that key opportunities have been missed to regulate on these issues, and carbon emissions for example, have been allowed to escalate, and the planet is in the perilous state some say it is currently in.The failure of Governments to agree, with the Kyoto talks being the most significant lack of International progress, has ironically brought about the development of regional and sectoral sustainability plans. Every Council in the UK has a local sustainable area plan. It is worthwhile getting hold of a copy for your local area, and exploring what the council's targets are, and how you can play your part.

The UK and the Principles of Sustainable Development

Sustainable Development and its implementation is such an important subject, which needs to be removed solely from the political agenda. It clearly has implications for every human being, and everyone can and should educate themselves on this.

However the British Government has set the country targets, and as the sole body responsible for policing these environmental targets, should be accountable to its plan which it operates on behalf of its citizens.

The Governments plan operates on four principles, and these are:

  • Living within Environmental limits
  • Ensuring a strong, healthy, and just society
  • Achieving a sustainable economy
  • Promoting good Governance

This unifies people and the environment, touching on the principles of anthropocentrism and human ecology. Ultimately, the links must be clearly seen between how we each live our lives, contribute to the economy, and use the resources available to us. But each of us must understand the consequences of each chain within this link, and how our need for heat and use of electricity, or more products made of wood, or glass, or food transported from the other side of the world, and the huge growth in air travel in the latter part of this century, impacts eventually on our world, and will have consequences, either within our lifetime, or in our children's.

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