What Is Sustainable Development? Sustainable
Development Definition The simplest definition of sustainable
development comes out of the UN's Commission on Environmental and
Development conference held over a decade ago. It is defined as
"development that meets the needs of the present without compromising
the ability of future generations to meet their needs" became the
definition of sustainable development.
Five years later, in 1992, the Earth Summit in Rio was the first summit to look at the progress made towards the goal of achieving sustainable development, and each of the five global conferences since then has addressed sustainable development in one way or another.
The Debate Over Sustainable Development The debate continues as to whether or not the three components of sustainability, the environment, economic development and social equity can ever be equally joined. Many people, especially the environmentalists, feel that sustainable development cannot be achieved due to the huge scope of the problem. Despite the negativity, many countries are actively working towards the goal of a sustainable future.
The United States created the President's Council on Sustainable Development, which has representatives from environmental organizations, business and the government sectors. They have developed policies to promote a growing economy, coupled with a healthy environment, which is essential to our national and global security.
Everyone seems to agree that it is essential that all groups work together to improve the quality of life on our planet. We must develop efficient ways to use our natural resources, protect our global commons, manage human settlements, manage our chemicals, and our waste and achieve sustainable economic growth. How this is to be accomplished is a matter of hot debate.
Sustainable Development Gains Attention Fortunately, sustainable development is gaining attention. A Google search returns 23 million instances of the word sustainable development on the Internet. The term is becoming so well recognized that it is often shortened to "SD". Yet, despite its growing popularly, the definition remains vague and difficult to define.
After World War II, four common threads emerged as values the world's people want to achieve. These values are peace, freedom, development and the environment. World summits that have been held since then, have taken into account these four common threads and sustainable development has evolved. The three components, environment, economic and social spheres, overlap and no sphere can exist alone. Whether sustainable development is thought of as a goal, a concept or a movement, SD is taking hold on the international, national, corporate, city and local level. Encompassing all the components of sustainable development remains a complex issue. Everyone has their own idea of what SD is and how it can be achieved.
The Sustainable Development Future What it all boils down to is that we as individuals and the world in general must be sure that our activity does not cause our natural resources to be used up faster than it can be replaced. Using up our resources faster that they can be replaced naturally will, in theory, lead to a situation where the planet is incapable of sustaining human life. The ultimate result of this catastrophic failure could result in the extinction of the human.
So what is sustainable development? The complete answer is not clear and may never be, but the direction we should be headed is getting clearer all the time.
Beverly Saltonstall writes on topics concerning the environment and the travel industry. She has also written articles that have been published in a world wide boating publication. The author mainains an environmental website at http://sustainable-development-forecast.com as well as a blog at http://sustainable-development-forecast.com/blog. A free report, "Our Planet Is In Danger" is available on the website
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