Sustainable development, as per the Brundtland Commission, is defined as development aimed at sustaining the needs of the present generation without compromising with the ability of the coming generations to sustain themselves. This type of development is aimed at ensuring better quality of life for everyone, keeping in mind environment security and social equity. Reckless development only contributes to environmental hazards, such as global warming and climate change. However, sustainable development, with its three elements of social equity, economic development, and environment, recognizes the importance of environment security, prudent use of natural resources, needs of everyone, and maintenance of high levels of economic growth, ensuring that future generations ought not to suffer due to actions taken by the present generations.
Sustainability for All
The 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, Brazil, was instrumental in bringing the concept of sustainable development to the mainstream. Sustainability demands that society must design activities that cater to meeting needs of every human being while indefinitely preserving the ecology to ensure survival of the planet’s life support system. Environmental sustainability tries to encourage rational use of natural resources that can be replenished naturally; failing which, reckless exploitation of natural resources will give rise to environmental degradation, leading to an unsustainable situation – making it difficult for the environment to sustain human life. The reckless exploitation and degradation of natural resources on a large scale could amount to extinction for humanity. Sustainable environment, on the other hand, focuses on helping everyone meet their basic needs and exploit opportunities to fulfill their aspirations for a better life.
An ecologically sustainable society is one that focuses on:
a) Conserving biodiversity and life support systems
b) Remaining within the capacity of supporting ecosystems
c) Making sure sustainable use of renewable resources
d) Ensuring reduction of degradation of non-renewable resources
Sustainable Development = Environment Sustainability
The Brundtland Commission sees sustainable development as a process of change, wherein the exploitation of resources, orientation of institutional change and technological development, and direction of investments are in tune with the future and present needs. Environmental sustainability is primarily concerned with making sure that our interactions with the nature and its resources are consistent with the idea of keeping the environment unspoiled and safe for the future generations. The exploitation of natural resources must be in tune with how the environment can be replenished, making sure earth’s carrying capacity is not adversely affected or irreversibly degraded because environment damage affects people’s well- being around the globe, seriously jeopardizing the means of wealth creation for social welfare. Undoubtedly, such a state poses a direct threat to poverty reduction and economic growth.
Thus it won’t be wrong to say that sustainable development is a form of economic development that is deeply rooted in the integrity and sustainability of the environment. Without environmental sustainability and ecological balance, it is not possible to attain sustainable development.