The World Commission on Environment and Development was set up by the General Assembly of the United Nations headed by Norway prime minister Mr. Gro Harlem Brundtland. The commission was asked to formulate ‘A global agenda for Change‘ and accordingly the commission has submitted its report on March, 1987.The report also known as Brundtland report or our common future.
The report focused on the sustainable development it says that “Humanity has the ability to make development sustainable- to ensure that it meets the need of present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The concept of sustainable development does imply limits-not absolute limits but limitations imposed by the present state of technology and social organization on environmental resources and by the ability of the biosphere to absorb the effects of human activities. But technology and social organization can be both managed and improved to make way for new era of economic growth.
The commission believes that widespread poverty is no longer inevitable. Poverty is not only an evil in itself, but sustainable development requires meeting the basic needs of all and extending to all the opportunity to fulfill their aspirations for a better life. A world in which poverty is endemic will always be prone to ecological and other catastrophes. Meeting essential needs requires not only a new era of economic growth of nations in which the majority are poor, but an assurance that those poor get their fair share of the resources required to sustain that growth. Such equity would be aided by political system that secure effective citizen partnership in decision making and by greater democracy in international decision making.
Sustainable development requires that those who are more affluent adopt life styles within the planets ecological means- in their use of energy, for example. Further, rapidly growing populations can increase the pressure on resources and slow any rise in living standards; thus sustainable development can only be pursued if population size and growth are in harmony with the changing productive potential of the ecosystem”.
Capra (1996) promoted the ideology that the world is not a collection of isolated objects, but a network of phenomenon that are fundamentally interconnected and interdependent. In nature there is no ‘above’ or ‘below’ and there are hierarchies, there are only networks nesting within other networks.
According to him the principle of planets ecosystem organize them to maximize sustainability through interdependence, recycling, partnership, flexibility and diversity. The same principles can be used as a guideline to build sustainable human communities. As Haq (1998) stated that “sustainable development is a process in which economic, fiscal, trade, energy, agriculture, industrial and other policies are designed to bring about development that is economically, socially and ecologically sustainable.” It means that natural resources must be used in ways that do not create ecological debt by over exploiting the earth’s carrying and productive capacity.
Features of Sustainable Development
Economic Security-A sustainable community possesses a healthy and diverse economy that adapts to change, provides long term security to residents, and recognizes social and ecological limits. Prosperity of a community’s economy is based upon preservation of its assets and natural resource by maximizing income generation while also maintaining or increasing the diversity of assets that yields these benefits and are key to its productivity. A sustainable community has a variety of business, industries and institutions which are environmentally sound and financially viable, while retaining residents’ money within the community.
Ecological Integrity- In sustainable community’s environment and ecosystem are maintained both for their own essential natural functions, their beauty, their livability as a landscape, and their ability to provide sustainable supplies of natural resources and waste assimilation. Sustainable communities emphasize the importance of healthy, diverse ecological system that continually provides life sustaining function and other resources for humans and all other spices. A sustainable community is in harmony with natural system and reducing and converting waste into non-harmful and beneficial purposes, and by utilizing the natural ability of environmental resources for human needs without undermining their function and longevity.
Social Equity and Well-Being-A sustainable community recognizes and supports people’s evolving sense of well being which includes a sense of belonging, a sense of place, a sense of self worth, a sense of safety, a sense of connection with nature, and provision of goods and services which meet their needs, both as they define them and as can be accommodated within the ecological integrity of natural systems. A community that is truly sustainable provides for the health of all community members, respect cultural diversity, is equitable in its action, and considers the need of future generations.
- More than 1 billion people in the world live below the poverty line; 2 billion lack access to safe water; 3.1 billion have no sanitation.
- Developed countries have 20 percent of the global population but are responsible for 85 percent of world consumption of aluminum and synthetic chemical; 80 percent of paper, iron and steel; 80 percent of commercial energy; 75 percent of timber; 65 percent of meat, fertilizers and cement; half the world’s fish and grain; and 40 percent of its fresh water. Developed countries also generate most of the world’s hazardous chemical waste and 96 percent of radioactive waste and 90of all ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).
- If consumption in developing countries were to grow as fast as in the developed countries known cooper reserves would last only 96 more years, lead reserves 3.4 years, aluminum reserves 341 more years; and 16 million hectors of arable land would lost every year.
- One billion people around the world suffer from micronutrient deficiency and eight hundred million people sleep hungry every day.
- It is predicted that by 2050 as much as 42 percent of the world’s population will live in nations which will not have sufficient fresh water stock to meet their combined needs of agriculture industry and domestic use.
- There has been 0.6 degree Centigrade rise in the earth’s average temperature since the Industrial Revolution, caused by human activities-mainly the burning of coal, oil and gas pouring 850 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
- 75 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions are caused by industrialized world.
- There has been a 40 percent of reduction in the thickness of Western Arctic ice over the 40 years, the area is warming three times faster than the global average.
- 600 million tons of carbon dioxide is emitted annually by U.S.A., which is 25 percent of the world’s total emission. A similar level of emission is made by the entire developing world.
- There has been a 1 degree centigrade increase in tropical sea temperature over the past 100 years, damaging coral reefs and the fishing industries.
- 1 billion tons of carbons-as oil, gas and coal is held in existing industrial reserves in the world.
- Ageing is accelerated by five years as a result of exposure to lead, according to a study of former workers at a chemical company in USA.