What is Sustainable Development?

Sustainable development is that process of economic development which aims at raising the quality of life of both present and future generations, without threatening natural endowment and the environment.

In the recent past, the process of economic growth was viewed in complete disregard to the resource endowment and environment. Diverse crops were grown on land causing a fall in its fertility.

Excessive mining of iron, coal, gold, silver, and extraction of crude oil has been done no matter it leads to depletion of their stock. Smoke and another injurious emission from factories and transport vehicles have led to pollution of the environment almost unchecked.

 In short, Sustainable development is that process that fulfills the needs of the present generation without challenging the ability of future generations to fulfill their needs.

Features of Sustainable Development

The main features of sustainable development are as follows:

1. Sustained Rise in Real Per Capita Income and Economic Welfare: There should be a sustained rise in real per capita income and economic welfare over time.

2. Rational Use of Natural Resources: Sustainable development does not mean that natural resources should not be used at all.  It simply means that natural resources be rationally used in a manner such that they are not excessively exploited.

3. Ability of Future Generations to fulfill their Needs not to be Impaired: Sustainable development stresses the point that the ability of the future generations to fulfill their needs is not impaired in the wake of the competitive growth process.

For example,  if nonrenewable sources of energy like oil are recklessly used to increase present production, it would only be at the cost of lesser resource endowment for future generations. Such a development process is not sustainable over a long period of time.

4. Check on Pollution: Sustainable development discards those activities which induce environmental pollution.  Environmental pollution is to be viewed as an element of social cost.

Strategies for Sustainable Development

The concept of Sustainable development does not suggest delimiting the process of growth and development. Sustainable development should not be interpreted to mean that a check on the pace of growth would imply a check on the exploitation of resources and also a check on environmental pollution.

Sustainable development only suggests a judicious or optimum utilization of resources and in a manner such that the pace of economic growth is sustained without challenging the ability of future generations to grow and prosper.

How can it be achieved? What are the possible strategies for achieving sustainable development? Following observations may be noted in this context:

1. Input- Efficient Technology: We are to devise such production technologies which are input-efficient, it means output is maximized. This will moderate the stress on resource endowment per unit of input.

2. Use of Environment-Friendly Sources of Energy: LPG and CNG are cleaner fuels and environment friendly. The use of these fuels must be encouraged in place of petrol and diesel which emit huge amounts of carbon dioxide adding to the impact of Green House Gases.

People in rural areas should be discouraged from using wood as fuel. It causes deforestation and unwarranted degradation of resources. Instead, gobar gas plants may be developed as a source of domestic fuel.

3. Integrated Rural Development: Integrated rural development must be given a high-priority program of state planning. This will generate employment opportunities in rural areas, restricting migration to urban areas.

If rural-urban migration is checked, transportation needs will automatically be reduced. Also, this will reduce stress on social infrastructure in urban areas. Accordingly, one can expect a check on environmental pollution.

4. Shift to Organic Farming: Excessive use of chemical fertilizers, insecticides, and pesticides has raised the crop yield. But at the cost of soil fertility, which means a loss of production capacity for future generations.

It is high time that we switch over to organic farming which focuses on soil health rather than the plant-health.

5. Manage the wastes: Rather than allowing the industrial waste and household garbage to litter around or flow into the streams and rivers, we must systematically manage them. Household waste can be recycled into compost and used as manure for organic farming.

Scope of Sustainable Development

To understand the concept of sustainable development in its entirety, it is imperative, to begin with, its scope.

Sustainable development broadly focuses on the following which encompasses underlying objectives like the use of various resources, preservation, identification, etc.

  • Planning of economic growth to ensure least environmental impact.
  • Meeting current economic needs without compromising global environmental conditions for the generations to follow.

What are the Reasons leading the Environmental Crisis?

1. Continuous Growth of Economic Activities: It has a two-pronged effect on this planet’s environment. While on one hand, there is greater consumption of natural resources, on the other this is also accompanied by a greater volume of waste. Consequently, taming this issue can reduce depletion along with increased processing of waste materials.

2. Increasing Rate of Population Growth: Rise in population leads to higher use of natural resources for their sustenance. It includes natural resources like oxygen, water, etc. along with artificial products which are also dependent on environmental resources.  Another common issue with an ever-increasing population is that of misuse of these natural resources.

3. Fast-paced Urbanisation: Economic and industrial development leads to fast-paced Urbanisation, which often compels large populaces to relocate to Urban spaces. This often leads to an excess burden on existing infrastructures. Furthermore, the populace is often forced to relocate to slum areas that are congested and unhealthy.

4. Industrialisation: Industrialisation has had a rippling effect on this planet’s environment in one of the most dramatic fashions.  It is possible for numerous environmental issues, among which foremost is the depletion of resources along with deforestation. Additionally, Industrial waste often contains toxic materials. These, in turn, have also been greatly responsible for pollution with effects like air pollution, noise pollution, etc.

5. Rising use of Chemical and Artificial Products: Use of Chemicals like pesticides,  chemically developed fertilizers, etc., has led to a poisonous effect on the crops.

While a number of crops have been found to contain traces of these Chemicals, these have also directly led to the development of health issues for farmers and other users.  These two have adverse effects on these planets including soil contamination and other issues.

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