Published on : 06 May 20206 min reading time
Sustainable development and environmental sustainability
Sustainable development is a concept that first emerged in 1987 with the publication of the Brundtland Report, which warned of the negative environmental consequences of economic growth and globalization and sought possible solutions to the problems caused by industrialization and population growth.
Definition of sustainable development
Although sustainable development is defined in many ways, the most frequently cited definition of the term comes from the Bruntland Report, “Our Common Future. According to the report, sustainable development is “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
From this particular definition, sustainable development can be reduced to two key concepts: needs and limits.
Needs refer to those who need it: the world’s poor. Limitations are those “imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the capacity of the environment to meet present and future needs”.
Meaning of sustainable development
The concept of sustainable development can be interpreted in many different ways, but it is essentially based on an approach to development that seeks to balance different needs and is often in competition with awareness of the environmental, social and economic constraints facing society.
Too often, development is driven by a particular need, without taking full account of broader or future impacts. We are already seeing the damage this approach can cause, from large-scale financial crises caused by irresponsible banks to global climate change resulting from our dependence on fossil fuel-based energy sources.
The more unsustainable development we pursue, the more frequent and serious its consequences are, and that is why we must act now.
Defining Environmental Sustainability
Environmental sustainability is the rate of collection of renewable resources, the creation of pollution and the depletion of non-renewable resources that can continue indefinitely. If they cannot be sustained indefinitely, they are not sustainable.
Is sustainable development only about environmental sustainability?
Living within our environmental limits is one of the central principles of sustainable development. One of the consequences is climate change.
But the goal of sustainable development is much broader than just the environment. It is also about ensuring a strong, healthy and just society.
This means meeting the diverse needs of all people in current and future communities, promoting personal well-being, social cohesion and inclusion, and creating equal opportunities.
Sustainable development is about finding better ways of doing things, both for the future and for the present. We may have to change the way we work and live now, but that does not mean our quality of life will be reduced.
An approach to sustainable development can bring many benefits in the short and medium term, for example:
Savings – Thanks to SDC (Sustainable Development Commission) monitoring, the UK government has saved over £60 million, improving the efficiency of its assets.
Health and transport – Instead of driving, walking or cycling short distances, you will save money, improve your health and often be just as fast and convenient.
Is sustainable development an area I should be concerned about?
The way we approach development concerns us all. The impact of our decisions as a society has very real consequences on people’s lives.
Poor community planning, for example, reduces the quality of life for the people who live there.
Relying on imports rather than on local food culture puts Italy at risk of food shortages.
Sustainable development provides an approach to making better decisions on issues that affect all of our lives. By integrating health plans into the planning of new communities, for example, we can ensure that residents have easy access to health and recreational facilities.
By encouraging more sustainable food supply chains, we can ensure that Italy has enough food for the long-term future.
Concrete examples of sustainable development
Although there are many examples of sustainable development, these are the five main examples of sustainable development :
Solar energy: The main advantages of solar energy are that it is completely free and available in unlimited supply. These two factors offer a huge benefit to consumers and help reduce pollution. Replacing non-renewable energy with this type of energy is environmentally and financially efficient.
Wind energy: Wind energy is another readily available energy source. The development of wind energy requires the use of wind turbines; however, due to the cost of construction and the search for a suitable location, this type of energy is intended to serve more than just the individual. Wind energy can supplement or even replace the cost of the electricity grid, and can therefore be a good investment and remain an excellent example of sustainable development.
Crop Rotation: Crop rotation is defined as “the subsequent planting of different crops on the same land to improve soil fertility and help control insects and diseases. This agricultural practice is beneficial in many ways, especially since it is free of chemicals. Crop rotation has been shown to maximize the growth potential of the land while preventing diseases and insects in the soil. This form of development can not only benefit commercial farmers, but can also help home-growers.
Efficient water systems: Replacing current construction practices and installing water-efficient showers, toilets and other water-efficient devices can conserve one of the world’s most precious resources: water. Examples of efficient appliances include EPA’s WaterSense products, dual-drainage toilets and composting toilets. According to the EPA, it takes a lot of energy to produce and transport water and to treat wastewater, and since less than one percent of the water available on Earth is fresh water, it is important that the sustainable use of water be both individual and social.
Green spaces: Green spaces include parks and other places where flora and fauna are encouraged to thrive. These areas also provide excellent opportunities for public outdoor recreation, especially in densely populated urban areas. According to UW-Madison’s Department of Urban and Regional Planning, the benefits of green spaces include: “helping to regulate air quality and climate…reducing energy consumption by neutralizing the effects of heating paved surfaces…recharging groundwater and protecting lakes and streams from polluted runoff. Research conducted in the United Kingdom by the University of Exeter School of Medicine has also revealed that moving to a greener area could lead to significant and lasting improvements in a person’s mental health.
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