June 30, 2018

Although sustainable development “Our Common Future” is defined in numerous ways but the most often quoted definition of this term comes from the Brunt land Report which states Sustainable development is “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Thus sustainable development is dependent upon two key concepts: needs and limitations. Needs refers to those in need—the world’s poorto which overriding priority should be given.  The limitations are those “imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment’s ability to meet present and future needs.”  ‘Positive development’ goes beyond sustainable development (as coined by Janis Birkeland); trying to revitalize the living systems that humans have disturbed.

Complete sustainability problem can be solved by the three pillars of sustainability. When all three pillars are resilient and robust, people live in a system where high quality life is the norm. They have access to clean healthy environment, a satisfactory level of economic well-being, and a strong level of social fulfillment. Out of these three pillars, environmental sustainability is most important because the other two pillars economic and social are reliant on upon the environment to a great extent.

In June 1992, United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) at Rio deJanerio popularly called Earth Summit,172 countries of the world decided to work for sustainable development, conservation of bio-diversity and forests and climate change. But, 26 years later, nothing much has changed.  The natural systems on which humanity depends on continue to  be degraded.

Since 1970, humanity’s ecological footprints have exceeded earth’s capacity. Bio diversity index has fallen by more than 50%. Greenhouse gases emission has almost doubled. World has lost more than 48% forests.  Furthermore, human race is fast approaching several environmental tilting points which could lead to irrevocable changesif crossed.Examples of Environmental Sustainable Development are Solar, Wind energy, Crop rotation, Efficient water fixtures and Green spaces such as parks and wild life sanctuaries.

Why is it difficult to solve sustainability problem? It’s because ofSystematic Change Resistance;the system and individual social agents strongly resistany change. A forest’s ecological worth is moreas compared to when it is cut down – which is a particular problem for countries transitioning to a market based economy which leads to economic failure. Governments are generally unable to enforce effective environmental friendly policies because of lack of political will as money generating industries, like mining etc. , are playing a dominant role in the economy of the state. Communicationfailures occur when community is not involved in the policy formation process.Businesses and communities then pressurize authorities to turn down environmentally friendly legislation and economic, political and communication failure kept on recurring.

But all is not doom and gloom. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) was officially adopted on the UN Sustainable summit in New York in Sept. 2015 and now will be reviewed in 2030.

The SDG stresses upon end of poverty and hunger, improved nutrition and promotion of sustainable agriculture, healthy lives, quality education, and gender equality, empowerment of all women and lifelong opportunities for all. It ensures access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. It gives importance to sustainable economic growth, productive employment and decent workforall.  It builds resilient infrastructure, promotes inclusive and sustainableindustrialization and fosters innovation. It promotes equality among countries and access to safe, resilient and sustainable cities. It emphasizes on sustainable consumption and production patterns. To combat climate change urgent action must be taken and conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resourcesfor must be ensured.

Governments must tackle SDG with the same spirit and resolution as they are tackling CLIMATE CHANGE.Sustainable Development is the need of the present time not only for survival of mankind but also for its future continuation.

We human beings must work together in our own capacity to achieve sustainable development otherwise we will face the consequences of environmental degradation and climate change and will surely perish.  It is important to realize that nothing less than a transformation of our attitudes and behavior would bring about the essential changes.  We, at KRMU, try to imbibe this quality to our students either through disseminating knowledge regarding environment or by performing green experiments in the lab.

Article Written By:

Dr. Meena Bhandari
School of Basic and Applied Sciences
K.R Mangalam University Gurgaon

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