Sustainable Development Today
The concept of sustainable development has become a major topic among intellectuals from various fields. Sustainable development has gone through various changes in its definitions and at present does not have a commonly accepted definition. The origination of the concept of sustainable development is debatable. In 1974 at a conference on Science and Technology for Human Development by the World Council of Churches the concept of a “sustainable society” is believed to have been first noted. This early concept focused on equitable distribution of scarce resources and the need for democratic decision making. In 1980 the currently used term of sustainable development emerged in the World Conservation Strategy of 1980. It was defined as “the integration of conservation and development to ensure that modifications to the planet do indeed secure that survival and well-being of all people.” Many problems were found with this report because it was written by environmentalists and did not focus on the political and economic changes needed. It appeared to be not practical to many including politicians and economists (Dresner 30-31).
In 1987 the World Commission on the Environment and Development published a report titled Our Common Future, often called the Brundtland Report, that defined sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (Edwards 4). This report and its definition also stressed the connection between a healthy environment, equity, and the economy. If we want a change in any of these issues we would also have to work on the other two simultaneously. These three issues have become to be known as the three Es of sustainable development. The Earth Summit at Rio do Janeiro, Brazil made it clear that the three Es cannot be looked at as individuals (Edwards 18). The actual definition of sustainable development may not be accepted by everyone but what is important is the recognition that sustainable development is about the balance of the connected Es, Economy, Environment, and Equity.
The health of the earth degrades with the destructive activity of human beings. A recent study by a group of scientists looked at twenty four different services that the earth’s ecosystems provide for humans, ecosystem services, and found that fifteen of them are in need of desperate help (Gazette 31 March 2005). These services are vital to the survival of both human and nonhuman life and include filtering water and providing nutrient rich soils and ocean waters. Many of the members of these various ecosystems are also decreasing in numbers. In a British survey of bird populations found that in the 200 birds of Britain tracked there was about a 54% population decrease between the 1968-1971 tacking period and the 1988-1991 tacking period. In two other surveys of 254 native plant species from the...