There are a few ideas of what sustainable development is but there is one meaning everyone agrees on. At its core sustainable development is development that benefits the present without compromising the future. It’s about using resources smartly to make them last as long as possible.
There are two key concepts to the idea of sustainable development. The first concept is “needs”. That is to say; the needs of the present. There should be special attention paid to the needs of the poorest countries and these needs should be the priority. The other part is keeping in mind the limitations that technology and society place on how well the environment can adjust and adapt to the needs of the people. Sustained development is also about working with the world to make things better for everyone.
So just what are the needs of society?
The main one is clean air of course. You can’t develop anything if you can’t breathe. China is a good example of what happens when development isn’t sustainable. Areas with a lot of industry in China, and other developing countries, have terrible air quality that kills far too many people.
This is one reason that developing countries need to be placed above others. That and they may not have the money needed to achieve sustainable development.
We also need plant life to give us food and oxygen. So the environment needs to be protected. Throw in the need for energy and transportation as well.
All of these needs might not sound like they’re hard to maintain, but they are when you take a closer look.
Transportation messes with air quality for a start. Energy can be bad as well. We’re reaching the point where we need to rely on nuclear power but is it really sustainable? Many would argue that it’s too dangerous. The same applies to other non-renewable energy sources.
Everyone knows fossil fuels aren’t sustainable but we also still rely very heavily on them.
The Long Game
Sustainable development is also all about the long game and making a sacrifice or two now to save the future. Third world countries may be damaging the environment and using precious resources now. But they need to do this to develop and reach the point they don’t rely on them anymore.
It’s all about looking at the future as well as the present and accepting you might need to make sacrifices to make future gains. It’s a sacrifice to get rid of your gas guzzler and get a hybrid or electric car. You might not see the impact of such a change in your life time either. But those small changes all add up. If everyone switched off of gas and petrol we’d see the results a lot quicker.
You can see why sustainable development is necessary for the future of the planet. There’s still a lot of kinks to work out, but the more people try the more they succeed.