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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The concept of sustainability and the sustainable environment

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The World Commission on Environment and Development (WECD) reported in 1987 –‘the present decade (1980s) has been marked by a retreat from social concerns. Scientists bring to our attention urgent but complex problems bearing on our survival: a warming globe, threats to the earth’s ozone layer, deserts consuming agricultural land. We respond by demanding more details, and by assigning the problems to institutions ill equipped to cope with them.’

The decade of 1980s observed a number of new discoveries like-

(i) Measurement of the size of ozone hole by British Researchers in 1985,

(ii)The U.S. Government’s Report entitled Global-2000, recognized that species extinction was threatening biodiversity,

(iii) Adoption of World Charter for Nature by the General Assembly of United Nations (1982) ,made clear that environment and development were interdependent, and

(iv) The realization of intrinsic values of Species and Ecosystems through the World Charter for Nature (1982).

In spite of these developments the decade of 1980s experienced severe industrial accidents that left permanent marks on environment and human health.

Some examples are mentioned below-
A. The leakage of the Methyl Iso Cynate (MIC) in 1984 from one of the Union Carbide’s plants located in Bhopal, India killed 3000 people and 2000 injured .

B. Up to one million people died of hunger in Ethiopia during the same year.

C.The world’s worst nuclear accident occurred when a reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, exploded in the Ukrainian Republic of Soviet Union.

D. The spill of 50 million Litres of oil from Exxon Valdez super tanker into Alaska’s Prince William in 1989 reflected that even the remotest areas on the globe are unsafe due to human activities.

A World Industry Conference was organized in 1984 by United Nations in Canada. It was the first attempt to provide a code of conduct for sound management in the business sector. As a result of this the concept of Sustainable Development and Eco- friendly Technology was introduced in the development area.

To make the environment sustainable, a number of measures are necessary to be taken up by the people and government across the globe. Some of these measures are- use of efficient and eco-friendly technologies, sustainable use of resources and adoption of indigenous practices like keeping of sacred groves.


It is being felt that the process of modern development id defective one. It is creating various types of stresses on the environment due to which a number of local, regional and global problems have emerged out that challenge the existence of human beings and other organisms on this planet.

Some of the created due to stress caused on environment by modern developments are being listed below-

(1) Destruction of forests.

(2) Falling underground water table.

(3) Rise in global temperature and climate change.

(4) Extinction of animal and plant species.

(5) Large scale migration of people.

(6) Great financial inequality.

(7) Reduction in the means of livelihood for the poor.

(8) Scarcity of food.

(9) Increasing number of disaster.

Besides above mentioned problems the process of modern development is creating economic inequalities. In view of these problems it is thought that the current process of development cannot go for long. That means it is unsustainable.

Keeping in mind the unsustainable nature of modern development, scientists and environmentalists the world over has thought out a new model of development called as sustainable development.

Such a new model of development which benefits every individual, safeguards environmental rights of every citizen and which may keep the natural environment in a perfectly balanced state is called as sustainable development.

Key Words:WECD,  sustainability, sustainable development, co-friendly technology

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