What is Sustainable Development?

Our planet is currently facing grave dangers in the form of climate change and global warming. Resources are depleting at a rapid rate and mass extinctions of species are on the rise. This is one among the, if not the foremost global issue of our times. We cannot underestimate its importance since what we do now about this crisis will decide the fate of our future generations and the existence of life itself on our planet.

It is in this context that sustainable development is propounded as a measure that can greatly better the quality of all human life as well as ensures better protection for the planet. Sustainable development refers to principles for development that we can follow to ensure that our current needs are met without us compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. It places great importance on healthy sustenance of the natural systems and ecological conditions that we have which ensures the prosperity of humankind as well. Without them, our societies would not be able to survive as they currently are.

low angle photo of airplane
Photo by Sam Willis on Pexels.com

This is absolutely essential because we have come dangerously close to irreversibly depleting the resources that we take from nature. With the industrial revolution and Capitalism taking a stronghold of our cultures in the last century, our focus was generally bent on mass production and profit. Materialism and consumer culture greatly encouraged and solidified this move. The need for progress, the development of cities that were built without proper planning, the rise of the use-and-throw culture, the large scale production of materials that do not naturally decompose, and poor waste management plans all led to a situation where nature was suffering from being indiscriminately exploited. Large scale mining, unprecedented deforestation that clears up entire woodlands, using up of non-renewable resources that cannot be replaced in the same quantity simultaneously at the rate of consumption are all situations where human intervention is disrupting the natural equilibrium. These states of harmony and equilibrium are vital for sustenance of all kinds of life and man cannot hope to progress as a species at the cost of using up every resource available. This will only lead to his extinction as well.

The United Nations Development Programme announced 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015. This includes goals such as eradication of poverty and hunger, gender equality, good health, and gender equality, while also aiming at better protection of natural resources on land and in water, climate action, clean water, responsible consumption and production, sustainable communities, etc. This was done to create a better environment and living conditions for all of humanity by 2030, fast-tracking progress for the communities who were behind. SDGs are for all the countries in the world.

A developmental method by which man and nature can co-exist well is the need of the hour, and sustainable development moves ahead with these goals. It seeks to redeem much of what has been lost and protect what we have now so that our existence will not be threatened, but also for the sake of the flora, fauna and the resources and ecosystems surrounding us. If we are to have a future where we do not need to pay for water and buy air, where lives can be led in ways not threatening to nature, we are to work towards more sustainable modes of progress and development.

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