Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Sustainable development has been defined as balancing the fulfillment of human needs with the protection of the natural environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but in the indefinite future. The term was used by the Brundtland Commission which coined what has become the most often-quoted definition of sustainable development as development that "meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

The field of sustainable development can be conceptually divided into four general dimensions: social, economic, environmental and institutional. The first three dimensions address key principles of sustainability, while the final dimension addresses key institutional policy and capacity issues.

Scheme of sustainable development: at the confluence of three preoccupations


"Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs… As such it requires the promotion of values that encourage consumption standards that are within the bounds of the ecologically possible and to which all could reasonably aspire."
(Our Common Future, WCED, 1987)

In the late 1980's the concept "sustainable development" was introduced into the environmental debate as an expression of the interdependence between the three systems identified as basic to development: the economic system, the social system, and the biophysical system.

This interdependence is illustrated by figure1. The economy exists entirely within society, because all parts of the human economy require interaction among people. Society in turn, exists entirely within the biophysical system. Although human activity is re-shaping the environment at an ever-increasing rate, society and its economic systems can never exist independent of the biophysical environment.

The most common way of illustrating sustainable development is the "three spheres/pillars" diagram (figure 2). True sustainable development is then development that meets the "triple bottom line" where all three systems interact on an equal basis. This model can be useful in showing where the interrelationships exist; for example, the interrelated activities that lie within the biophysical and socio-economic domains.

Figure 1: The interdependence model

Figure 2: The spheres of sustainable development

To achieve a harmonious relationship between these "spheres" of development certain principles have to be followed within each sphere. A set of universal principles has been identified through international consensus. To this principles specific to the development priorities of South Africa and those of the Southern African Development Community have been added.


A) Implementation

- An educated citizenry is vital to implementing informed and sustainable development.

- In fact, a national sustainability plan can be enhanced or limited by the level of education attained by the nation's citizens.

- Nations with high illiteracy rates and unskilled workforces have fewer development options.

- For the most part, these nations are forced to buy energy and manufactured goods on the international market with hard currency.

- To acquire hard currency, these countries need international trade; usually this leads to exploitation of natural resources or conversion of lands from self-sufficient family-based farming to cash-crop agriculture.

- An educated workforce is key to moving beyond an extractive and agricultural economy.

B) Decision making

- Good community-based decisions - which will affect social, economic, and environmental well-being - also depend on educated citizens.

- Development options, especially "greener" development options, expand as education increases.

- For example, a community with an abundance of skilled labor and technically trained people can persuade a corporation to locate a new information-technology and software-development facility nearby.

- Citizens can also act to protect their communities by analyzing reports and data that address community issues and helping shape a community response.

- For example, citizens who were concerned about water pollution reported in a nearby watershed started monitoring the water quality of local streams.

- Based on their data and information found on the World Wide Web, they fought against the development of a new golf-course, which would have used large amounts of fertilizer and herbicide in maintenance of the grounds.

C) Quality of life

- Education is also central to improving quality of life.

- Education raises the economic status of families; it improves life conditions, lowers infant mortality, and improves the educational attainment of the next generation, thereby raising the next generation's chances for economic and social well-being.

- Improved education holds both individual and national implications.

By Syud,fiedah,sikin,zakiah,yan,ashikin


Post a Comment