Sustainable Development is the pathway to a Sustainable Planet for future generations, while many of its eclectic mix of concepts and solutions directly and indirectly help solve Global Warming and Climate Change.
SD involves carefully and efficiently building the infrastructure element of the economy with innovative solutions and minimising waste, whilst maximising the use of all the available natural resources such as wind, sun and water. This can be achieved through construction, maintenance and retrofitting of homes, buildings, factories, offices and efficiently building roads, bridges and telecommunications. Energy, transport networks and vehicles as well as agriculture through carbon sequestration via planting trees and pastures, are all part of the SD equation. These components are or can be made more Sustainable. New Innovative SD concepts range from green field urban landscapes through to ecologically sustainable developments. Green office blocks which maximise energy efficiency will also continue to be important as will efficient building of infrastructure which cuts down waste and use less resources without compromising the integrity of the build.
Clean Energy concepts like wind, solar and hydro as well as transport options such as electric vehicles and fuel cells, are high profile concepts and are all very important. These and innovative new SD concepts will be necessary if we are going to solve Global Warming and Climate Change fast and transition to a more Sustainable Planet for future generations.
SD was first coined by academics in the 1950’s and later defined by Brundtland in 1987 as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs". Whilst inspirational, this definition is a motherhood statement on its own and outdated, as we have learned so much more since then.
Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) is the environmental component of SD and has no formal definition, but is primarily the building of rural residential and on-farm lifestyle developments in the economy. Environmental Sustainability includes biodiversity and the planting of mainly native trees and is part of ESD and SD in relation to protecting the environment. SD is mostly focused on building sustainable infrastructure in the economy, which should form the basis of a new SD definition as it is by far the biggest component.
A more comprehensive over-arching definition which incorporates the integrity of the Brundtland definition and also the ESD principles for Sustainable Development, should therefore read:
“Development which maximises the use of the available sustainable natural resources such as wind, sun and water and incorporates building sustainable infrastructure solutions, while carefully and efficiently minimising waste and enhancing our environment wherever possible, all achieved with positive economic growth outcomes, whilst continuing to address the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Redefining the SD definition provides the public with a more concise, understandable and actionable message and the world should therefore be able to achieve Universal peace as everyone would have a common goal for a more Sustainable Planet achieved through a renaissance in learning about SD and its concepts and solutions in the coming decades.
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