Sustainable development refers to the idea that the current human societies should live within means that meet their needs without depleting resources for future generations. They should leave the environment with the ability to sustain future generations. It is a way of organizing and planning society for long-term existence beyond the here and now. To simply put it, it takes into account the needs of both the present and the future, thereby preserving the environment and existing natural resources through economics and social equity.
The concept of sustainable growth arose during the second half of the 19th century after the industrial revolution. Nations in Europe began realizing that their industrial and economic impacts have a significant effect on the environment and society at large. They foresaw that utilizing the existing natural resources would badly impact future generations, leaving them with no resources to sustain their needs. Therefore, they began raising awareness on the importance of developing a more sustainable growth model that would keep the needs of future generations in mind.
Over the centuries, the idea of sustainable growth keeps on developing. From the preservation of natural resources to the use of renewable forms of energy, humankind is taking a step each day to ensuring that future generations have something to sustain themselves.
What are The Pillars?
For humanity to achieve sustainable expansion, three key pillars ensure the planet’s sustainability in the future. The three pillars are:
- Society (people)- which means supporting the people. Here, the main goal is to ensure that the members of society are living a quality of life free from hunger and poverty.
- Economy (profits)- which means the ability of society to support itself financially. Everyone should be able to earn a living, and this can be achieved through gender equality and empowerment through education, and the creation of jobs and other opportunities.
- Environment (planet)- Here, the primary goal is to ensure that the natural resources are protected. Things like water, forests, minerals, wildlife, and other resources should be safeguarded against depletion.
In the modern world, sustainable growth is mainly discussed in terms of climate change. Climatic changes brought about by two decades of industrialization seem to threaten life on earth. The more industries produce more products, the more pollutants are released into the environment. All this pollution, air pollution, water pollution, and soil pollution lead to the death of plants and animals, global warming, among other dire consequences. That presents a threat to life on the planet as it is now.
Many government agencies, non-governmental agencies, non-profit organizations, and international organizations advocate for sustainable growth. The most notable ones include the United Nations (UN), which advocates for sustainable environmental and natural resources. The UN has set sustainable growth and development goals, which it aims to achieve by the year 2030. These goals are directed toward improving the quality of life by eradicating poverty, hunger and improving health, education, and gender equality. Other private organizations work to promote it in different ways.
Technology is one of the methods different organizations and private entities are using to ensure sustainable growth. The most notable one is the development of electric cars to reduce the use of fossil fuels. Besides, the move by big companies to use solar panels and wind power for power is a giant step towards achieving sustainable and lasting development. Besides, these big companies keep on promoting gender equality and helping those in need through donations and philanthropic work.
Several challenges impact sustainable growth, such as war and conflict between nations, corruption, embezzlement, and political instability.
Sustainable development refers to the concept of human societies living within means that ensure the continuity and survival of future generations. It requires the current generation to put in mind the needs of future generations. Sustainable growth and development can be achieved by ensuring that the current environment and resources are protected to serve the current and future generations better.