How can we Foster Sustainable Development in our Community?– The very Basics

Posted on May 13, 2010

Kush Kalra:

Today we are in a world which is progressing at a very fast rate. Development has no bounds and technology is changing every now and then. Life has become complex and busy. Man utilizes the natural resources for his selfish development and with every step he puts forward, he looks back to hear the nature cry. The world today is gloomed in the darkest anxiety of development and is at the same time rupturing the nature. Today, we hardly have rains, instead, we have floods and droughts, instead of fertile soil we are left with problem of soil erosion and such other problems, all this and more because of the activities of man to attain his selfish desire. It is true that human societies cannot remain static and the aspirations and expectations that comprise a part of the needs constantly shift, but that development should not be for some or a few rather it should be for the wholesome development of all. Hence, at this point it is very important for us to know what sustainable development is. One thing that we need to remember is that we cannot expect growth in one night, as the famous quote states ‘Rome was not built in a day’ and at the same time we cannot construct the first floor of the building without having a strong foundation. Similarly, development cannot be random; rather it should be a step by step process in an organized manner. The concept is centered at one point i.e., we should not destroy the present nature and damage the life of our future generations.

Sustainable development is defined as “development that meets the needs of current generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs and aspirations.”

From the Gandhian postulation, the ground rules for sustainable development could be constructed as under:

1. CONSERVATION: Preservation and nurturing and the vital resources, that still remain, is the sine qua non for good environmental management. Conservation as an idea is not merely confined to retaining whatever that is left, but involves a whole range of activities aimed at rejuvenation and propagation.

2. PROTECTION: Securing the resource and insulating it from any shocks of destruction and degradation is in contemplation here.

3. NON-DEGRADATION: Ensuring that the intrinsic quality of the resources is not lost, while putting the same to use, and constitutes the basic tenet of proper and scientific resource use.

4. ADMINISTRATION that is TRANSPARENT, ACCOUNTABLE and PARTICIPATORY is a major requirement. This acknowledges the fact that the resources will not manage themselves  and finding local solutions to environmental problems would ensure effective and efficient environmental management.

5. LAW, POLICY AND PRACTICE in environmental management should emerge from and evolve out of people’s needs and compulsions and be the result of crystallized home spun wisdom.

6. EQUITABLE SHARING OF BENEFITS is another underlying principle of good environmental governance, and

7. CONFLICT AVOIDANCE AND CONSENSUS BUILDING THROUGH CONSULTATIVE PROCESSES in Environmental decision-making is the crowning aspect of the system of administration. The litmus test for the existence of a healthy and wholesome environment, in any system, depends upon the internalization of these principles in the legal ordering.


* Reducing energy consumption in the homes and thereby contribute to reduction of Green House Gases;
* Cutting down on (private) transportation and thereby contribute to ambient air quality;
* Buying environmental-friendly home and personal care products to promote cleaner livelihoods;
* Cutting down on water use and waste in homes;
* Use of nuclear power is very economical and releases enormous amount of energy, e.g., 1g of U-235 can release 6.2×10(6) J of energy.
* The Government should also promote such education at school level involving all students, parents and the staff encouraging them to plant more trees in their neighborhood and make them more vigilant.
* Preventing loss of vegetation, selective felling of trees, social forestry, setting up national parks and sanctuaries, breeding rare species in zoos, preventing hunting and smuggling of rare birds and animals, preventing trade in animal products.
* Soil erosion can be checked by building bunds, plugging gullies, strip cropping and planting shelter belts.
* Minerals and energy resources can be conserved by using improved mining technology to minimize wastage during extraction, judicious and selective mining, recycling metallic minerals like iron, tin, aluminum etc. by reusing discarded objects made of these substances, using cheaper and more abundant alternatives of scarce minerals, for example, using aluminum in place of copper in the electrical industry, using inexhaustible sources of power instead of exhaustible sources, and undertaking exploration to identify areas with good reserves, where mining will be economically viable.
* Say “No” to polythene bags, “Yes” to cloth, jute and paper bags.
* Government should also initiate frequent cleanliness drives and as much youth participation as possible should be encouraged in such drives.

The writer is a correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.

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