Sustainable Development? But, For Whom?

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When looked from space, Earth is a beautiful planet – there are continents and oceans, and there are no countries and borders.

From space one can see vanishing rainforests, melting ice caps and expanding deserts – they have no respect for borders, because there are no borders. They engulf us all.

Earth is one planet of its kind, and the only home we have at present.

It was in 1962, with the publication of Silent Spring, a book by Rachel Carson, that the environmental movement to protect our planet began. She documented ill effects of pesticide such as DDT on environment, and raised concern about malpractices adopted by chemical companies.

In 1972, UN held a conference on Human Environment, at Stockholm. Same year USA banned DDT, and India enacted Wildlife Protection Act.

But, the concept of Sustainable Development was not yet on the table until 1987, when the Brundtland Commission, in its report named “our common future” gave a widely used definition of sustainable development:

“development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

It is apparent from the definition that ‘future generations’ mean human race.

The question is, sustainable development for whom? only for human race?

With glaring inequalities everywhere, for whom does within human race the concept of sustainable development apply?

And what about our planet? its environment – flora and fauna?

In the neoliberal world we are living in, the concept of sustainability is twisted to meet the demands of businesses.

Sustainable economy, sustainable agriculture and sustainable markets: they all sustain poverty, malnutrition, and inequality.

After the publication of Brundtland report, UN held Earth Summit in 1992. It adopted Agenda 21, Rio Declaration and formed Commission on Sustainable Development.

Since then little has changed in the attitude of nations and industries, and much has changed in our climate and environment.

Carrying capacity of the earth is being tested to limits, the list of endangered species of plants and animals is growing, pollution of atmosphere and ocean is increasing, yet there has been little action to mitigate or avert impending dangers to our own existence.

Governments encourage businesses either under lobbyists’ pressure or in the hope that they bring development. But at what cost?

Both environment and people without power suffer in the end. When disaster strikes, the powerful will have means to escape, but the poor will perish.

Sustainable development doesn’t apply to poor tribes, it doesn’t apply to the forest they live in and worship.

Earth as a whole must be cared for, and united action by nations remembering for a moment that they live on a borderless planet is what needed to sustain the planet and its inhabitants.

Conflict between rich and poor countries, rich and poor people only make earth poor and unsustainable.