Sustainable Development is a philosophy that has been adopted by hundreds if not thousands of the world's most developed nations. Simply put, sustainable development is the idea that economic growth comes about when natural resources are used in a sustainable way. Resource depletion and degradation occur because of all of the activities that we undertake on a day to day basis, such as resource depletion from extracting fossil fuels, and pollution that result from the use of many forms of energy, as well as other human activities such as fishing, mining, pesticides, and other practices. A theory of sustainable development was first put forward by the World Wildlife Fund and the United Nations Environment Program.
Since the early 1980's, sustainable development theory has been used to promote the reduction of poverty and improve the lot of the people in the developing world. Economists argue that sustainable development is important for the world's future because of the finite nature of the earth's resources. In fact, there is only so much of it available. The world is in an age where unlimited natural resources are virtually running out.
The idea behind sustainable development is that the present level of economic growth will not be enough to insure the future needs of the world's poor. Therefore, some argue that it is important to strive for development that leads to longer periods of growth and not necessarily an endless process. They also fear that sustainability is being threatened by climate change and the degradation of the environment. They point to the fact that in today's world, the possibility of rebuilding the planet after the current climate change crisis looks slim.
The advocates of sustainable development believe that the present policies currently being implemented by the developed world are not effective enough in reducing poverty and environmental degradation. They therefore call for a drastic reduction in the level of economic growth while continuing to work on the issues of environmental degradation. However, this kind of a program would require a drastic reduction in the rate of economic activity, something that is currently not possible. In fact, any serious attempt at sustainable development would have to be accompanied by very rapid expansion of economic activity. Such actions would put tremendous stress on the already strained financial systems of the world.
Without drastic measures being taken towards sustainable development, the chances of the present world economic crisis being repeated in the near future are quite high. In addition to this, a collapse of the political status quo may lead to a catastrophic financial meltdown that could engulf the world's economies even further. The chances of the current global warming being allowed to continue unchecked would also increase.
The proponents of sustainable development believe that the present attempts at economic growth at the global scale are simply not enough to guarantee the protection of the environment. They therefore call for a renewed commitment to sustainable development from all parties concerned. They believe that a combination of economic growth with adequate measures to protect the environment would result in a more stable and secure environment.
It is argued by some that there are too many vested interests among the major economies that would be hard pressed to agree on sustainable development. The call for a greater sense . . . . . . of commitment by all countries involved in the process would therefore be successful in pushing through the needed changes. A better environmental agreement at the Paris Conference can only be interpreted as an enormous step forward in the process of sustainable development. All the signatories to the accord should pressurize each other for a more ambitious and effective deal at the forthcoming conferences.
The call for sustainable development is not likely to go away quietly anytime soon. As long as industrialists around the world continue to invest in the continued production of fossil fuels and in the continued mining of precious metals, there will be little incentive for developing countries to pursue a path that promises sustainable development. The only thing that the members of the World Trade Organization can do at the end of the day is to agree on tougher rules and regulations that would pressure the members to work more seriously on environmental sustainability.