Since from the beginning, the phenomenon of globalization has captured world
attention in various ways. The tremendous change in the countries caused erosion
of environmental quality to a large extent. Hence the concept of sustainable
development has gained importance since Rio Declaration.
The central purpose of
it is to create an enabling environment in which all human beings lead secure
and creative lives. This paper focuses on the adverse effect of globalization on
environment, and the need for sustainable development of environment with the
industrial growth. The concept of sustainable development has undergone various
developmental phases since its introduction.
The historical development of the concept saw participation of various
organizations and institutions, which nowadays work intensely on the
implementation of its principles and objectives. The concept has experienced
different critiques and interpretations over the time while being accepted in
different areas of human activity, and the definition of sustainable development
has become one of the most cited definitions in the literature.
In its development, the concept has been adapting to the contemporary
requirements of a complex global environment, but the underlying principles and
goals, as well as the problems of their implementation, remained almost
unchanged. Still, some goals have been updated, and the new goals were set.
These goals are united in the framework of the Millennium Development Goals 2015
which outline the challenges that humanity has to fight not only to achieve
sustainable development but to survive on Earth as well.
Overall development of humanity over the last decades has led to the
increasingly unfavorable climate changes and natural disasters, but also wars
and political and socio-economic instability. Through their action, humans have
negatively impacted on the environment, endangering the survival of the Earth
and the future generations.
These conditions have indicated changes in the
behavior aiming towards more rational and efficient management of all resources
that will allow less pressure and environmental impact. Such responsible
behavior that will ensure the long-term exploitation of resources, without
jeopardizing future generations is considered within the concept of sustainable
development evolving in the 70s and especially in the 80s of the last century.
The concept of sustainable development is based on the concept of development
(socio-economic development in line with ecological constraints), the concept of
needs (redistribution of resources to ensure the quality of life for all) and
the concept of future generations (the possibility of long-term usage of
resources to ensure the necessary quality of life for future generations).
essence of the concept of sustainable development derives from the Triple bottom
line concept, which implies the balance between three pillars of sustainability-environmental sustainability focused on maintaining the quality of the
environment which is necessary for conducting the economic activities and
quality of life of people, social sustainability which strives to ensure human
rights and equality, preservation of cultural identity, respect for cultural
diversity, race and religion, and economic sustainability necessary to maintain
the natural, social and human capital required for income and living standards.
Complete sustainable development is achieved through a balance between all these
pillars, however, the required condition is not easy to achieve, because in the
process of achieving its goals each pillar of sustainability must respect the
interests of other pillars not to bring them into imbalance. So, while a certain
pillar of sustainable development becomes sustainable, others can become
unsustainable, especially when it comes to ecological sustainability, on which
the overall capacity of development depends.
Inner and Outer Limits of Sustainable Development:
The noted environmentalist and a devoted protagonist of sustainable development,
Barbara Ward, first coined the words inner and outer limits of sustainability'
to express the different limiting forces that works against sustainable
development. The inner limits are always re�flected by the internal
socio-economic inequality within the population while outer limits are social
Beyond these two limits, sustainable development cannot sustain, it
breaks down suddenly. Social disharmony and inequality among inhabitants lead to
environmental disorder, war, social tensions or ethnic conflict.
To break or broaden the outer and inner limit of growth certain measures are
- Present pattern of production and consumption should be in accordance
with strict environment norms, so that it could be both socially and
- Inequality among people should be minimized.
- Enhancing creativity and sensitivity, so that life-style and activities
should be di�verse and people would get plenty of consumption choices.
- Ethical and moral values should be preserved and mass education should
be im�plemented to curb materialistic consumption.
- Participation of the people in the decision-making process.
- Diversification of economy to enable the population to select their
- Poverty alleviation programme and eradication of economic imbalance.
Recent Efforts for Sustainable Development:
The Norway Round Table, in 1995, laid down some basic principles on sustainable
To achieve the goal of sustainable development, the convention uttered:
The use of goods and services that respond to basic needs and bring a better
quality of life, while minimizing the use of natural resources, toxic materials
and emissions of waste and pollutants over the life cycle, so as not to
jeopardize the needs of future generations
Regarding the identification of problems of sustainability and recommending the
way out, the convention pointed out some key aspects:
- Unsustainable consumption pattern is more visible in physical
infrastructures like energy, housing, transport and waste management.
Cultural habits and societal outlook is responsible for that.
- The business and industrialist community has specific role to manage
environ�mental impacts of the goods and services it provides.
- Political institutions have a role to change consumption pattern rather
than con�sumption volumes.
- For rectification in chain of production-consumption and final disposal
govern�ment must provide incentive measures, infrastructural facilities,
proper leader�ship and legislative regulations.
- Responsible organizations like trade unions must involve themselves in
the agenda of consumption and production pattern change.
- Individuals have the great role in different aspects like consumer,
householder, worker, decision-maker and even as voter.
Sustainable development (SD) refers to a model of human development in which
resource use aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that
these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for generations to
The term sustainable development
was used by the Brundtland Commission
(1987) which coined what has become the most often-quoted definition of
sustainable development development that meets the needs of the present without
compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Sustainable development does not focus solely on environmental issues. The
United Nations 2005 World Summit Outcome Document refers to the four
'interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars' of sustainable development as
including: economic development, social development and environmental
protection. The fourth pillar is indigenous people and culture.
Proponents of Sustainable Development argue that it provides a context in which
overall sustainability is improved where cutting edge Green development is
unattainable. For example, a cutting edge treatment plant with extremely high
maintenance costs may not be sustainable in regions of the world with fewer
An environmentally ideal plant that is shut down due to bankruptcy is obviously
less sustainable than one that is maintainable by the community, even if it is
somewhat less effective from an environmental standpoint.
During the last ten years, different organizations have tried to measure and
monitor the proximity to what they consider sustainability by implementing what
has been called sustainability metric and indices. Sustainable development is
said to set limits on the developing world. While current developed countries
pollute significantly during their development, the same countries encourage
developing countries to reduce pollution, which sometimes impedes growth.
Environmental sustainability is the process of making sure that the current
processes of interaction with environment is pursued with the idea of keeping
the environment as pristine as naturally possible based on ideal-seeking
behavior. An unsustainable situation
occurs when natural capital (the sum
total of nature's resources) is used up faster than it can be replenished.
Sustainability requires that human activity only use nature's resources at a
rate, which they can be replenished naturally. Inherently, the concept of
sustainable development is intertwined with the concept of carrying capacity.
Theoretically, the long-term result of environmental degradation is the
inability to sustain human life. Such degradation on a global scale could imply
extinction for humanity.
Equitable Use of Resources for Sustainable Development
Sustainable development basically means that the process of development needs to
be sustained or the development of a region should be planned in such a manner
that it should go on for a quite long time. Therefore, it calls for planned or
judicious utilization of available limited resources with least possible
degra�dation of environment while maintaining quality of life at the same time.
In other words, the development of a region is a limited process or has limits
to growth, based on availability of natural resources, rather than keeping it
under constant degradation state, in order to meet needs/comforts of human
popula�tion and industrial/economic centers.
The commission on environment and development in its report Our Common Future
defined sustainable development as development that meets the needs of the
present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their
However, economists define sustainable development as being an economic process
in which the quantity and quality of our stock of natural resources (like
forests) and integrity of biogeochemical cycles (like climate) are sustainable
and passes on to the future generation unimpaired. In other words, there is no
depreciation of world's natural capital. Closely associated with sustainable
development are the concepts of carrying capacity and green accounting.
Carrying capacity of a region/system could be described broadly as number of
individuals of a species that it can sustain. In case of human beings, it is
rather a complex situation, wherein the region/system has not only to bear the
load of his basic needs but also all other associated activities including
industrial/de�velopmental projects which has direct impact on limited natural
base and envi�ronmental quality. The carrying capacity can be divided into two
parts i.e. sup�porting capacity and assimilative capacity.
The supporting capacity of a region/system provides an assessment of the stock
of available resources with their regenerative capacity on natural/sustainable
basis. The assimilative component of carrying capacity is an assessment of the
maximum amount of pollution load that can be discharged without violating the
best designated use of these basic components of environment.
The carrying capacity of a region/system thus gets affected if we use resource
base beyond regenerative capability of their supporting capacity or if
discharge/ generation of pollutants/waste products is not within the
Green accounting is a widely prevalent concept both in developed and develop�ing
countries. It underlines basically the same principles as enumerated in
con�cepts of sustainable development and carrying capacity i.e. use of natural
re�sources base in planned and judicious manner without impacting (or minimum
impacting) the quality of environment.
However, it conveys by providing us an economic interpretation of both resource
base and environment quality as against the conventional accounting in terms of
GDP (Gross Domestic Product). It pre�cisely gives us a uniform level by
converting both natural resource base and environmental quality in monetary
terms, therefore, making the task easier for planners and policy makers to
formulate further programmes/strategies of de�velopment.
Important Measures for Sustainable Development
Carrying capacity has two basic components:
Using appropriate technology is one which is locally adaptable, eco-friendly,
resource efficient and culturally suitable. It mostly involves local resources
and local labour. Indigenous technologies are more useful, cost-effective and
sustainable. Nature is often taken as a model, using the natural conditions of
that region as its components. This concept is known as design with nature.
The technology should use less of resources and should produce minimum waste.
- Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle Approach:
The 3-R approach advocating minimization of resource use, using them again and
again instead of passing it on to the waste stream and recycling the materials
goes a long way in achieving the goals of sustainability. It reduces pressure on
our resources as well as reduces waste generation and pollution.
- Promoting Environmental Education and Awareness:
Making environmental education the center of all learning process will greatly
help in changing the thinking pattern and attitude of people towards our earth
and the environment. Introducing subject right from the school stage will
inculcate a feeling of belongingness to earth in small children. 'Earth
thinking' will gradually get incorporated in our thinking and action which will
greatly help in transforming our lifestyles to sustainable ones.
- Resource Utilization as Per Carrying Capacity:
Any system can sustain a limited number of organisms on a long-term basis which
is known as its carrying capacity. In case of human beings, the carrying
capacity concept becomes all the more complex. It is because unlike other
animals, human beings, not only need food to live, but need so many other things
to maintain the quality of life. Sustainability of a system depends largely upon
the carrying capacity of the system. If the carrying capacity of a system is
crossed (say, by over exploitation of a resource), environmental degradation
starts and continues till it reaches a point of no return.
- Supporting capacity i.e. the capacity to regenerate
- Assimilative capacity i.e. the capacity to tolerate different stresses
In order to attain sustainability, it is very important to utilize the resources
based upon the above two properties of the system. Consumption should not exceed
regeneration and changes should not be allowed to occur beyond the tolerance
capacity of the system.
- Improving Quality of Life Including Social, Cultural and Economic
Development should not focus just on one-section of already affluent people.
Rather it should include sharing of benefits between the rich and the poor. The
tribal, ethnic people and their cultural heritage should also be conserved.
Strong community participation should be there in policy and practice.
Population growth should be stabilized.
To conclude, although industrialization is seen as a solution to providing
economic growth and increasing economic levels, all inevitably produce
discharges and wastes that are capable of polluting. Where high population and
economic growth demands resources and discharges in the form of pollutants, not
industries have arrived at suitable suggestions on sustainable measures, thus
putting pressure on the environment.
The phenomenon of globalization has led
governments and individuals to realize the international and trans-boundary
dimensions of environmental issues, which later led to recognize the concept of
sustainable development. The WTO, which is considered as an apex institution in
matters of international trade also aims to protect the environment while
encouraging the international trade.
The Rio Declaration brought together some concepts like polluters pay principle;
inter-generational equity, etc., to reserve and preserve the environment for
future generation with sustainable growth of the industries. But self-awareness
of protection of environment and preserving it for future generation is the need
for the hour.
Written By: Mohd. Amaan
- Amity University Lucknow