DELVING MORE DEEPLY INTO SUSTAINABILITY
What is sustainable development?
Development is about change. Every time a new product is introduced,
and people buy it and use it, the world changes a little bit. When
a government builds a new hospital, or road, or introduces a new scheme
for education, the world changes. When a product is modified, or a
policy modified, the world changes.
All changes or developments are designed to make the world a better
place. Unfortunately many changes make life better in the short term,
but in the long term have consequences which can make life worse. Consider
the car, for example. Private cars make it easier for those who can
afford them to travel wherever they want whenever they want. But cars
use up raw materials, which have to be extracted and processed - steel,
aluminium, plastics. This uses lots of energy and can cause pollution.
So does manufacturing the car. Using a car requires petrol or oil - and
the world is running out of oil. Again, this causes pollution. Cars
are much safer to drive than they used to be but there are still many
accidents that cause injury to pedestrians and cyclists. Although the
car industry is doing much more than previously about recycling (to
conform to new legislation from the European Union), disposal of old
cars is still a problem. And as more people have cars so more roads
get blocked, causing delays, expense and frustration for motorists.
There are costs as well as benefits from the widespread use of cars.
The driving idea behind sustainable development is that the changes
that meet the needs of people today should not prejudice the opportunities
of future generations to meet their needs. It means taking a long-term
view about the impact of new products, technologies and systems. If
we do this we can begin to address the big issues of climate change,
poverty, hunger, pollution.