Four broad dimensions of SD are given below:

1. Economic Dimensions:

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a. Steadily reducing wasteful levels of consumption of energy and other natural resources though improvements in efficiency and through changes in lifestyles.

b. Changing consumption patterns that needlessly threaten biodiversity of other countries.

c. Providing leadership to support sustainable development in other countries.

d. Reducing import barriers or protectionist pricing policies that limit access that poor economies have to market for their products.

e. Using financial, technical and human resources to develop cleaner, less resource intensive technologies.

f. Giving more equal access to resources to all people.

g. Reducing growing disparity of incomes and access to health care.

h. Transferring money from military and state security expenditure to development needs.

i. Committing resources toward continued improvement in living standards.

j. Alleviating absolute poverty.

k. Improving access to land, education and social services.

l. Developing an efficient manufacturing sector to employ workers and produce goods for trade and consumption.

2. Human Dimensions:

a. Stabilizing population.

b. Slowing migration to cities through rural development.

c. Adopting polity measures and technologies to consequences of urbanization.

d. Improving standards for literacy.

e. Making primary health care more accessible.

f. Improving social well-being.

g. Protecting cultural diversity in capital.

h. Investing in health and education of women.

i. Encouraging participation in decision-making.

3. Environmental Dimensions:

a. More efficient use of arable lands and water supplies.

b. Improving agricultural practices and technologies to increase yields.

c. Avoiding overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

d. Conserving water by ending wasteful uses and improving efficiency of water systems.

e. Improving water quality and limiting surface water withdrawals. Conserving biodiversity by greatly slowing and, if possible, halting extinctions and habitat and ecosystem destruction. Preventing de-stabilization of climate or destruction of ozone layer by human action.

f. Protecting natural resources, need for food production and cooking fuels while expanding production to meet the needs of growing populations.

4. Technological Dimensions:

a. Shifting to technologies that are cleaner and more efficient, minimizes consumption of energy and other natural resources and do not pollute air, water or land.

b. Reducing carbon emissions to limit global rate of increase of greenhouse gases and eventually stabilize atmospheric concentrations of these gases over time, greatly curtailing use of fossil fuels, and finding other sources of energy.

c. Phasing out use of CFCs to prevent degradation of earth’s protective ozone layer.

d. Preserving traditional technologies that create few wastes or pollutants, which recycles wastes and works with or supports natural system.

e. Rapidly adopting improved technologies as well as improved government regulation and enforcement.

Number of people living in poverty (defined as living on less than a dollar a day) over the last decade has increased by 100 million, according to former Chief Economist of the World Bank Joseph Stiglitz, to 1.3 billion people (over a fifth of the world’s population). A further 1.6 billion (another quarter of world’s population) survive on less than two dollars.

Globally, about 160,000 extra people are migrating to cities from countryside every day, because rapid industrialisation of agriculture and imports of subsidised food are driving them off the land. Most migrants end up in squatter settlements or slums.

Global consumption of water is doubling every 20 years, more than twice the rate of human population growth. By 2025, demand for freshwater is expected to rise by 56 per cent, more than is currently available, causing two in every three people on the planet to face water scarcity.

According to the UN, about 1.2 billion people worldwide drink polluted water, causing hundreds of millions of cases of water-related diseases every year and over five million deaths – ten times the number of people killed in wars worldwide.

There has been a doubling in global fish catch over the last 35 years, reaching 137 million tonnes today. As a result, according to the UN, half of all fisheries are fully depleted and another 25 per cent are overfished.

The UN states that 11,046 species of plants and animals are currently endangered. These include 1,130 mammals (24 per cent of the total) and 1,183 species of birds (12 per cent of the total), as well as 5,611 species of plants. If current trends in species extinction continue, we may lose half of all earth’s plant and animal species in just 50 years time.

Weather-related disasters (such as droughts, windstorms and floods) have increased by 160 per cent between 1975 and 2001, killing 440,000 people and causing damage worth $480 billion in the 1990s alone.

World Conservation Strategy argued that development and conservation are totally interrelated and need to be addressed together. It proposed three key principles for sustainable development:

(1) To maintain essential ecological processes and life support systems upon which development and all life depends.

(2) To preserve genetic diversity, which provides the basis for agriculture, science, medicine and technical innovation and security of many industries, based on living resources?

(3) To ensure sustainable utilization of species and ecosystems which support many communities and industries?