It concerns preserving environment and natural resources as a basis for progress and making policy. Secure tenure over land and resources by all segments of society and particularly by poor has been identified as a critical enabling condition for this to occur.
Tenure is thought to be essential for eradication of extreme poverty, improved environmental stewardship and reduced resource consumption (Deininger et al., 2003). Laws and customs defining tenure are complex and difficult to understand relative to more simplistic measures of development like poverty rates, literacy levels or biodiversity.
OECD has worked to incorporate SD perspectives into its work since the notion was introduced in 1987 by World Commission on Environment and Development. The concept of SD recognizes global co-operation for achieving sustainable economic, environmental and social conditions worldwide. Governments should enable them to align economic, environmental and social pillars of sustainable development in decision-making.
There is also the challenge of forecasting future costs and benefits of actions taken today. Guidance appears to be lacking on how countries can develop coherent SD policies taking into account their likely impact on other nations.
Significant progress has been made in increasing multidisciplinary work on different policies related to SD. Most OECD governments now have national Strategies (NSDS) in place. Countries agreed to prepare these strategies as part of Agenda 21, signed at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992.
Different countries have different concepts and measures of sustainable development because of their different natural attributes, industrial structure, political and social environment and other variables.
A country’s economy may rely heavily on marine fisheries and such country is likely to see a sustainable fish stocks and marine pollution levels as vital indicators for SD. Similarly some countries may be interested in soil nutrients level.
Measurement of SD, which takes account of such differences, is obviously very complex. Different sets of indicators for different groups of countries or to develop overall measurement frameworks, where selection of indicators in agreed categories could vary by country may offer a solution. ‘Environmental indicators are a yardstick for sustainable development’. Environmental indicators would play an important role in national economy.
Sustainable development should be free of environmental degradation and a balance between demands of economic development and need for protection of environment should be attempted.
To convince administrators and planners, environmental indicators should provide representative picture of environmental conditions. These should be simple, easy to interpret and be national in scope.
In preparation for the Johannesburg Summit for SD, the Ministers of the Environment of Bolivia, Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, South Africa, The Philippines and Venezuela subscribed to the Cancun Declaration of February 18, 2002. In the Declaration, the Ministers of the Environment defined a common agenda for SD and decided to create “Group of Like-Minded Mega diverse Countries” as a mechanism for consultation and cooperation to promote their interests and priorities related to preservation and sustainable biodiversity and other resources use especially with fair and equitable sharing of benefits derived from biodiversity use.
The goals of the Cancun Declaration are supportive of principles of the Convention on Biological Diversity, in line with priorities set out in each participating country’s National Biodiversity Strategic Action Plan. Each of the member countries has a set or is in process of finalizing national laws and programs aiming to achieve the above.
The Heads of State and Government of the Group met in Johannesburg, South Africa, on September 3rd, 2002, on occasion of World Summit on Sustainable Development and produced a “Declaration on Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Use”. Thereby stating their commitment with:
“…multilateralism and sustainable development worldwide, as the right path for the conservation of the environment, the development of our people, poverty alleviation and the best way to assure peace and security on Earth “.
In a spirit of cooperation and openness, they declared their intention:
“To forge new partnerships with other countries, non-governmental and community based organizations, the private sector and other stakeholders that contribute to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity”.
They also expressed their full support for consolidation of Group of Like- Minded Mega diverse Countries and achieving the objectives set in Cancun Declaration. The 15 Member States represent over 70% of planet’s wealth of plant and animal species, around 45% of world’s population and the richest cultural diversity.
However, they are “concerned over the limitations of various international instruments to protect effectively the legitimate interests of the countries of origin of biodiversity” (Cancun Declaration). The 15 members of “Group of Like-Minded Mega diverse Countries” are fully committed to conserving and sustainable using their biodiversity.
By working together and pulling resources Group expects to provide much stronger leadership, through sharing, learning and knowledge, coordinating policy and action at national and international levels, to use biodiversity for SD.
Rich natural heritage of Mega diverse Countries represents a great responsibility in terms of conservation, but also offers opportunities for development that require actions to ensure sustainable use of biodiversity.
Group’s deliberations has made evident that a holistic approach is needed to further understand issues at stake and integrate them, in order to outline a viable proposal for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use on equitable basis.
Sustainable use of biological diversity, one of the three objectives of the Convention, is essential to achieving broader goal of SD and is a cross-cutting issue relevant to all biological and natural resources.
Sustainable use entails introduction and application of methods and processes for utilization of biodiversity to prevent its long term decline, thereby maintaining its potential to meet current and future human needs and aspirations.
Fourth Open-ended Workshop for Sustainable Use of Biological Diversity was held from 6 to 8 May, 2003 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It developed a set of fourteen practical principles and operational guidelines for sustainable use of biodiversity. Results of fourth workshop were submitted to the ninth session of the Convention’s Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice for its consideration in November 2003 and subsequently forwarded to seventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-7) in February 2004. COP-7 adopted the Addis Ababa Principles and Guidelines for Sustainable Use of Biodiversity.
SD became widely used in 1990s. It deals with issues relating to environment like energy, pollution, global warming, and water. It refers to wise use of resources within a framework in which environmental, economic and social factors are integrated.
It is about maintaining and improving the quality of life, while safeguarding quality of life of generations to come. It involves a number of aspects of change (such as social, e.g., housing quality, crime; economic, e.g., jobs, income, and environmental, e.g., air quality, resource conservation).
It is appropriately packaged in relation to natural resources, biodiversity items, health and human welfare as well as aspirations for material consumption and livelihood.
Several United Nations texts, most recently the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document, refer to “interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars” of SD as economic development, social development, and environmental protection.
For some, it is closely tied to economic growth and need to find ways to expand economy in long term without using up natural capital for current growth, at cost of long term growth.
In India, SD stems from introduction of bio-gas in 1970s. It is presently associated with resource utilization, economic development, environment management, e-services, women’s empowerment, adult education, village level biodiversity register and networked villages, etc.
SD is defined as a pattern of social and economic transformations or development which optimizes economic and societal benefits available in present, without jeopardizing the likely potential for similar benefits in future. Guiding rules are that people must share with each other and care for Earth.
The essence is that humanity must take no more from nature than nature can replenish. Primary goal of SD is to achieve a reasonably equitable level of economic upliftment that can be perpetuated successively for many generations.
This ultimately means adopting lifestyles and development paths, that respect and work within nature’s limits. It can be done without rejecting many benefits that modern technology has brought, provided that technology also works within those limits.
There are over 140 definitions of sustainability and SD. The best known definition is that of World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) (Brundtland Commission), 1987. The WCED defined SD as follows:
“Sustainable development is a process in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development and institutional change are all in harmony, and enhance both current and future potential to meet human needs and aspirations “.
FAO (1989) defines it as:
“Management and conservation of the natural resource-base and the orientation of technological and institutional changes, in such a manner as to ensure the attainment and continued satisfaction of human needs for present and future generations.
Such sustainable development (in the agriculture, forestry and fishery sectors) conserves land, water, plant, and animal genetic resources, is environmentally non-degrading, technically appropriate, economically viable and socially acceptable “.
This definition certainly captures multidimensionality of sustainability particularly with respect to maintenance and management of natural ecosystem or resource-base (Gow, 1992).
However, the biggest problem is designing the appropriate technology, as well as socially and ecologically compatible policy instruments and strategies, which can bring about appropriate human behavioral changes which are necessary to realize objectives of this definition (Upreti, 1994).
There are many interpretations of sustainable development, but in general, it means:
“Human development which is ecologically, socially and economically sounds, and can be maintained over the long term.”
Most people now realize that all of these points have merit and that ecological, social and economic perspectives should be integrated for SD.