Economy Basic Concepts Part 5 – Sustainable Development

Sustainable Development

  1. Sustainable development is the concept of needs and limitations imposed by technology and society on the environment’s ability to meet the present and future needs.
  2. It states that we should grow in such a manner that growth and resources can be sustained

The definition given by UN World Commission on environment and development (WECD, 1987), It was chaired by Brundtland Commission.

  1. “The development that meets the needs of present generation without comprising the ability of future generation to meet their own needs”, It calls for the intergenerational equity.
  2. Thus, the concept of sustainable development provides a framework for the integration of environmental policies and development strategies having implications at international, national regional and local levels.
  3. Development should not endanger the natural systems that support life on earth.


Many people in the industrial world today operate with the frontier mentality, which is a human-centred view based on the three erroneous basic ideas:

  1. The world has an unlimited supply of resources for human use;
  2. Humans are apart from nature, and
  3. Nature is something to overcome.

The concept is

  1. With this attitude towards nature, technologically advanced increase our ability to use earth’s resourced and thus, increase the damage.
  2. Hence, the concept of sustainable development leads us to new resource consumption strategies, which are:
  3. Conservation or reduction of excessive resource use,
  4. Recycling and reuse of materials and more use of renewable resources like solar energy rather than non-renewable resources such as oil and coal
  5. Sustainable development also requires meeting the basic needs of all deprived people in this world and extending to all, the opportunities to satisfy their aspirations for a better life.
  6. . Otherwise, the world, in which poverty and inequity are endemic, will always be prone to ecological and other crisis.
  7. In Gandhiji’s word, “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need but not any man’s greed.”

The view of frontier society and the concept of sustainable society are compared in below

Equity and the Common Interest

  1. Ecological interactions do not respect the boundaries of individual ownership and political jurisdictions.
  2. For example, the irrigation practices, pesticides, and fertilizers used on farm affect the productivity of the neighbouring ones, especially among small farms.
  3. The interdependence of various components of the earth was recognized to some extent by traditional social systems.
  4. This enforced practices such as community control over agriculture or traditional rights relating to water, forests and land.
  5. But with the surge of technological progress the responsibilities of decision-making are being taken away from traditional communities.
  6. Interdependence is not simply a local phenomenon. Rapid growth in production has extended it to the international plane with both physical and economic manifestation.
  7. There are growing global and regional environmental hazards such as over-consumption of fossil fuels leading to global warming or excessive use of chlorofluorocarbons leading to depletion of ozone layer.
  8. Inequalities sharpen when a system approaches ecological limits. For example, when urban air quality deteriorates, the poor, living in vulnerable areas suffer more health damage than the rich.
  9. Who lives in a cleaner neighbourhood and also have the means to find a remedy or when mineral resources become depleted.
  10. Late-comers to the industrialization process loss the benefits of cheap raw materials.
  11. Globally, wealthy nations are better placed financially and technologically to cope with the effects of resource depletion and environmental degradation.
  12. We can say that our inability to promote the common interest in sustainable development is often a product of the neglect of economic and social justice within and amongst the nations.
  13. However, the search for common interests would be less difficult if all developmental and environmental problems are tackled in totality for the betterment of whole mankind.
  14. Also, our growing knowledge of global interconnection would create a more thoughtful approach to development.

 A term to remember

Carrying capacity

It is the capacity of the environment to absorb the adverse impact of human activity.

Features of sustainable development       

  1. Increase in real GDP
  2. Improvement in well being
  3. Conservation of environment
  4. Increase in real GDP
  5. Economic growth means an increase in Real GDP. Economic growth means there is an increase in national output and national income.
  6. Economic growth is caused by two main factors:
  7. an increase in aggregate demand
  8. an increase in aggregate supply (productive capacity)

Demand-side causes

In the short term, economic growth is caused by an increase in aggregate demand (AD).

If there is spare capacity in the economy then an increase in AD will cause a higher level of real GDP.

AD= C + I + G + X- M

C= Consumer spending

I = Investment

G = Government spending

X = Exports

M = Import

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