Sustainable development

Sustainable development is the need of the present time not only for the survival of mankind but also for its future protection. Unlike the other great revolutions in human history the Green Revolution and the Industrial Revolution the ‘sustainable revolution’ will have to take place rapidly, consciously and on many different levels and in many different spheres, simulta­neously.

On the technical level, for example, it will involve the sustainable technologies based upon the use of non-renewable, fossil fuels for technologies that take advantage of renewable energies like the sun, wind and biomass, the adoption of conser­vation and recycling practices on a wider scale, and the transfer of f cleaner and more energy efficient technologies to countries in the developing world.

On the political and economic levels, it will involve, among other things, the overhauling of development and trade practices which tend to destroy the environment, and the improvement of indigenous peoples, a fairer distribution of wealth and resources within and between nations, the charging of true cost for products which exploit or pollute the environment, and the encouragement of sustainable practices through fiscal and legal controls and incen­tives.

On the social plane, it will involve a renewed thrust towards universal primary education and health care, with particular emphasis on the education and social liberation of women. On the environmental level, we are talking about massive afforestation projects, renewed research into and assistance for organic farming practices and biopest control, and the vigorous protection of biodiversity. On the informational level, the need is for data that will allow the development of accurate social and environmental accountancy systems.

The aim of ecologically sustainable development is to maximise human well-being or quality of life without jeopardising the life support system. The measures for sustainable development may be different in developed and developing countries according to their level of technological and economic development.

But developing countries, like India, can focus attention on the following measures:

1. ensure clean and hygienic living and working conditions for the people

2. sponsor research on environmental issues pertaining to the region.

3.ensure safety against known and proven industrial hazards

4. find economical methods for salvaging hazardous industrial wastes.

5.find out substitutes for proven hazardous materials based on local resources and needs instead of blindly depending on advanced nations to find solutions.

The prime need for sustainable development is the conser­vation of natural resources. For conservation, the development policy should follow the following norms:

(i) Make all attempts not to impair the natural regenerative capacity of renewable resources and simultaneously avoid excessive pollution hampering the biospherical capacity of waste assimilation and life support system.

(ii) All technological changes and planning strategy processes, as far as physically possible, must attempt switch from non-renewable to renewable resource uses.

(iii) Formulate a phase-out policy for the use of non-renewable resources in general.

Thus, for a worldwide sustainable growth, there is need for efficient and effective management of available resources. In this field, the production of “environment-friendly products” (EFP) is a positive step. With the industrialisation and technological devel­opment, markets are flooded with products of daily consumption. They could however be a source of danger to health and damage to our environment.

There is thus need to distinguish the more environmentally harmful consumer products from those which are less harmful, or have a more benign impact on the environment right from the stage of manufacture through packaging, distri­bution, use, disposal and reusability or recycling.

Throughout the world, emphasis is now being put on the production of EFP. In India, plans are afoot to market EFPs with combined efforts of Bureau of Indian Standards, Ministry of Environment and Forests and Central Pollution Control Board. Since 1990, a scheme of labelling ECOMARK has also been started. In its first phase, the items included in this are soaps, plastics, papers, cosmetics, colours, lubricating oil, pesticides, drugs and various edible items.

The objectives of the scheme are:

(i) to provide an incentive for manufactures and to reduce adverse environmental impact of their products,

(ii) to reward genuine initiatives by companies to reduce adverse environmental impact of their products,

(iii) to assist consumers to become responsible in their daily lives by providing them information to take account of environmental factors in their purchase decisions,

(iv) to encourage citizens to purchase products which have less harmful environ­mental impact, and

(v) to improve the quality of the environment and to encourage the sustainable management of resources.

Not only in consumer goods production but in the field of energy production also, environment-friendly techniques of power generation can be used. For example, in power production from coal, PFBC (Pressurised Fluidised Bed Combined Cycle) technique is useful in which coal is burnt efficiently and cleanly in combined cycle plants.

To cope with increased demand of the basic requirement of life and the limited supply of the natural resources, along with consid­eration of environmental degradation and ecological balance, we need to emphasise on optimal management of land, water, minerals and other natural resources. There is also need to utilize the native wisdom of those people, who live close to nature and earth, for eco-restoration along with development.

In order to apply the principle of sustainable management in reality, a highly complex way of looking at the problem is required, involving various disciplines. Sustainability is first and foremost a mental question. Without a grasp of the need or the will to change awareness, we will not succeed in realising the principle of sustainability in agriculture.

It is upon the decision-makers in politics to create the right framework and the pre-conditions for a sustainable development in agriculture. Global involvement, on the other hand, must not be left out of account. Sustainability reflects our understanding of necessity and responsibility on the question for whom, for what and how production can be guided into the future in a way that is efficient, environmentally sound and sparing on resources.

Global change is an ecological phenomenon, whereas globalisation is concerned with economic change. A recent analysis of sustainable agriculture in the context of trade liberalisation and globalisation raises equally significant concern for a more informed decision-making process at local, regional and international levels.

The emerging issues related to the impact of globalisation on sustainable agriculture are as follows:

1. There are explicit problems with the conventional theoretical economic conditions for agricultural sustainability, especially when applied at the global level.

2. The processes of trade liberalisation and globalisation will not be uniform given the ecological and institutional diversity of the nations of the world.

3. There will be disparities in globalised impacts between rich and poor countries for agriculture, industries, sustainability and environment as well as income and poverty.

4. There is need for serious analysis of problems and policy initia­tives, since the risk of disruption to agricultural systems and environmental deterioration, social disruption and dislocation in the poorer countries of the world is clearly very high.

5. The type of production technology research, facilitated by private research, will not address the significant public good and externality issues facing developing countries.

The pursuit of sustainability demands choices about the distri­bution of costs and benefits in space and time. There is also need to take advantage of the ‘traditional ecological knowledge’ (TEK), which encompasses all issues related to ecology and natural resource management, both at local and regional levels. Along with political dimensions of environment-society relations, the TEK can be used for both eco-restoration and sustainable development.