As India’s population has crossed the 125-crore mark, a very disturbing question popped up in our mind – whether we are sufficient in terms of resources to give all the people a quality lifestyle? If the answer is affirmative, a follow up question is more disturbing – whether we will leave something for our future generation?
Introduction to Sustainable Development
With the increasing modernization and globalization, we have witnessed large-scale exploitation of all the physical as well as the human resources. Even at present, this exploitation is haunting us with numerous problems, such as global warming, climate change, depletion of the ozone layer, etc. It is very important for us to take immediate steps to protect our planet against all such mishappenings. We are playing with our environment which provides us with all the basic necessities of living a healthy life. There is an imminent danger that we might run out of our existing resources, and our future generation will have nothing to survive upon.
Thus, to protect our resources for our future generations, the concept of sustainable development came into existence. In this article, we will discuss thoroughly the concept of sustainable development. Further, we will shed light on its features, principles, and judicial interpretation of the same.
What is Sustainable Development?
As per United Nations (UN), the term ‘sustainable development’ refers to that development wherein the resources are used in such a manner that it satisfies our present requirement without compromising the requirement of our future generation. This is based on the principle that ‘we owe this environment to our future generation, and it is our duty to it protect it with utmost care and caution.’
This concept of sustainable development aims to create an attitude toward economic extension which ensures that the need of our future generation shall be given due consideration. With this principle, we aim toward sustainable growth with sensible use of resources. In sustainable development, the conservation, protection, and nurturing of all the resources of our environment are given paramount importance.
Origin of Sustainable Development
The roots of sustainable development can be traced back to the Stockholm Declaration of 1972. However, this concept really came into existence at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. This conference was held in Rio De Janeiro in the year 1992. At this conference, all the leaders of major countries across the world acknowledge the need for sustainable development with a sensible usage of our resources. It was unanimously resolved that it is important to work collectively to protect our limited resources.
After the conference, a report titled ‘Brundtland report’ was published in 1987. In this report, Prime Minister Brundtland extensively talked about sustainable development. According to him, all the countries should strive for a development that did not hamper the resources available for our future generations. The ideas of Mr Brundtland became a cornerstone of the principle of sustainable development.
Scope of Sustainable Development
It is very important to note that the concept of sustainable development is not limited to a single region, state or a single country. It is a global concept which calls for a collective effort of all the countries for a better and sustainable future. This collaborative approach aims to simplify the complex relationship between environment and growth. Nowadays, it is happening that some developed countries are literally exploiting our resources in the name of growth and development. For instance – A large number of natural resources are wasted in the production of a nuclear weapon, which does not serve any prolific purpose.
The concept of sustainable development aims to strike a balance between the growth of a nation and the exploitation of our resources. Though there cannot be legally specified limits on the usage of resources, this concept aims to create a consciousness about such wastage of resources. The term sustainability includes programs, initiatives, and necessary actions to create awareness about our depleting resources. It is highly important to note that human, social, economic, and development are the 4 pillars of the concept of sustainable development.
In a nutshell, the scope of sustainable development involves-
- The technological, economical and other crucial aspects
- It involves mutual connection and cooperation between individuals and society at the economic as well as the developmental level
- It aims for global sustainability with collective efforts from all the countries of the world.
- It includes the sustainable use of water, energy, land, and other biological resources
- It encompasses the regulation concerning population and human activities.
- Planning and economic growth to overcome the shortage of our existing resources
Importance of Sustainable development
In the present time, the importance of sustainable development has grown manifold as it aims to combat the environmental crisis while facing the challenge of economic development. With the rapid use of resources, sustainable development aims to aware people of the need of protecting them to provide basic necessities to our future generation.
This concept promotes global brotherhood and harmony as all the leaders of the countries will share a platform and work collectively for global welfare. This aims to strike a balance between protection and development and all the industries will be provided alternative methods to make good their production capacity. It will also result in the optimum utilization of our underutilized resources.
Goals and Principles of Sustainable Development
In the Brundtland Commission Report, the goals of sustainable developments were discussed, which are as follows-
- Removal of poverty from all over the world by 2030
- Eradicate the problem of hunger and undernutrition by 2030
- Promote a healthy lifestyle with well being at all places of the earth by 2030.
- To provide quality education free of cost to all the children across the globe by 2030
- To achieve the goal of gender equality by 2030.
- To carve out a policy of better utilization of water and other biological resources
- To promote inclusivity and global equality.
- To create a robust and resilient infrastructure to promote industrial growth by 2030.
- Initiate actions to protect our planet from climate changes.
- To emphasise the use of resources in such a manner that our future generation gets ample opportunity for development.
Sustainable development in India
In India, the ecosystem is confronting a severe crisis as the area of agriculture has decreased substantially. More than 10% of our flora and fauna are on verge of extinction. Our prime sources of water, such as rivers, lakes, etc. are severely polluted from industrial wastage. Moreover, two-thirds of the land is degraded and the modern waste, such as chemicals etc. is left free in the running rivers to destroy our aquatic biodiversity.
In spite of that, our country has shown some positive signs relating to sustainable development. Our country works on the parameter of ideation and diplomacy. India is one of the first countries which participated in the Voluntary National Reviews to ascertain and measure the growth of sustainable development. Further, our country has constantly funded the United Nations to boost the agenda of sustainable development. It is also working rigorously with G77 to spread awareness regarding sustainable development in all the countries of the world.
Major Initiatives by the Government-
In line with the spirit of sustainable development, India has passed numerous Acts to preserve our resources. Some of them are as follows-
- The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974
- The Forest (Conservation) Act 1980
- The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1980
- The Environment (Protection) Act 1986
- In addition to that, the government has set up a National Green Tribunal (NGT) in the year 2010. The Tribunal is vested with exclusive powers to adjudicate the matters pertaining to the issue of the environment. In the last few years, it has passed various landmark judgements against the large multi-corporate houses, which were non-compliant with the protection of the environment. The Tribunal is not bound by the principles of the Civil Procedure Code (CPC) and works in accordance with the principle of natural justice.
- India also implemented the National Clean Air Program 2019 to create awareness regarding the importance of clear air to our health. This program aims to reduce air pollution and improve the air quality index by adopting necessary steps at both the central as well as at state levels.
- In 2014, Namami Ganges Mission was introduced to clean and rejuvenate our holy river, Ganga. Importantly, it aims to create a better sewage treatment infrastructure and factory handling to reduce pollution.
- Apart from the Central government, the state governments have enforced the state action plans on climate change to build capacity and implement sector activities. Till now 27 states and 5 Union territories have adopted this strategy in sectors like water, land, air, migration tourism, forestry, agriculture and etc.
- India is a signatory of the Paris agreement and created various specialized funds for environmental protection, such as the Coal Cess and the National Clean Energy Fund, the National Adaptation Fund of Climate Change, etc.
The concept of sustainable development is based on the effective use of resources in such a manner that not only our present requirement is fulfilled but also the needs of our future generation are not compromised. This concept gained popularity after the conference of 1992 in Rio De Janeiro. The principles or goals provided in the Brundtland report is followed by almost all the countries. Talking about India, the government has taken various steps to implement the concept of sustainable development in letter and spirit. Some notable steps include setting up NGT, signing of Paris agreement, Namami Ganges Mission, setting up a National Clean Energy Fund, etc.