Sustainable development : concept and indicators of sustainable development

Mahatma Gandhi’s principle of “enoughness” in his saying “the earth provides enough to satisfy every persons need but not for every person’s greed” According to World Commission on Environment and Development, Our Common Future (1987) , Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

It contains within it two key concepts:

  • the concept of needs, in particular the essential needs of the world’s poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and
  • the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment’s ability to meet present and future needs.”

The newly revised The United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) indicators contain a core set of 50 indicators. These core indicators are part of a larger set of 96 indicators of sustainable development. Major of them are as follows:-

• Poverty

• Governance

• Health

• Education

• Demographics

• Natural hazards

• Atmosphere

• Land

• Oceans, seas and coasts

• Freshwater

• Biodiversity

• Economic development

• Global economic partnership

• Consumption and production patterns

To ensure sustainable development following pre conditions are to be ensured:-

  • The rate of exploitation of renewable resources should not exceed the regeneration rate.
  • Waste emission should be kept at or below assimilative capacity (waste absorptive capacity) of the environment. For instance the absorptive capacity of the environment for radioactive radiation is zero, so strong sustainability criteria suggests that no radioactive substance should be disseminated to the environment.
  • The extraction of nonrenewable resources should be consistent with the development of renewable substitutes. This condition is in line with the Hartwick’s sustainability assumption.
  • Conventional national account should incorporate the depreciation of natural resources.
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