Humans are solely dependent on the resources available for exploitation. These resources are the only means of survival. The exploitation of these resources was not damaging the environment back when the population was very less. But as people began to procreate, problems began popping up. Firstly, people began overusing resources according to their comforts. Secondly, the population spiked, which meant there wasn’t enough for everyone.
Now, after decades of exploiting the environment, the only way to move forward is to be judicious with whatever resources there is access to and conserve as much as possible. From using eco-friendly coffee cups in the UK to companies reducing carbon footprints, all methods for this are important. Sustainable development is the idea of satisfying present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to satisfy theirs. This concept is very important, and most countries have periodic sustainable development goals. Other than eco-friendly coffee cups in the UK, the country reported a growth in the percentage of reported sustainable development goal indicators to a whopping 81% in 2020.
Sustainable development is the only way to ensure the survival of human beings. How did the need for this idea come into being? The industrial revolution is strongly linked with this. By the second half of the 19th century, people noticed the environmental impact of their developmental projects. That period saw many socio-economic crises like the American hyperinflation and oil crises.
In 1968 an essay called the tragedy of the commons was published by Garret Hardin. Garret was an ecologist and a philosopher who argued that if actions are based on individual interests, they will go against the community’s collective interests. This would lead to the exhaustion of resources as the finite amount would be used up irrationally. A simulation was run in Rome based on Hardin’s essay. The simulation took five factors into account – population growth, industrialisation, pollution, food, and finite resource depletion. The grimmest scenario showed a socioeconomic collapse of the world by the 21st century.
Major governments around the world came together for the historic UN conference in Stockholm in 1972. Ideas to preserve the environment and contribute to sustainable development were discussed, and goals were set. This was a huge step in accepting the limits set by nature. Soon after the conference, the awareness about sustainable development grew. This led to the creation of the Human Development Index or HDI. HDI is a socioeconomic tool used to measure a country’s achievements. To do so, the HDI takes factors like health, education and finances into account. The UN development programme also came into effect. This ranked countries based on their HDI and gave a way to monitor and compare their development.
More recent developments in the field include the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, which was a 4-year long scrutiny that started in 2001 by the UN. It looked at the effects of environmental degradation on human lives. Over 1200 researchers were given the task of finding a scientific basis for steps needed to improve sustainable development. This study was key in developing the current framework for conserving the resources and their sustainable use.
Today there is a lot of regulations like global temperature maintenance and controls on CO2 regulations. Even celebrities from various fields are taking active participation in raising awareness about these issues. When rapid degradation of the environment is happening, everyone should be committed to enabling sustainable development.