Our ancient text says-
“Keep pure! For the Earth is our mother! And we are her children!”
Imagine 2 homes- one in the USA and the other one in the African region. Which one would you like to reside in? Most of you here would say the American one. Because not only is it more likely to be luxurious, one has more assurance of gender equality, higher levels of development, increased incomes, better living conditions in the States as compared to some humble dwelling in the African region. At the same time the African one is more likely to be a poor dwelling with poor forms of employment, unhealthy living conditions and a life of poverty. But why is it so?
Through a variety of market, policy, and institutional failures, Earth’s natural capital has been used in ways that are economically inefficient and wasteful. The burning of fossil fuels supported rapid growth for decades but set up dangerous consequences, with climate change today threatening to roll back decades of development progress. The past two decades have witnessed such levels of exploitation of earth’s natural capital that right now we are facing a global crisis on how to save these for our future generations and at the same time use them for the present developmental works as well.
This is where I would like to quote the great French poet Victor Hugo who rightly said-
“All the forces in the world are not as powerful as an idea whose time has come.”
This idea of SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT. Sustainable development is a form of development which recommends that development should take place without damaging the environment and development in the present should not compromise with the needs of the future generations. The idea of sustainable development first came up in the year 1992 at the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit with the adoption of Agenda 21.
The three pillars of sustainable development – economic growth, environmental stewardship, and social inclusion – carry across all sectors of development, from cities facing rapid urbanization to agriculture, infrastructure, energy development and use, water availability, and transportation.
But why isn’t the concept of sustainable development limited to a few individuals or a few governmental or international organizations?
This is because consequences of environmental degradation, social exclusion, and economic downfall do not respect national or state boundaries; this issue is no longer region or nation-specific. Our future is linked together. The former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan too said-
“We may have different religions, different languages, different coloured skin, but we all belong to one human race.”
And because the world came together in an unprecedented effort, the global hunger rate has already been slashed. Tens of millions of more boys and girls are today in school. Prevention and treatment of measles and malaria and tuberculosis have saved nearly 60 million lives. HIV/AIDS infections and deaths have plummeted. And more than one billion people have limited themselves up from extreme poverty. The entire can take enormous pride in these historic achievements. We can break the cycle of poverty. People and nations can rise into prosperity.
But then, when eleven boys and girls die every single minute from preventable causes, we know we have more work to do.
When hundreds of women die every single day just from having a baby, we know we have more work to do.
When tens of millions of children are still not in school, when hundreds of millions of people have no clean water, no toilets, we have so much work to do.
There is an even greater need for development today, but sustainable development because we are not in a state of exploiting our resources injudiciously anymore. That would be a profound injustice to our future generations.
The very purpose of sustainable development is to help children like Eva- a girl who lives in Tanzania, a girl who wants to study but doesn’t have the resources for the same. And there are billions of more boys and girls like Eva who are just like us, who possess as much talent and possess as much hope for future just as we do but just by the accident of birth, it’s so much more difficult for them to achieve their dreams. Sustainable development means breaking cycles of dependence by helping people become more self-sufficient– not just giving people fish, but teaching them how to fish. That’s the purpose of sustainable development.
So let’s all join hands in hands and wish that may all be happy, may all be healthy, may all see welfare, and may no one have any sorrow.