Introduction: There have been various efforts undertaken by international organizations for development especially in the poverty-stricken countries of the world. After the creation of the United Nations, it formed a special body namely ‘United Nations Development Program, (UNDP) to devise plans and monitor development activities throughout the world. But the effects of those efforts proved temporary since most of them failed to uproot poverty, even in this advanced age of science and technology. As a result, a new concept of development i.e. sustainable development emerged over the years.
What is Sustainable Development: The idea of sustainable development grew from numerous environmental movements in earlier decades and was defined in 1987 by the World Commission on Environment and Development as ‘development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.’ (The World Commission on Environment & Development, Brund land Commission 1987). At the end of the summit on sustainable development, the ‘Johannesburg Declaration proclaims: ‘Poverty eradication, changing non-sustainable patterns of production and consumption and protecting and managing the natural resources based on economic and social aspects are overreaching objectives of and essential requirements for sustainable development.’ (WSSD, Johannesburg Declaration, 4 Sep 2002)
Components of Sustainable Development
The above-mentioned definitions clarify that long-lasting development is closely related to the environment. Sustainable development encompasses a number of inter-related areas and highlights sustainability as the idea of environmental, economic, and social progress and equity, all within the limits of the world’s natural resources. So, there are three components of sustainable development:
1. Economic Development
2. Social Development and
3. Environmental Protection
Initiatives on Sustainable Development: The issue of sustainable development was first addressed in the First Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992. The Millennium Declaration of the UN also highlighted the significance of sustainable development after ten years of the First Earth Summit, the UN Conference of Environment and Development (UNCED) organized a world summit named World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa from 26 Aug, to 4 September 2002. Although another Summit was held in Kyoto, Japan (1997) to review the progress of the Earth Summit 1992, the Johannesburg Summit minutely focuses on sustainable development in particular.
Earth Summit 1992: The Earth Summit in 1992 first attempted to highlight the importance of sustainability. As the largest gathering of world leaders in history, the summit was attended by 152 world leaders including 35,000 participants. The summit produced Agenda 21, a plan of action, and a recommendation that requires all countries to take sustainable development strategies. Two important treaties were signed that are directly related to the sustainability of development.
World Summit on Sustainable Development: This is the second summit on sustainable development. With world leaders of 84 countries and 40,000 delegates, the 10 days, long WSSD was held in Johannesburg from 26 Aug. -4 September 2002. It was organized by the 10th session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development known as CSD-10. The final round of the summit was attended by 110 heads of state or government, 80 senior representatives, and 65,000 representatives of 190 countries. The aims and objectives of the summit were to
a. Review and evaluate Rio Declaration and Agenda 21
b. Avoid unsustainable production and consumption
c. Relate environment with development
d. Exert pressure on developed countries mainly responsible for Green House Gas emissions.
e. Make the world conscious about the components of world development.
Among various issues, five of them were elaborately discussed. They are (1) Water and sewerage: (2) Energy; (3) Agricultural production; (4) Health: (5) Biodiversity.
Sustainable Development Declaration: The representatives in the Johannesburg summit elaborately discussed different issues related to sustainable development and finally adopted Johannesburg Declaration. The Declaration was divided into two parts:
1. Plan of Action
2. Plan of Implementation
The plan of Action included issues closely related to the sustainability of development. The most important of them are :
*Poverty *Water quality and availability *Cleaner energy *AID *Production and consumption *Women Rights *Environment etc.
Implementation of Sustainable Development: The Johannesburg Declaration called upon the world to materialize ‘The Plan of Implementation’ for achieving sustainable development. Some of the major aspects of implementation are briefly described below:
1. Poverty Alleviation: Poverty, the greatest challenge for sustainable development must be eradicated. The declaration asked the countries to halve the proportion of the world’s people whose daily income is one dollar by the year 2015. For this, every country should devise and execute its national sustainable development plan. They should ensure primary education for all, deliver basic health services, construct rural infrastructures, increase food availability and provide financial support to the poor.
2. Health: In 1992, the Earth Summit declared human beings as the focal point of sustainable development. The sustainability of development will never be possible without a healthy and skilled population. So, the governments should provide basic health services, develop partnerships in health education, reduce the mortality rates, promote traditional medicine and invent new vaccines to ensure the sound health of the people.
3. Natural Resources and Biodiversity: Natural resources constitute the everlasting sources of all developmental efforts. Therefore, all countries should protect the eco-system and biodiversity, prevent water pollution, minimize industrial pollution, mitigate groundwater contamination and ensure optimum of natural resources.
4. Sustainable Production and Consumption: Most of the third world countries produce and consume in such traditional ways that are not suitable for sustainable development. So, they must explore new ways for innovative creations, utilize indigenous energy resources and ensure grass-root level participation in community activities.
5. Global sustainable Development: Sustainable development should not be perceived from a local perspective but as a global concern. To ensure development for all, we must promote equitable multilateral trading and financial system, boost trade-related technical assistance and ensure decision-making rights in all international organizations.
The world leaders often start their speech with the tall talk of development but this will always be political rhetoric and sustainable development will never be possible unless the rich countries accept equitable sharing of business, trade, technology, and other facilities with the poor countries. Otherwise, we have to say ‘You have failed us’ as said by a representative from ‘The Youth Concus’ in the Johannesburg Summit.