Rabu, 15 Agustus 2012

Learning about "Sustainable Development" associated with Environmental and Economic Issues

Dear people,
I have been trying to understand more about Sustainable Development Concept associated with environmental and economic issues. I look around, many things have been done without taking care about the future existence, from the little group of people until the big community or even company. I don't want to talk about the specific reason why they did it, because let's focus on the effects about what have been done so far, and what should be done to save the future. We can take the real examples to have a comprehensive understanding about this topic. I think it's gonna be a fascinating one to learn and a little confusing because I should learn it in a short time alone, but I have to 'cuz I wonder..
"So, what is sustainable development ?"
There are so many definitions and even interpretations of the meanings about sustainable development, but we can take the most common one so there wouldn't be a wrong interpretation about it. As Sugden (2003) states, sustainability has become one of the most over used and abused words in the development vocabulary. We can clearly understand that "sustainable" refers to something which can be sustained, or kept going. It can also be defined as resources use and lifestyle which do not damage resources or society (M-W 2010).   

But there are a lot of meanings of sustainable development, as follows : 
1. Based on Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development: Our common future. The "Brundlant Report" (UN 1987), "sustainable development" is a process of change in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development, and institutional change are made consistent with future as well as present needs.

2. Based on WASH Technical Report no.94: The Sustainability of Donor-Assisted Rural Water Supply Projects. (Hodgkin 1994), "sustainability development" means the ability of a development project to maintain or expand a flow of benefits at a specified level for a long period after project inputs have ceased.

3. Based on Sustainability Science and Engineering : Emergence of a New Metadiscipline (Mihelcic et al.2003) , "sustainable development" is defined as the design of human and industrial systems to ensure that humankind's use of natural resources and cycles do not lead to diminished quality of life due either to losses in future economic opportunities or to adverse impacts on social conditions, human health, and the environment.

From the explanation about sustainable development above, we can conclude some points :
1. Meets the needs of the present
2. Meets the needs of all concerned
3. Continues to meet these needs for an extensive time period
4. Does not compromise the ability of current or future generations to meet their needs

What's next ?
After that, we can look at the common problems in almost developing countries due to resource use activities, such as : water pollution, air pollution, deforestation, flood, etc. 

(Water Pollution, source : globalenvironment.org.uk ; 

(Air Pollution, source : universetoday.com)

(Deforestation, source : climaticoanalysis.org ; rareconservation.org)

(smog, source : longislandpress.com ; ecofrengogreen.blogspot.com)

If you want to know more about air pollution, water pollution, deforestation, and smog, just click to the hyperlink. Furthermore, they can make a worse condition in a long term, as we know the pollutant can react with the others chemical substances and become a hazardous one. Green house effect, acid rain, global warming, and climate change are several kinds of bad impacts toward the universe which may lead to diminished quality of life for the human being. The pictures above are several examples we can take to make sure that this is really an important thing to know and motivate the people to care about this fact.

I know the issues are really inherent to the policies in every countries so it's not easy to make the sustainability development program run well. It is also important to know the role of "partnership" among governments, civil society, the private sector, and academia in shaping solutions for a sustainability transition. But before that, let we see the key factors to create sustainability from the table below.

Considering all sustainability factors listed above, if we want to create a sustainability in development program, we should care about the five key factors, like socio-cultural respects, community participation, political cohesion, economic sustainability, and environmental sustainability.  All factors are interconnected each other to make it worked, or we can say them as the interdependencies among social, economic and environmental goals. Socio-cultural respect includes social and cultural support, social cohesion. Community participation includes community commitment and acceptability, community control, policy implementation, community resilience and community empowerment. Political cohesion includes government commitment, stakeholder interest, political influences/pressure, strong lobby groups, and government policy. Economic sustainability includes economic and financial viability, reduced household vulnerability, increased capacity to cope with risk/shocks, resilience to economic shocks. Environmental sustainability must maintain a stable resource base, avoid overexploitation of renewable resources, preserve biodiversity, soil/water/air preservation and management, resilience to external environmental shocks. Resilience refers to a person's or community's ability to bounce back or recover after adversity or hard times and to be capable of building positively on lessons learned and experiences of these hardships. 

In several developing countries where poverty and adequate infrastructure are still the main problems to support economic activities, it is a little bit harder if we raise this issue to the surface. It's due to the lack of capable human resources, lack of financial background, and the other supporting tools. (But I think it is one of the challenges for developing countries to make it true..) 

Enabling factors in achieving sustainable development

After we know all listed factors, so the next step is enabling all factors in achieving sustainable development.
There are several steps to gain this goal (Adapted from McConville, 2006), as follows :
1. Needs Assessment
Determine demand and gather background information. Generally initiated with request for intervention and ended with  decision to proceed or abroad.

2. Conceptual designs and feasibility study
Alternative plans and technologies developed and assessed. May begin with brainstorming session for solutions across range of improvements and end with design selection.

3. Design and action planning
Design finalized, including schematics and budget, and action plan developed.

4. Implementation
Includes pre-construction, pilot construction, construction, training, and education.

5. Operation and Maintenance
Includes use, management, upkeep, continued training and education, monitoring and evaluation, and expansion.
(Cyclical life-cycle stages)
Adapted from McConvile and Mihelcic

Then, we can use these steps as the tool to achieve sustainable development which is so valuable for the next generation. Achievement occurs in projects with objectives linked to existing national policies and programs, government strategies geared toward poverty reduction and supportive of participatory design, and activities mainstreamed into existing agencies. We also have to remember about some external factors which can compromise the project implementation, such as external policies, foreign political pressure, and so on. In this case, we have to undertake each step with good consideration and plan. One thing we shouldn't forget, the attempts to create sustainability is an ongoing process, so the problems will never stop facing us with the time flies by. We must always prepare for the worst condition and make some new strategic plan to recover the new adversities. I am here just trying to understand about the whole concept and share it as I can, so it would be great if you can give some comments after you read this.

The Importance of Infrastructure

One thing we can't forget in every development programs is infrastructure. Building more infrastructure will give a stimulation for some rural areas to develop and grow faster. It will improve the competitiveness in many sectors including economic activities. As stated before, sustainable development means the ability of a development project must meet the present needs without compromising the ability of future generation to meet their needs. The most common problems in developing countries is to meet the present needs with limited infrastructure. More infrastructure are built, more forest are cut down to enlarge the area for people activities, such as road construction, residential/housing, bridge, highway, high rise building, etc. As the matter of it, there will be more energy and efforts to handle the development project in achieving the sustainability among social, economic and environmental goals. In other words, infrastructure improvement must create synergies with other project components.

I think it's enough for this moment, and I'm still learning to educate myself, I hope you can get something to learn..

Rachmadony Batubara   


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