Applying sustainable development principles locally

Any society needs to be the best it can be for the greatest number of its citizens. In some cases, this means better amenities, lower crime rates, and better schooling. And in some cases, it’s down to the quality of the housing. Sustainable growth and development are absolutely fundamental in any civilized society, and this is why people place great value on it. There are three core principles that lend themselves to a better society:

  • a better environment – Enhanced green spaces such as nice parks (free from rubbish and destruction). And also, nice houses with reduced noise and pollution, making sure there are enough resources for future generations
  • a better economy – More job availability, affordable prices, living wages, etc
  • Improved social conditions – Better leisure facilities, neighbourhood watch programs, community groups, sports facilities and arts opportunities, diversity.

Definition of Sustainable Development

Looking at the definition of what constitutes sustainable development, it is important to consider the different definitions. One of the best definitions we’ve heard for sustainable development is,

‘Meeting the requirements of the present without compromising the needs of future generations.’ – Brundtland Report (WCED, 1987).

I reckon you’ll agree that this pretty much summarises it perfectly. The philosophy of this is one that we can certainly get behind. Although, we recognise that social, economic, and environmental issues are separate entities; each affects the other. And we need to be wise as we apply our understanding of their relatedness when making decisions and changes.

Trilogy of sustainable development

Consider it a trilogy of sustainable development

The United Nations offered a definition for sustainability back in 2005 with reference to ‘three reliant and mutually reinforcing pillars’. And these were environmental protection, and social and economic development.

It’s also worth noting, that sustainable development has two common sub-concepts, and they are:

  • Need – the specific needs of poorer people across the world, who should take priority, and
  • Limitations – the limitations of an environment to meet the needs of present and future, caused by society and technology

If we are to assume that the economy is the overriding factor here, what are your thoughts about how this impacts your local community? And what, if anything, can you do to help? 

What role are you playing to localise the principles of sustainable development where you live? And if applicable, what technical assistance do you need to make a positive impact?

Daniel Oladejo CEnv

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