Trying to have matured adults agree on one concrete definition of “Sustainability”, is by far one of the toughest jobs. Though various organizations and thought leaders have tried their best to explore, analyze and beat it down to one precise meaning without success, there seems to be the common thread of Environment, Society and the Economy, running through them all. Northwest Environment Watch, a not-for-profit research and communication center based in Seattle, has according to me given a definition that is by far the closest to appropriate. It said that sustainability is “an economy and way of life in which both people and nature flourish, a culture that can last.” The Executive Order 00-07, signed by Gov. John Kitzhaber of the State of Oregon, in May of 2000 says that, “Sustainability means using, developing and protecting resources at a rate and in a manner that enables people to meet their current needs and also provides that future generations can meet their own needs.” It also goes on a step further to say that, “Sustainability requires simultaneously meeting environmental, economic and community needs.” This again almost co-relates to the Northwest Environment Watch’s stand. Let us now venture to explore three of the most critical influencers, and analyze their roles in achieving the goal of sustainability.
Growth of World Population
Agenda 21, The Earth Summit Strategy to Save Our Planet. (Sitarz 1993) explains very well the relation between population growth and the environmental health of the planet: “The spiraling growth of world population fuels the growth of global production and consumption. Rapidly increasing demands for natural resources, employment, education and social services make any attempts to protect natural resources and improve living standards very difficult. There is an immediate need to develop strategies aimed at controlling world population growth.” (p. 44)
Scientists, since a long time, have been underlining that, the Earth, if we believe in the fact that it’s a spherical surface, does have a capacity and limit to which it can carry or support. The Population of the planet, rising in leaps and bounds, will soon lead to a complete utilization of the World’s depleting Natural Resources. As May observes (May 1993): “…the scale and scope of human activities have, for the first time, grown to rival the natural processes that built the biosphere and that maintain it as a place where life can flourish. Many facts testify to this statement. It is that somewhere between 20 and 40 percent of the earth’s primary productivity, from plant photosynthesis on land and in the sea, is now appropriated for human use.” This truly is matter of alarm. If we continue the growth of population at the current rate, we would be in a situation, where Sustainability would be a myth. Hence at no point of time should the Growth of Population be considered in isolation. Its growth in relation to the depleting Natural Resources in the planet is what heightens concern.
Governments, Association and Individuals of credibility, have continuously assembled …