Limitations Of Sustainable Development

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The concept of sustainable development has become ubiquitous in many aspects of modern society. Most multinational corporations release annual sustainability reports and the word “sustainable” is on stickered onto cereals, water bottles, and even cars. Despite its familiarity, there is little consensus on the term’s true meaning. It means different things to different people at different times, consistently evolving as pertinent to environmental governance at the time, growing from a concept that only took into account humans, into a larger idea that affects all kinds of life through space and time, taking into account “needs” and limitations. Sustainable development is controversial when it comes to the North-South divide because of the necessary …show more content…
Seven years later in 1987, the World Commission on Environment and Development published a report called Our Common Future that is also known as the Brundtland report. It included the most well-known definition of sustainable development: “development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” (Drexhage and Murphy, 2). Here the term had evolved into something that protected the rights of the future generation, not only the current one. This definition was accepted by the United Nations General Assembly which gave the term political salience. In 1992, a broad strategy of sustainable development was officially endorsed at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, also known as the Earth Summit in Rio de Janiero. It continues to serve as the dominant meta-discourse of national and international environmental law and policy (Eckersley, 253). From this point on it has become generally accepted that sustainable development requires a convergence between the three pillars of economic development, social equity, and environmental protection (Drexhage and Murphy, 2). While it is intended for sustainable development to encompass all three pillars, it has still not found the political entry points to become more prevalent in sectors other than the environmental one, especially in …show more content…
The United Nations just had a Sustainable Development Summit in late September, 2015. Here they released the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development encompassing people, planet, prosperity, peace, and partnership. There are 17 goals outlined from the first goal which reads, “end poverty in all its forms everywhere” to the last one, “strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development” (UNSDGS, 2015). This summit took into account the Brundtland approach and added onto it. Though it is an artfully political compromise of the three pillars, its critics could say that the outlined goals are too optimistic in believing environmental and economic growth can happen at the same time. Market mechanisms can indeed be efficient, but it does not ensure a fair distribution of wealth and income relative to present and future need nor can it ensure that the economy takes into account the carrying capacity of ecosystems (Eckersley, 254-255). Can the world indeed eliminate poverty and achieve peace for

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