As the idea of sustainable development has become increasingly more topical in the political arena, the question still remains as to whether our modern capitalist economies can preserve their most basic principle of maximising profits, whilst still protecting the environment. It is therefore the purpose of this essay to examine this. Can compromises be reached that enable us to protect and conserve the environment without hindering development.
Since the disbandment of the Soviet Union the dominant economic system globally has been capitalism. Private ownership of the means of production, creation of goods or services for profit in a market, and prices and wages are elements of capitalism (Tormey, 2004). This promotes a society in which
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Sustainable development encompasses many aspect of modern life. I will now analyse the three main dimensions and in each case give specific examples of measures or initiatives that can or in some cases have been put in place to make these dimensions more sustainable. The first and what I believe to be the most contentious within our modern capitalist society is that of sustainable economic growth. Sustainable economic development involves maximising the net benefits of economic development, subject to maintaining the services and quality of natural resources (Pearce, Markandya and Barbier, 1989). Water-related diseases are a serious hinderance to economic growth, killing more than 5 million people each year. About 2.3 billion people suffer from diseases linked to dirty water. Some 60% of all infant mortality worldwide is linked to infectious and parasitic diseases, most of them water-related (UN, 2003). The provision of clean water supply in countries affected by water borne diseases has a knock on effect on the economic prosperity of that country because it lessens the chances of people, especially children getting sick. If children stay healthy they are more likely to be able to attend school and in the future better their economic situation.
Sustainable social development is another key dimension of sustainable development.