Sustainable Development

Sustainable development (SD) is a process for meeting human development goals while maintaining the ability of natural systems to continue to provide the natural resources and ecosystem services upon which the economy and society depend, while the modern concept of sustainable development is forest management and environmental concerns.

Sustainability can be defined as the practice of reserving resources for future generation without any harm to the nature and other components of it. Sustainable development ties together concern for the carrying capacity of natural systems with the social, political, and economic challenges faced by humanity. Sustainability science is the study of the concepts of sustainable development and environmental science. There is an additional focus on the present generations' responsibility to regenerate, maintain and improve planetary resources for use by future generations.

It can also be defined as any construction that can be maintained over a long period of time without damaging the environment and the development balancing near-term interests with the protection of the interests of future generations.

Sustainable development has been described in terms of three dimensions, domains or pillars. In the three-dimension model, these are seen as "economic, environmental and social" or "ecology, economy and equity"; this has been expanded by some authors to include a fourth pillar of culture, institutions or governance.

Ecological engineering:
The ecological sustainability of human settlements is part of the relationship between humans and their natural, social and built environments. Also termed human ecology, this broadens the focus of sustainable development to include the domain of human health. Fundamental human needs such as the availability and quality of air, water, food and shelter are also the ecological foundations for sustainable development; addressing public health risk through investments in ecosystem services can be a powerful and transformative force for sustainable development which, in this sense, extends to all species.

Environmental engineering and Environmental technology:
Environmental sustainability concerns the natural environment and how it endures and remains diverse and productive. Since natural resources are derived from the environment, the state of air, water, and the climate are of particular concern. The IPCC Fifth Assessment Report outlines current knowledge about scientific, technical and socio-economic information concerning climate change, and lists options for adaptation and mitigation. Environmental sustainability requires society to design activities to meet human needs while preserving the life support systems of the planet. This, for example, entails using water sustainably, utilizing renewable energy, and sustainable material supplies (e.g. harvesting wood from forests at a rate that maintains the biomass and biodiversity).

An unsustainable situation occurs when natural capital (the sum total of nature's resources) is used up faster than it can be replenished. Sustainability requires that human activity only uses nature's resources at a rate at which they can be replenished naturally. Inherently the concept of sustainable development is intertwined with the concept of carrying capacity. Theoretically, the long-term result of environmental degradation is the inability to sustain human life. Such degradation on a global scale should imply an increase in human death rate until population falls to what the degraded environment can support. If the degradation continues beyond a certain tipping point or critical threshold it would lead to eventual extinction for humanity.

Integral elements for a sustainable development are research and innovation activities. A telling example is the European environmental research and innovation policy, which aims at defining and implementing a transformative agenda to greening the economy and the society as a whole so to achieve a truly sustainable development. Research and innovation in Europe is financially supported by the programme Horizon 2020, which is also open to participation worldwide. A promising direction towards sustainable development is to design systems that are flexible and reversible.

Sustainable agriculture:
Sustainable agriculture consists of environmentally-friendly methods of farming that allow the production of crops or livestock without damage to human or natural systems. It involves preventing adverse effects to soil, water, biodiversity, surrounding or downstream resources—as well as to those working or living on the farm or in neighbouring areas. The concept of sustainable agriculture extends inter generationally, passing on a conserved or improved natural resource, biotic, and economic base rather than one which has been depleted or polluted. Elements of sustainable agriculture include agro forestry, mixed farming, multiple cropping, and crop rotation.

Numerous sustainability standards and certification systems have been established in recent years, offering consumer choices for sustainable agriculture practices. These include Organic certification, Rainforest Alliance, Fair Trade, UTZ Certified, Bird Friendly, and the Common Code for the Coffee Community (4C).

Smart grid and Sustainable energy:
Sustainable energy is clean and can be used over a long period of time. Unlike fossil fuels that most countries are using, renewable energy only produces little or even no pollution. The most common types of renewable energy in US are hydroelectric, solar and wind energy; solar energy is commonly used on public parking meter, street lights and the roof of buildings. Wind power has expanded quickly. Its share of worldwide electricity usage at the end of 2014 was 3.1%. Most of California’s fossil fuel infrastructures are sited in or near low-income communities, and have traditionally suffered the most from California’s fossil fuel energy system. These communities are historically left out during the decision-making process, and often end up with dirty power plants and other dirty energy projects that poison the air and harm the area. These toxicants are major contributors to health problems in the communities. As renewable energy becomes more common, fossil fuel infrastructures are replaced by renewable, providing better social equity to these communities. Overall, and in the long run, sustainable development in the field of energy is also deemed to contribute to economic sustainability and national security of communities, thus being increasingly encouraged through investment policies.

Sustainable transport:
Transportation is a large contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. It is said that one-third of all gasses produced are due to transportation. Some western countries are making transportation more sustainable in both long-term and short-term implementations. An example is the modifications in available transportation in Freiburg, Germany. The city has implemented extensive methods of public transportation, cycling, and walking, along with large areas where cars are not allowed.

Since many western countries are highly automobile-orientated areas, the main transit that people use is personal vehicles. About 80% of their travel involves cars. Therefore, California, deep in the automobile-oriented west, is one of the highest greenhouse gases emitters in the country. The federal government has to come up with some plans to reduce the total number of vehicle trips in order to lower greenhouse gases emission. Such as:

Improve public transit through the provision of larger coverage area in order to provide more mobility and accessibility, new technology to provide a more reliable and responsive public transportation network.

Encourage walking and biking through the provision of wider pedestrian pathway, bike share station in commercial downtown, locate parking lot far from the shopping centre, limit on street parking, and slower traffic lane in downtown area.

Increase the cost of car ownership and gas taxes through increased parking fees and tolls, encouraging people to drive more fuel efficient vehicles. They can produce social equity problem, since lower people usually drive older vehicles with lower fuel efficiency. Government can use the extra revenue collected from taxes and tolls to improve the public transportation and benefit the poor community.

Ecological economics:
It has been suggested that because of rural poverty and overexploitation, environmental resources should be treated as important economic assets, called natural capital. Economic development has traditionally required a growth in the gross domestic product. This model of unlimited personal and GDP growth may be over. Sustainable development may involve improvements in the quality of life for many but may necessitate a decrease in resource consumption. According to ecological economist, ecological economics is defined by its focus on nature, justice, and time. Issues of intergenerational equity, irreversibility of environmental change, uncertainty of long-term outcomes, and sustainable development guide ecological economic analysis and valuation.

Corporate sustainability:
The most broadly accepted criterion for corporate sustainability constitutes a firm’s efficient use of natural capital. This eco-efficiency is usually calculated as the economic value added by a firm in relation to its aggregated ecological impact. This idea has been popularised by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) under the following definition: "Eco-efficiency is achieved by the delivery of competitively priced goods and services that satisfy human needs and bring quality of life, while progressively reducing ecological impacts and resource intensity throughout the life-cycle to a level at least in line with the earth’s carrying capacity."

Similar to the eco-efficiency concept but so far less explored is the second criterion for corporate sustainability. Socio-efficiency describes the relation between a firm's value added and its social impact. Whereas, it can be assumed that most corporate impacts on the environment are negative (apart from rare exceptions such as the planting of trees) this is not true for social impacts. These can be either positive (e.g. corporate giving, creation of employment) or negative (e.g. work accidents, mobbing of employees, human rights abuses). Depending on the type of impact socio-efficiency thus either tries to minimize negative social impacts (i.e. accidents per value added) or maximise positive social impacts (i.e. donations per value added) in relation to the value added.

Sustainable architecture:
In sustainable architecture the recent movements of New Urbanism and New Classical architecture promote a sustainable approach towards construction, that appreciates and develops smart growth, architectural tradition and classical design. This in contrast to modernist and International Style architecture, as well as opposing to solitary housing estates and suburban sprawl, with long commuting distances and large ecological footprints. Both trends started in the 1980s. (It should be noted that sustainable architecture is predominantly relevant to the economics domain while architectural landscaping pertains more to the ecological domain.)

Environmental politics, Environmental governance and Sustainability metrics and indices:
A study concluded that social indicators and, therefore, sustainable development indicators, are scientific constructs whose principal objective is to inform public policy-making. The International Institute for Sustainable Development has similarly developed a political policy framework, linked to a sustainability index for establishing measurable entities and metrics. The framework consists of six core areas, international trade and investment, economic policy, climate change and energy, measurement and assessment, natural resource management, and the role of communication technologies in sustainable development.

The United Nations Global Compact Cities Programme has defined sustainable political development is a way that broadens the usual definition beyond states and governance. The political is defined as the domain of practices and meanings associated with basic issues of social power as they pertain to the organisation, authorisation, legitimating and regulation of a social life held in common. This definition is in accord with the view that political change is important for responding to economic, ecological and cultural challenges. It also means that the politics of economic change can be addressed. They have listed seven sub-domains of the domain of politics:

- Organization and governance
- Law and justice
- Communication and critique
- Representation and negotiation
- Security and accord
- Dialogue and reconciliation
- Ethics and accountability

Sustainable development goals:
The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), also known as Rio 2012, Rio+20, or Earth Summit 2012, was the third international conference on sustainable development, which aimed at reconciling the economic and environmental goals of the global community. An outcome of this conference was the development of the Sustainable Development Goals that aim to promote sustainable progress and eliminate inequalities around the world. However, few nations met the World Wide Fund for Nature's definition of sustainable development criteria established in 2006. Although some nations are more developed than others, all nations are constantly developing because each nation struggles with perpetuating disparities, inequalities and unequal access to fundamental rights and freedoms.

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