Sustainable Development: Inevitable for Conservation of Natural Resources and Environment

Sustainable Development

Sustainable Development

Inevitable for Conservation of Natural Resources and Environment

-Dr. Arvind Singh 

Sustainable development is the development that meets the needs and aspirations of the current generation without compromising the ability to meet those of future generations. Furthermore, it considers the equity between nations and continents, races and classes, gender and ages. It includes social development and economic opportunity on the one hand, and the requirements of the environment on the other hand side. It is based on improving the quality of life for all especially the poor and deprived within the carrying capacity of the supporting ecosystems. It is, in fact, a process which leads to a better quality of life while minimizing the adverse impact on the environment.

What is Carrying Capacity?

Each habitat or ecosystem has a certain space which can accommodate a finite number of organisms. There is also a limit to the amount of food production in any ecosystem. Thus each ecosystem can sustain a fixed number of organisms depending on its size and productivity. This is called the carrying capacity of the ecosystem.

This new concept of development has emerged in Earth Summit at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992. Several documents were created for the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) which brought out the fact that environment and development are closely connected and that there is a need to care for the earth. Agenda 21 of the Summit is an action programme aimed at making development socially, economically and environmentally sustainable. The Agenda suggests programmes to achieve a sustainable balance between consumption, people and life-sustaining capacity of the Earth.

What is Agenda 21?

Agenda 21was adopted in Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992. Agenda 21 contains strategies for preventing environmental degradation and for establishing a basis of a sustainable way of life on Earth in the twenty-first century. Agenda 21 recommends ways to strengthen the role of major groups- women, trade unions, farmers, children and young people, indigenous people, the scientific community, local authorities, business groups, industry and non-government organizations in action for sustainable development.

Why Sustainable Development has Become Inevitable?

In conventional development, the indiscriminate exploitation of natural resources has caused the threat of their depletion. For instance, the consumption of fossil fuels and minerals at a rapid rate would lead to their exhaustion in the near future. The indiscriminate extraction of water resources has led to the lowering of the groundwater table. The indiscriminate deforestation has led to problems of biodiversity depletion, global warming and soil erosion. The mindless and incessant use of chemicals and synthetic fertilizers to increase agricultural productivity has caused the problem of environmental pollution and land degradation. 
The developmental activities like urbanization, industrialization construction of dams and canals, Railway Projects, major highways, power plants etc. have also caused the problem of environmental deterioration and outbreak of mosquito-borne diseases like Malaria, Lymphatic filariasis, Chikungunya, Japanese encephalitis and West Nile fever. In Kolkata (West Bengal), India, a rising trend has been observed in the incidence of malaria since the 1970s which is due to uncontrolled urbanization and industrialization of the city.

The developments of Indira Gandhi canal in state of Rajasthan to enhance the agricultural production has led to the spread of malaria in the state.

The Sardar Sarovar Water Resources Development Project (Gujarat), Bagri Dam Project (Madhya Pradesh) and Konkan Railway Project (Konkan region) had led to increased incidence of malaria at the projects site and the adjoining areas.

Thus sustainable development has become inevitable to check the depletion of natural resources, environmental pollution and the spread of mosquito-borne diseases.

How to Attain the Goal of Sustainable Development?

The solution to all the aforesaid problems lies in building sustainable communities. A sustainable community formulates goals that are rooted in a respect for both the natural environment and human nature and that calls for the use of technology is a compatible way to serve both these resources. The present generation today has an obligation to pass on the resources, intact to future generations. The human beings are part of nature and must abstain from destroying the variety of life forms with which they share this planet.

Renewable sources of energy like wind energy, solar energy, tidal energy, geothermal energy, dendrothermal energy must be at priority for the attainment of the goal of sustainable development. The waste products must be recycled. The damaged ecosystems like grassland, forest etc. must be restored for ecological balance.

Development is necessary for social and economic progress. However, this development should not be carried out at the cost of environmental health. Benefits of development can hardly be achieved with poor environmental and human health and hence both must get equal priority for the welfare of human society. The developmental projects such as dams, mines, highways, industries and tourism which have an adverse impact on the environment must be studied before they are begun. Thus for every project there must be a scientifically done Environmental Impact Assessment without which the project must not be permitted.

What is Environmental Impact Assessment?

The assessment of the likely impact of the project or developmental activities on the environment. The aim of the Environmental Impact Assessment is to ensure that development is sustained with minimal environmental degradation. The Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India has been authorized for appraisal of projects with regards to their environmental implications.

Human ecology must also get high priority in environmental policies and developmental programmes as the quality of the environment and the nature of development are major determinants of human health. Therefore, Environmental Impact Assessment with reference to long- term consequences of health i.e. Health Impact Assessment must be regarded as a management tool for specifying the extent to which developmental project may be permitted to intervene in the natural process of maintenance of ecological balance of an area and human health. There must be a policy framework for health-risk assessment and health-risk management in the context of development programme and projects.


The conventional development based on indiscriminate exploitation of natural resources and clearance of developmental projects without impact assessment have led to the problems of depletion of resources, environmental pollution and outbreak of mosquito-borne diseases. Therefore, sustainable development has become inevitable to avoid the harmful effects of conventional development.
Dr. Arvind Singh is M. Sc. and Ph. D. in Botany with area of specialization in Ecology. He is an dedicated Researcher having more than four dozen of published Research Papers in the Journals of National and International repute. His main area of Research is Restoration of Mined Lands. However, he has also conducted research on the Vascular Flora of Banaras Hindu University-Main Campus, India. 

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