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Sustainable Development Definition Essay

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Updated: Jun 25th, 2020


Majority of human practices like development and modifications done in various sectors such as environment, business and social set-up, have direct or indirect impact on human life. Sustainability is the only remedy that ensures total security to available resources for the benefit of future generations. Economic, societal and natural development should be controlled to prevent decline in the systems that support. These systems when well used contribute to quality living within the society. Management of projects should be done extensively to ensure that businesses and companies reduce their adverse effects on the ecosystem while offering protection to the existing resources.

Sustainability is defined as development programs that satisfy current population requirements without endangering the lives of future generations. However, several definitions have been given concerning sustainability; there is a possibility for interpretations in both natural and economical terms. The definition should encompass efficiency and non-decreasing parameters of development. In natural terms it is defined as maintenance of environmental resource of earth so as to provide enough support for current and future life. It involves conservation of the available resources for the benefit of future generations (World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987).

Project managers must make sustainable decisions that are able to withstand the test of time and secure future for the coming generations. The understanding of ecological dynamics helps in the improvement of overall human lifestyle within these centres. The interaction between human and its environment is in constant change and requires decision makers to understand and be able to predict the behaviours that affect human settlement (Newman and Kenworthy, 1999).

Social capital

The potential of social capital lies in the sustenance of community organizations since social capital is provided by human. This capital ensures effective running of organizations by attracting external resources and through effective management of internal resources. Project management only focuses the way organizations wisely utilize the available resources and ignore the importance to adapt to changes from external environment.

There is need to extend availability of efficient results from projects to other communities to ensure proper sustainability and availability of resources. There is also the issue of ignoring the diversity that exists within communities and over dependence on foreign funds for the running of these organizations. Project management should focus in equipping people with knowledge that enables them to acquire enough resources from their own environment (Woolcock & Narayan, 2000).

The relationship that exists between social support, information and resources contributes largely towards sustainability. Bridging as one of the characteristics represents the relationship that exists between different people from diverse background, while bonding characteristics represent relationship between similar people of the same background (Woolcock & Narayan, 2000).

There is need for good relationship between groups for sustainability purposes since this contributes to their capability to acquire resources. More leadership skills are required for the sustainability of any organization since it enables wise management of social challenges. There is also need to implement the use of new technology in the management and interaction processes (Dovers, 2000).

Economic capital

In economic terms sustainability can be defined as the adjustments done within the processes of running businesses based on productive resources which are of benefit to current and future shareholders (Lovins, Lovins & Hawaken, 1999). Abrupt changes that occur in the management of financial resources have the capability of changing lives either to the positive or negative. Project management focuses only on the potential of the resources rather than actual improvements and equitable distribution. It is more focused on how economic capital can be used efficiently and leaves the point on how it can be distributed for equal benefit of everyone within the society.

There is need for implementation of formal economics framework that enables efficient use of sustainable resources. Project management should focus on how to discount systems for the benefit of all including the under-privileged within the society. The production processes should be maintained with minimal waste emission. This ensures increase in revenue which ultimately becomes profitable for maintenance of future generations.

All the sources involved in production must ensure constant flow of quality products with a lot of attention on sustenance of natural capital (Lovins, Lovins & Hawaken, 1999). According to economists, issues of trade and technology are sometimes used as substitutes for increasing resource productivity if there are any shortages in natural resources. These substitutes help in relieving the load of overdependence on nature due to increase in population and economic growth (Rees, 1996).

Environmental capital

This is defined as the utilization of economic impression of capital to environmental goods and services. It ensures that goods and services are utilized to the maximum with minimum waste; the current ones must provide continuous flow of new products that are sustained for longer periods of time. This capital provides continuous services through recycling and treatment of resources. Project management is currently considered as undermining the processes of sustainability since it advocates obsession with material wealth, competition amongst cultures and individuals and exercising authority and power to control nature (Fien, 1993c, p.39).

The value that is attached to the environment makes project management to be one of the most valued disciplines within the society. This is because the ecosystem must be managed well for sustainability to be realised. Making good use of the education sector ensures that there is enough accumulation of environmental capital through students and their teachers. This ensures that majority of the population understands the nature of interdependence that exists between human and natural ecosystem. The balancing of nature is what assures human ability to meet its survival needs and this call for changes in various sectors such as education and culture.

For sustenance of project management in this area, there are certain action skills that are mandatory, these include; analytical skills for prediction of anticipated interactions outcome results, skills in language used to describe systems, interaction skills that ensures sharing of important information with the community, ability to think and implement appropriate decisions, efficiency in the use of modern technology and disaster management skills (Byrne, 2000, p. 49). Environmental capital can be approached using three sustainability programs which include; eco-footprint, metabolism model and construction of sustainable buildings.

Ecological Footprint

This is a program that aims at estimating the magnitude of load inserted within the ecosphere by a known human population. Estimation of this program is done based on the total productive land and water space required to adequately feed the population (Rees, 1996). Ecological footprint assist in establishing the carrying capacity of human which is the maximum population an area can support without causing any damage.

The rate at which resources are consumed and waste produced in the energy flow system can be quantified to represent land area and water consumed. Sometimes wastes can be distributed all over the world through various means, however widely distributed its effects are still felt in specific inhabited regions (Rees, 1999, p. 211).

Consumer lifestyles within the urban centres is very demanding since it requires biophysical output of more than five hectares of productive land and water mass (Wackernagel et al, 1999). Within the world urbanized countries, research have shown that majority of the population prefer settling in urban centres. This has led to over usage of urban ecological resources hence need for sustainable measures (Rees, 1999, p. 206).

Ecological footprint within the urban areas is considered high due to high percentage of people living in these ecosystems contributing high value to world’s economic output. This has seen the increase in pollution level, constant degradation of land due to construction activities and depletion of water sources (Rees, 1999, p. 207). The high demand for energy and material has led to environmental crisis causing conflict between rate of production and consumption (Rees, 1999, p. 208). This can be seen on the inability of project managers to appropriately plan for the pricing of resources, this is due to insufficient knowledge on how to link resources to their usefulness based on availability.

Metabolism Model

The rate of growth of urban centres calls for clear examination of sustainable development measures. There is need for improving urban ecosystem by use of metabolism model. Urban metabolism indicates the rate of material consumption and level of waste production both of which have big influence on ecosystem. The relationship between the output and the input presents some level of environmental and economic threats. All the channels followed to determine the flow of energy and materials within city ecosystem form what is referred to us urban metabolism. For sustainability purposes metabolism model measures the rate of use of available resources and the equivalent waste output from inhabited areas (Newman, 1999).

Sustainability in urban centres requires radical reduction in metabolic flows and improvement in social and human health. Sustainability of these cities does not however, depend on reduction of settlements within urban centre. Diversity within the cities is what produces efficiency and opportunities. According to Newman and Kenworthy (1999), the growth within city ecosystem and high level of sophistication helps in making the cities more hospitable environments. Integrated planning and involvement of the whole community can help in achieving metabolism model processes. However, it is not easy to alter individual consumption habits for the purposes of achieving the planned efficiency targets (Hinchliffe, 1996).

Sustainable Buildings

The demand for sustainable buildings has become an important aspect in the recent past. The rate of demand for these houses is low despite recommendations made by environment professionals; these houses incorporate principles and techniques of sustainable construction. Sustainable houses are becoming common to businesses since it complies with economic and technological terms. Improving urban housing ensures that each and every person accesses quality life (DETR, 2000).

The types of houses built in a city have the capability of changing the function and appearance of that city and the country in general. The process of constructing these houses, how they are used and maintained and ultimately demolished involve the use of energy and resources. These processes generate considerable amount of waste that acts as barriers to further development. Sustainable housing in Australia has however, faced threats of competition amongst its consumers (Crocker, 1995).

Environmental damage from the building materials should be reduced through environmental assessment of all the developmental constructions. The use of integrated design in green buildings helps in creating environmentally friendly structures. The buildings are often affordable since they support conservation of resources and efficient use of energy and water.

By reducing the negative impacts on environment and waste management, a healthy ecosystem is produced. According to Howard (2000), green buildings utilizes resources so well by economizing construction materials making use of recycled and renewable resources. This makes them affordable, comfortable and good for settlement within the crowded cities. However, the buildings are not in any way on demand in the sides of investors and tenants, because they seem not to provide them with the needed aesthetic value and commercial standards (Crocker, 1995).


Over dependency on non-renewable energy sources by developed countries should be checked. According to recent reports by the United Nations Environment Program, the rate of resource consumption and pollution rate should be reduced by developed countries as fast as possible (UNEP, 1999). There is need for people in both developed and developing countries to adopt simple lifestyles that will enable population growth control and reduced material demand.

Improvement is needed in every sector that indulges in production and consumption of resources. There is need for better education on environmental matters for those who are involved in construction sector so as to encourage sound decisions that supports sustainability issues. Also required is the development of one acceptable sustainability assessment method, which will be used by all stakeholders. However, sustainable development definition should not be limited only to environmental issues.

Reference List

Byrne, J., 2000. From Policy to Practice: Creating Education for a Sustainable Future. In K. A. B. Wheeler, A. P. (Ed.), Education for a Sustainable Future: A Paradigm of Hope for the 21st Century (pp. 35 – 72). New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.

Crocker, D., 1995. Consumption and well- being. Philosophy & Public Policy 15 (4), pp.12-17.

DETR, 2000.Building a better quality of life: A strategy for a more sustainable Construction industry. Stationery Office, London.

Dovers, S., 2000. Beyond EverythingCare and EverythingWatch: public Participation, public policy and participating publics. International Landcare 2000: Changing Landscapes, Shaping Futures, Melbourne

Fien, J., & Trainer, T., 1993c. A vision of sustainability. In J. Fien (Ed.), Environmental Education: A Pathway to Sustainability (pp. 24 – 42). Geelong: Deakin University Press.

Hinchliffe, S., 1996. Helping the earth begins at home: the social construction of Socio-environmental responsibilities. Global Environmental Change, 6(1), pp. 53-62.

Howard, B., 2000. A primer for builders, consumers and realtors. 5th ed. Building Environmental Science and Technology, Edgewater, Maryland, USA.

Lovins, A., Lovins, H., & Hawken, P., 1999. A roadmap for natural capitalism. Harvard Business Review, 77(3), pp. 145-158.

Newman, W. & Kenworthy, J., 1999. Sustainability and cities. Island Press, Washington D.C.

Newman, P., 1999. Sustainability and cities; extending the metabolism model. Landscape and Urban Planning (44), pp. 219-226

Rees, W. E. 1996. Revisiting carrying capacity: Area-based indicators of Sustainability. Population and Environment (17), pp. 195-215.

Rees, W., 1999. The built environment and the ecosphere: a global perspective. Building Research & Information, 27(4), pp. 206-220.

UNEP, 1999. Global environmental outlook 2000 (GEO-2000). United Nations Environmental Program, Nairobi.

Wackernagel, L. Onisto, P. Bello, C. Linares, L. Falfán, J. Garcia, S. & Guerrero, M., 1999. National natural capital accounting with the ecological footprint concept. Ecological Economics (29), pp. 375-390.

Woolcock, M. and D. Narayan, 2000. Social capital: implications for development Theory, research and policy. World Bank Research Observer. 15 (2), 225-250.

World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987. Our common future. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

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