Critically examine the idea of sustainable development.

Sustainable development :-

According to Brundtland commission’s report, “Our Common Future”. sustainable development is a development that takes care of the needs of present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The idea of sustainable development made us to reconsider the goals and strategies of development. This concept was born from the rising concern on the over-exploitation of resources for the needs and luxuries of the present generation.

Brundtland’s report suggests that in order to make sustainable development a reality, all nations should modify the policies related to development and environment, such as conserving and enhancing resource base. Sustainable development involves two crucial issues, one is the economic growth, which is the most essential thing to eradicate poverty completely and the another one is the exploitation of environment for economic growth. Hence the concept of sustainable development is based on the ‘integrated view of the environment and development’.

Criticism :-

Few sociologists criticised the concept of sustainable development by opining that development and sustainability are not just incompatible with each other, but contradictory as well. They are of the view that development means economic growth, which eventually leads to modernisation, which in turn increases the level of consumption, thereby increase in exploitation of resources.

Sukhamoy Chakravorty and Anil Agarwal criticised the idea of sustainable development as vague and ambiguous as the word ‘sustainable’ can mean different goals to different persons, making everyone confused about the very concept. This concept was also criticised by V.Ratna Reddy. He opined that it is very difficult to assess the needs of future generations. Anil Agarwal adds that with the current trend of sustainable development, only the future generations of the rich are going to benefit.

William F.Fisher took the example of Sardar Sarovar Dam on Narmada river to explain why the idea of sustainable development is not perfect.He opined that the term sustainable development is being used to justify whatever one does. In the case of Sardar sarovar Dam, both the proponents and opponents are saying that sustainable development is their goal. He also comments that there is no agreement worldwide to realise the goals of sustainable development. According to K.R.Nayar, sustainable development is anti-poor, anti-south and anti-ecological.

Though there are several criticisms exist for the concept of sustainable development, the fact that it made the world realise the necessity of conserving the environment makes the idea too important to ignore. However, there needs to be agreed strategy for all to achieve the goals of sustainable development.

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