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Portal:Sustainable development

The sustainable development portal

Wind powers 5 MW wind turbines on a wind farm 28 km off the coast of Belgium.

Sustainable development is the organizing principle for meeting human development goals while at the same time sustaining the ability of natural systems to provide the natural resources and ecosystem services upon which the economy and society depend. The desired result is a state of society where living conditions and resource use continue to meet human needs without undermining the integrity and stability of the natural system. Sustainable development can be classified as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations.

While the modern concept of sustainable development is derived mostly from the 1987 Brundtland Report, it is also rooted in earlier ideas about sustainable forest management and twentieth century environmental concerns. As the concept developed, it has shifted to focus more on economic development, social development and environmental protection for future generations. It has been suggested that "the term 'sustainability' should be viewed as humanity's target goal of human-ecosystem equilibrium (homeostasis), while 'sustainable development' refers to the holistic approach and temporal processes that lead us to the end point of sustainability". Modern economies are endeavouring to reconcile ambitious economic development and obligations of preserving natural resources and ecosystems, as the two are usually seen as of conflicting nature. Instead of holding climate change commitments and other sustainability measures as a drug[vague] to economic development, turning and leveraging them into market opportunities will do greater good.[unbalanced opinion?] The economic development brought by such organized principles and practices in an economy is called Managed Sustainable Development (MSD).[attribution needed]

The concept of sustainable development has been—and still is—subject to criticism, including the question of what is to be sustained in sustainable development. It has been argued that there is no such thing as a sustainable use of a non-renewable resource, since any positive rate of exploitation will eventually lead to the exhaustion of earth's finite stock; this perspective renders the Industrial Revolution as a whole unsustainable. It has also been argued that the meaning of the concept has opportunistically been stretched from 'conservation management' to 'economic development', and that the Brundtland Report promoted nothing but a business as usual strategy for world development, with an ambiguous and insubstantial concept attached as a public relations slogan (see below).

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World map indicating Human Development Index (2007).
The Human Development Index (HDI) is a comparative measure of life expectancy, literacy, education, and standard of living for countries worldwide. It is a standard means of measuring well-being, especially child welfare. It is used to determine and indicate whether a country is a developed, developing, or underdeveloped country and also to measure the impact of economic policies on quality of life. The index was developed in 1990 by Indian Nobel prize winner Amartya Sen, Pakistani economist Mahbub ul Haq, with help from Gustav Ranis of Yale University and Lord Meghnad Desai of the London School of Economics and has been used since then by the United Nations Development Programme in its annual Human Development Report.

The HDI measures the average achievements in a country in three basic dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, as measured by life expectancy at birth; knowledge, as measured by the adult literacy rate (with two-thirds weight) and the combined primary, secondary, and tertiary gross enrollment ratio (with one-third weight); and a decent standard of living, as measured by the log of gross domestic product (GDP) per capita at purchasing power parity (PPP) in USD.

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Flag of the United Nations
The United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) was established in December 1992 by General Assembly Resolution A/RES/47/191 as a functional commission of the UN Economic and Social Council, implementing a recommendation in Chapter 38 of Agenda 21, the landmark global agreement reached at the June 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment & Development / Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro.

CSD 1, the Organizational Session of the CSD was held in June 1993. The Organizational Session focused on a broad range of organizational and administrative issues, reflected in topics of the Commission's documents: budget implications of draft decisions; establishing a provisional agenda & a multi-year programme of work; national reporting on implementation of Agenda 21; information exchange - UN system & donors; UNCED follow up - international organizations & UN coordination; coordination of development data; progress in environmentally sound technology transfer; initial financial commitments & flows; government information on financial commitments; urgent & major emergent issues; UNCTAD & Agenda 21 implementation; UNEP & Agenda 21 implementation; issues relating to future work of CSD; guidelines for national reporting; multi-year programme of work; financial commitments & financial flows; and integrating sustainable development in the UN System.

Selected biography

Jeffrey Sachs
Jeffrey David Sachs (born November 5, 1954, in Detroit, Michigan) is an American economist known for his work as an economic advisor to governments in Latin America, Eastern Europe, the former Yugoslavia, the former Soviet Union, Asia, and Africa. He is currently a professor and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. He is also Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. From 2002 to 2006, he was Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Director of the UN Millennium Project. He proposed shock therapy (though he himself hates the term) as a solution to the economic crises of Bolivia, Poland, and Russia. He is also known for his work with international agencies on problems of poverty reduction, debt cancellation, and disease control—especially HIV/AIDS, for the developing world. He is the only academic to have been repeatedly ranked among the world's most influential people by Time magazine. He has been appointed the 2007 lecturer for the BBC Reith Lectures.

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Did you know...

Fremantle Markets

  • ...that the Fruit and Vegetable Hall at the Fremantle Markets (pictured) was rebuilt using recycled materials following a fire in 1992?

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Thomas Paine
Men did not make the earth. It is the value of the improvements only, and not the earth itself, that is individual property. Every proprietor owes to the community a ground rent for the land which he holds.

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Related categories

Sustainable development
Development: Country classifications (Least Developed Countries) • Development charities • Development specialists • Development studies • Economic development (Informal economy, Microfinance, Poverty)  • Energy development • Fair trade • Foreign aid by country • Human Development Index • International development • Make Poverty History • Multilateral development banks • Rural community development • Supranational banks (World Bank) • Water supply and sanitation by country  United Nations Headquarters view from the East River.

Sustainability: Advocates • Alternative energy • Anaerobic digestion • Appropriate technology • Biodegradable plastics • Biofuels • Carbon diet • Economics of sustainability • Ecovillages • Energy conservation • Environmental design • Low-carbon economy • Permaculture • Recycling • Renewable energy • Sustainable agriculture • Sustainable technologies • Waste management • Water

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