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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 meet 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". The modern economies are endeavouring to reconcile ambitious economic development and obligations of preserving the natural resources and ecosystem, the two are traditionally seen as of conflicting nature. Instead of holding climate change commitments and other sustainability measures as a drug to economic development, turning and leveraging them into market opportunities will do greater good. The economic development brought by such organized principles and practices in an economy is called Managed Sustainable Development (MSD).

The concept of sustainable development has been—and still is—subject to criticism. What, exactly, 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.The United Nations organized an international conference in Stockholm, Sweden from 5 to 6 June 1972.[citation needed]

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The Malian peanut sheller in Uganda, 2005.
International development is a concept that lacks a universally accepted definition, but it is most used in a holistic and multi-disciplinary context of human development - the development of livelihoods and greater quality of life for humans. It therefore encompasses governance, healthcare, education, disaster preparedness, infrastructure, economics, human rights, environment and issues associated with these.

International development is by definition a process undertaken by countries and communities with assistance from other nations' governments and communities, from international Non-Governmental Organisations (such as charities) or from intergovernmental organisations (such as the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank). As such it is distinct from development which would take place anyway, without international involvement.

International development is also distinct from, though conceptually related to, disaster relief and humanitarian aid. While these two forms of international support seek to alleviate some of the problems associated with a lack of development, they are most often short term fixes - they are not necessarily sustainable solutions.

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Flag of the United Nations
The Millennium Project is an initiative that focuses on research implementing the organizational means, operational priorities, and financing structures necessary to achieve the Millennium Development Goals or (MDGs). The goals are aimed at the reduction of poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation, and discrimination against women. At the United Nations Millennium Summit in September 2000 world leaders initiated the development of MDGs and had set a completion date for the project of June 2005.

In order to support the MDGs, both UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), Mark Malloch Brown, have launched the Millennium Project to determine the best strategies for achieving the MDGs. The Project is headed by Professor Jeffrey Sachs. The Millennium Project worked from 2002-2005 to devise a recommended plan of implementation that will allow all developing countries to meet the MDGs and thereby substantially improve the human condition by 2015. The Millennium Project presented its final recommendations, "Investing in Development: A Practical Plan to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals," to the Secretary-General in January 2005. One highlight of the event was the group photo of the great majority of the then-current leaders of the U.N. member nations, taken by photographer Terry Deglau of Eastman Kodak.

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Dr. John Keith Hatch (born November 7, 1940) is an American economic development expert and a pioneer in modern day microfinance. He is the founder of FINCA International and the Rural Development Services (RDS), and is famous for innovating village banking, arguably the world’s most widely-imitated microfinance methodology.

Founded in 1984, FINCA's purpose was to provide the poorest families, particularly those headed by single-mothers, with loans to finance self-employment activities capable of generating additional household income. FINCA currently operates village banking programs in 21 countries and since 1984 it has assisted over 700,000 families, lending over $340 million (in 2005) to the world's poorest families with a repayment rate of 97%, while also generating enough income to completely cover the operating costs of the field programs themselves.

Moreover, FINCA's methods have been imitated by at least 40 other nonprofit agencies, that have launched an additional 105 village banking programs that have collectively reached another 2 million families worldwide.

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Did you know...

The waste hierarchy

  • ...that most ecovillages aim for a population of 50-150 individuals because this is considered to be the maximum viable social network size?


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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.

Main topics

Development: Development studies • Economic development • Energy development • Fair trade • Human Development Index • Informal economy • Information and communication technologies for development • International development • Least developed countries • Make Poverty History • Microfinance • Multilateral development banks • Poverty • World Bank Group

Sustainability: Anaerobic digestion • Appropriate technology • Biodegradable plastic • Carbon negative fuel • Ecological economics • Ecological modernization  • Economics of biodiversity • Ecovillage • Energy conservation • Environmental design • Energy development • Environmental technology • Environmental law • Low-carbon economy • Permaculture • Population  • Recycling • Renewable energy • Social sustainability • Sustainable agriculture • Sustainable city • Sustainable design  • Sustainable tourism  • Sustainable transport  • Waste management • Water

Human/World Population: Human overpopulation • Optimum population • Overshoot (ecology) • Population ageing • Population density • Population pyramid  • Tragedy of the commons  

List of countries by population:  List of countries by population growth rate • List of countries by population density • List of sovereign states and dependent territories by birth rate

Enercon E-66 wind energy converter in Egeln/Germany.


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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