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Q: sustainable and unsustainable development ( Answered,   1 Comment )
Subject: sustainable and unsustainable development
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: bangmal-ga
List Price: $6.00
Posted: 25 May 2003 20:57 PDT
Expires: 24 Jun 2003 20:57 PDT
Question ID: 208712
what do sustainable and unsustainable development mean?
please give some examples

Request for Question Clarification by politicalguru-ga on 26 May 2003 00:16 PDT
Would dictionary referrences (+examples to each) satisfy you?

Clarification of Question by bangmal-ga on 26 May 2003 01:03 PDT
exactly what i need
Subject: Re: sustainable and unsustainable development
Answered By: politicalguru-ga on 26 May 2003 08:16 PDT
Dear Bangmal, 

Sustainable development is defined as development that meets "the
needs of the present without compromising the ability of future
generations to meet their own needs"(1). That means, that
developmental projects are planned to meet the long term needs of the
population, and not only those of the present.

For example, a decision to transform the energy market to rely on
solar energy and other renewable sources could be part of a global
sustainable development plan: the plan would replace, in the long
term, the non-renewable energy sources, while preserving the ability
of mankind to enjoy the benefits of energy and while protecting the
environment and providing a renewable, cheap, source of energy to poor

Hamilton in Canada gives a good example for their sustainable
development plan in their Web-Site, and also details their view of
sustainable development, as consisting of four principles:
"fulfillment (sic.) of human needs for peace, clean air and water,
food, shelter, education, and useful and satisfying employment;

maintenance of ecological integrity through careful stewardship,
rehabilitation, reduction in wastes and protection of diverse and
important natural species and systems;

provision for self-determination through public involvement in the
definition and development of local solutions to environmental and
development problems; and,

achievement of equity with the fairest possible sharing of limited
resources among contemporaries and between our generation and that of
our descendants."(2)
Unsustainable development is the sort of development that does not
consider future needs and the protection of the environment (or of
social needs) on its plans. That is not always the product of
deliberate carelessness. More likely, "many acts of unsustainable
development, in which we all have participated, are driven by good
intentions and a lack of understanding of the possible long term
consequences." (3).

There are many examples of unsustainable development. For example, in
the Philippines, urban planning did not meet the needs and the growth
of the population, or those of the environment (4). But the example
that jumps to mind is the Aral Sea in Central Asia. This sea was used
to solve irrigation problems in the former Soviet Union - and the
over-usage of the sea created a process of desertification (5).

Today, the term "sustainable development" is a common buzz-word among
politicians and administrators, who are aware of the positive effect
of this world on public opinion (6). The opposite term, "unsustainable
development", is used by public groups as a derogatory term to any
developmental activity, which doesn't consider (at least in their
opinions) the long-term needs of the global society.

For example, the subsidies on non-renewable energy sources have been
labelled as "unsustainable development", and while they provide energy
in the short term, they may cause damage in the long run (7).

(1)  World Commission on Environment and Development’s (the Brundtland
Commission) report Our Common Future (Oxford: Oxford University Press,
1987), p. 43 and see "What is Sustainable Development" ; For other, similar
definitions and explanations, see: SD Gateway, ; Sustainable
Development -
the UK Government's approach, "What is sustainable development?" ;
New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development, "Definition
of Sustainable Development", ;
a collection of definitions might be found here: Susan Murcott,
"Appendix A: Definitions of Sustainable Development"

(2) Hamilton (Ontario, Canada) Vision 2000, "Hamilton's Definition of
Sustainable Development", ;
Another example is planning to preserve ecosystems while developing
the global environment, See:

(3) United Nations Environment Programme "Newsletter and Technical
<The Councillor as Guardian of the Environment> ; An Essay and
Workshop for Local Elected Leaders on Environmental Governance with
Emphasis on Adopting Environmentally Sound Technologies (ESTs) -
Training for Elected Leadership -",

(4) Karina Constantino-David "Unsustainable development: the
Philippine experience"

(5) FAO, "Time to save the Aral Sea?",

(6) Eric Reguly, "Sustainable Development for Sale" The Globe and Mail
    Tuesday, June 8, 1999,

(7) For more on this example, see: André de Moor and Peter Calamai
"Subsidizing Unsustainable Development" ;

Further Sites:
General information on the topic: 


(3) Groups: 
(3a) Sci.Econ.Research
- economic research (moderated)
(3b) Misc.Activism.Progressive
- activists for sustainable development (moderated)

(4) Organisations:

(5) Two fresh articles for and against sustainable development: 
Christian Braun, "The case against sustainable development", 22 May
Solitaire Townsend, "The case for sustainable development", 22 May

I hope that answered your question. Please contact me if you need any
clarifications on this answer. I'd be pleased to clarify my answer
before you rate it.
Subject: Re: sustainable and unsustainable development
From: yaounde-ga on 26 May 2003 06:29 PDT
I am assuming that you need an answer to the sustainable part of the
question as development is a loaded word- ie any profit making
activity, including all construcytion for example, is called
In the context of sustainavble development, the term is generally use
in poor countries to describe an improvement in living standards that
wont have costs for the future;
fior example, i imagine the chemical complex at Bhopal was described
as adevelopment when built.
In rainforest areas for example, sustainable developement would not
include the usual logging activities, which profit a few and ruin the
environment and economic opportunities of the majority;
Sustainable development would need to satisfy all of the following
1; it leads to an improvement in the living standards of the majority
2: it does not have environmental; social or economic costs thqat will
follow later
3: the activity will continue after the outside assistance is removed
( ie its not dependant on the help to continue)

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