Sustainable Development according to the Brundtland Report is defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (World Commission on Environment and Development 1987). However, it is the assumption that sustainable development does not take into account the current world population growth, which stresses the need for the utilization of more resources. Population growth results in increasing pressures on natural resources such as water, land, etc. which all contribute significantly to climate change and challenges sustainable use of resources. Population dynamics contribute to the rate of developmental activities which are influenced by social, economic and environmental changes and pressures (Herrman et al 2018).
This statement emphasizes that as the world’s population continues to grow, there is increased pressure on the use of natural resources and the environment which results in degradation and pollution. This ultimately affects the health of humans, livelihoods as well biodiversity and the natural environment. Therefore, it is our obligation to ensure that resources are kept intact and not depleted to the point where they no longer exist. However, it was stated that “in 2011, the world’s population surpassed the 7 billion mark” (Albrectsen 2013). Currently the major challenge involves solving the problem of the increasing population needs and expectations, while trying to modify the current production and consumption patterns to achieve sustainable use of resources by linking development and rapid population growth (Albrectsen 2013).
As such, these statements confirm that sustainable development should not be deemed unrealistic due to increasing population, even though needs will increase; there is a major difference between wants and needs. It is evident that certain parts of the developed world utilize way more resources than those of developing nations. Consequently, where one part of the world cannot meet their own needs, another part is overexploiting resources by utilizing more than they actually need and as result resources are being depleted rapidly globally (World Watch Institute).
Therefore, if the current population is already utilizing more than is needed, then as the population continues to grow, anthropogenic activities will cause the detriment of mankind and the environment. Sustainable development merely stresses the fact that renewable as well as non-renewable resources should be utilized effectively to meet the needs of present generations without overexploiting these resources to the point where they become exhausted. Furthermore, sustainable development should not hinder economic development of developing countries and its growing population. Proper management and equitable sharing of resources are therefore beneficial to both the environment as well as to humans. Humans have to take into account that they need vital resources from the environment in order to survive and if not utilized sustainably, it will affect their own existence. It should also be noted that sustainable development is a holistic and global approach and rapid depletion of resources in one part of the world adversely affects the livelihood of others in another part of the world. Therefore, “human beings are at the centre of concern for sustainable development” (Rio Declaration 1992).
Additionally, the topic of sustainable development has been a topic of debate for a number of years. Some people argue that sustainable development is unrealistic since the needs of future generations in terms of their preferences might be different from ours. Additionally, how do we know that future generations will need the same resources that we are currently utilizing (Solow 1991)? This statement is impracticable since irregardless of the needs of future generations, they should be able to benefit from the same resources that we presently use. Currently a wide range of wildlife rapidly became extinct and is currently threatened. Future generations are currently being deprived of so many resources. It’s sad to know that majority of animals today might become extinct and future generations will only know of them via books. Therefore, it is our basic obligation to protect the environment and leave it in a state that once existed.
Albrectsen Birgitte M, 2013. “Sustainable Development and Population Dynamics: Placing People at the Center”. Accessed September 19, 2018. https://www.unfpa.org/press/sustainable-development-and-population-dynamics-placing-people-centre
Herrman Michael, Jose Miguel Guzman and Daniel Schensul. 2012. United Nations Population Fund (UNFP). “Population Matters for Sustainable Development”, Accessed September 19, 2018. https://www.unfpa.org/sites/default/files/pub-pdf/UNFPA%20Population%20matters%20for%20sustainable%20development_1.pdf
Solow, Robert M. 1991. Sustainability: An Economist’s Perspective. Accessed September 19, 2018. http://www.owlnet.rice.edu/~econ480/notes/sustainability.pdf
Steffen Will, Jacques Grinevald, Paul Crutzen, John McNeill. 2011. “The Anthropocene: conceptual and historical perspectives”. Accessed September 19, 2018. (http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/)
World Watch Institute, Vision of Sustainable World. “The State of Consumption Today”. Accessed September 19, 2018. http://www.worldwatch.org/node/810