Meaning and concept of sustainable development for the protection of environment and the role of India

Bhaskar Mahanayak *

Department of Zoology, Berhampore Girls’ College, Berhampore, Murshidabad, India.
Research Article
World Journal of Advanced Research and Reviews, 2024, 22(03), 1460–1465
Article DOI: 10.30574/wjarr.2024.22.3.1856
Publication history: 
Received on 12 May 2024; revised on 20 June 2024; accepted on 23 June 2024
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. This concept, first popularized by the 1987 Brundtland Report, addresses the overexploitation of resources and the mismanagement of technology. Sustainable development aims to balance current needs with future sustainability, focusing on several key aspects: climate change, biodiversity, hazardous waste disposal, pollution, and ecological security. The threats to sustainable development are diverse and complex. Climate change, driven by global warming, poses a significant risk, requiring integrated and sustainable management of natural resources. Malnutrition remains a persistent issue in many developing countries, threatening food and nutrition security. Income inequality, both within and among nations, has been rising, leading to social conflict. Unplanned urbanization, particularly in developing countries, demands significant investments in urban infrastructure. Environmental pollution from fossil fuels and inadequate energy access for millions of households also challenges sustainable development. Additionally, financial crises, high population growth, and urban slums exacerbate these issues, while biodiversity loss and environmental pollution further strain the planet's resources. Global challenges to sustainable development are influenced by changing demographic profiles, economic and social dynamics, technological advancements, and environmental deterioration. The 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development highlighted the need for addressing interconnected challenges, including decent jobs, sustainable cities, food security, sustainable agriculture, water, oceans, and disaster readiness. Major unsustainable activities have led to significant ecological degradation. These include deforestation, depletion of water resources, increased floods and droughts, land degradation, and pollution. Effective sustainable development requires guiding principles such as intergenerational equity, conservation of biodiversity, sustainable income, precautionary policies, equitable resource use, and efficiency in resource utilization. Sustainable development measures focus on using appropriate technology, reducing, reusing, and recycling resources, environmental education, and utilizing resources within their carrying capacities. The Earth Summit in 1992 adopted Agenda 21, setting a global action program for sustainable development. The United Nations' Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of 2000 evolved into the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2016, outlining 17 goals to be achieved by 2030. These goals include ending poverty and hunger, ensuring health and well-being, quality education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, affordable energy, decent work, reduced inequality, sustainable cities, responsible consumption, climate action, conserving marine and terrestrial ecosystems, promoting peace and justice, and fostering global partnerships. India has a long tradition of environmental conservation rooted in its cultural heritage. Deities associated with animals have indirectly promoted wildlife conservation, while sacred groves and the worship of animals and plants reflect a deep-rooted environmental ethos. Modern initiatives, such as the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC), address climate challenges through missions on solar energy, energy efficiency, sustainable habitat, water, Himalayan ecosystems, Green India, sustainable agriculture, and strategic knowledge on climate change. Programs like Swachh Bharat Mission, Green Skill Development Programme, Namami Gange Programme, and National River Conservation Programme further demonstrate India's commitment to environmental protection.
India's achievements in sustainable development are noteworthy. The country has reduced poverty, improved maternal and child health, achieved near-universal primary school enrollment, increased female labor force participation, reduced child marriage, and improved access to drinking water and sanitation. Despite being the world's most populous country, India's blend of traditional conservation practices and modern sustainable development policies significantly contributes to global progress on SDGs. This holistic approach, integrating environmental, social, and economic challenges, is crucial for ensuring a sustainable future for all.
Sustainable Development; Threats to Sustainability; Guiding Principles of Sustainability; Agenda 21 and SDGs; India's Role in Sustainable Development
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