Sustainable development is development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs
Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development, United Nations,. 1987
Without a commitment to sustainable development, the depletion of natural resources combined with other environmental destruction can have serious human consequences such as lack of livelihoods, increased poverty and poor health.
Poverty reduction is impossible in the long term unless consideration is given to the natural resources and the environment on which people are dependent and build their livelihoods upon.
Key Environmental Issues for Developing Countries
Agriculture, forestry and land management
As the world population grows, its escalating resource needs place ever-increasing pressure on land. By the end of this century, shortage of land for agriculture will become a critical constraint for over two thirds of the population in developing countries. Tropical timber and the forestry industry is one of the most valuable exports for developing countries which poses challenges for sustainable land management.
- The supply of water and sanitation
Securing poor people's access to water is an important requirement if their quality of life is to be improved. When rivers are shared by several countries, they need to cooperate on developing and protecting them. Since climate change can reduce access to clean water, it is even more important to bolster the ability of developing countries to be economical with the water they have.
Fishing, coastal development and marine environments
Marine and coastal areas represent our largest common global good, and constitute ecosystems of vital importance to the human population of the world. In order to be able to reverse the trend of severe over-exploitation and gradual destruction of marine and coastal resources and habitats, there is a need to promote long-term ecologically and economically sustainable development of oceans and coasts.
Sustainable production for food security and economic growth
Improving food security is both a humanitarian and development priority in fighting extreme poverty and hunger. Economic growth through agriculture is a central and proven tool for many developing countries. There is a need to support research and development of improved technologies and sustainable production practices in developing countries.
Over population and urban environments
Overpopulation is explained in terms of the number of people in a specific area living off certain resources and the capacity of their particular environment to sustain them. By 2008 half of the world’s population was expected to live in urban areas. Most of that urbanization is taking place in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. If this trend continues it will impact overpopulated urban areas which threaten communities’ access to clean water, waste management systems, health, food and security.
General natural resource management and biological diversity
The world's greatest concentration of biological wealth is found in tropical developing countries. In developing countries loss of biodiversity will continue to accelerate due to effects of activities such as deforestation, urban expansion, pollution and land clearing for agriculture. Conservation efforts in developing countries call for a balance between the need to maintain sustainable resource management and supporting people’s livelihoods. Pressure on renewable natural resources to produce food and energy will continue. Developing countries continue to play a key role in biofuels and other alternatives such as managing ecosystems services.
Natural Disasters and Risk Management
Natural disasters may cause large economic impacts and impede socioeconomic development in developing countries where populations are most vulnerable and impacts are catastrophic. Increasingly, risk management, the management of disasters before the actual occurrence of events, is being advocated.
Socio-economic impacts of environmental issues
Increasingly the socio-economic impacts of environmental pressures such as climate change and water scarcity in the developing world have led to forced migration, political instability and potential conflicts. There is a need for greater co-operation among developing countries and between countries at different stages of economic and social development for environmental sustainability.
To download teachers resources on Sustainable Development to use within the class room (for key stage 4) click here
With thanks to Tzedek for this information