“Within environmental discourse there has been ever-growing mention of the notion of Sustainable development: discuss the idea of Sustainable Development as a means to curb Environmental Injustice and to what extent such a notion can be implemented in current global market and capitalist system.” Introduction
Sustainable Development (here on abbreviated to SD) has been a major issue when discussing the environment and environmental ethics. The following discussion will examine the concept of SD and whether it is an effective means to curb environmental injustice. The discussion will begin by examining how the concept has been defined and why these definitions are often controversial. Thereafter, the challenges faced by those seeking to use the concept to curb environmental injustice will be discussed. This will necessitate looking at the levels of commitment in the implementation of the goals of SD and whether it is indeed possible to achieve a healthy balance between the interests of economic growth and environmental protection and management In conclusion we will examine whether SD can be achieved in developing countries as a means to curb environmental injustices as caused by capitalism, specifically looking at the high levels of poverty, unemployment and inequality and what path must be taken to achieve this symbiosis. Discussion of the definitions of SD and Environmental Justice Brundtland (1987) defines the concept of SD as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” This definition arose from Brundtland Report in 1987 entitled “Our Common Future”. John Drexhage and Deborah Murphy (2012:2) explain how SD incorporates three key pillars of economic development, social equity, and environmental protection. They also highlight how development within the modern world should incorporate these three parameters and allow for development on all fronts that is positive, not destructive and results in environmental justice. Although the abovementioned definition of SD is the most common, and shall be the one used for the purposes of how SD has been developed within the world, it must be said that it is limited (Sachs, 1999:3). Sachs describes the concept of SD as a ruin standing within our intellectual landscape that is left for people to build on however they see fit (1999:3). The definition often raises complications and is said to be problematic as it is left to interpretation. Therefore one of the biggest challenges facing the notion of SD is the lack of a definitive and solid definition. When examining the abovementioned definition one finds that the concept is defined in an abstract manner and lacks practicality (Sachs, 1999:3). SD is often described as an oxymoron and a vague concept that is formulated in jargon it allows for those who use the concept to adapt it to their own needs and will.
When reading around the concept of SD one finds that Rogers et al (2008:23) gives an effective definition of how SD must be viewed. The authors state that the core idea of sustainability is that current decisions should not impair the prospects for maintaining or improving future living standards. The authors discuss how there should be development that involves not only economic growth but social equity and environmental protection (Rogers et al 2008:23). According to Rogers et al (2008:25) there are basic ways to achieve effective sustainability, these include leaving everything in as pristine a state as possible, whilst developing in a way that does not overwhelm the capacity of the environmental system and further create poverty within the disenfranchised which will then result in sustainability and economic growth. Although Rogers et al (2008:24) gives, in my perspective, a better interpretation of SD, one can still find limitations within the definition and the authors themselves state that one of the biggest issues facing SD is that...
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