One of the mostimportant conclusions is the understanding that for our future there is onlyone way to solve the problems.
This is only by realising that economic andenvironmental problems are inseparable and should be solved together. Development cannot be based on the ruthless destruction ofnatural resources; the environment cannot be protected when enlargement doesnot take into account environmental damage. These problems cannot be addressedseparately by uncoordinated institutions or without a common policy.Sustainable development must be carried out in a balanced and parallel way withfour dimensions that are inseparable: social, economic, environmental andpolitical.
There is a great deal of connection between these dimensions -solutions in one of the dimensions will always have an impact on otherdimensions. In many sources, the principles of sustainability are referred toonly three: environmental protection, economy, social aspects, and policyissues are proposed to integrate into each of them. However, it is important tonote that political context of sustainable development are of great importance.When it comes tosustainability environmental sustainability plays one of the most importantroles. Herman Daly, one of the early pioneers of ecological sustainability,looked at the problem from maintenance of natural capital viewpoint.
In 1990 heproposed that: “1. For renewable resources, the rate of harvest should notexceed the rate of regeneration (sustainable yield); 2. The rates of wastegeneration from projects should not exceed the assimilative capacity of the environment(sustainable waste disposal); and 3. For non-renewable resources the depletionof the non-renewable resources should require comparable development ofrenewable substitutes for that resource.” This list has been widely accepted.
The list can be shortened into a tight definition. Environmental sustainabilityis the rates of renewable resource harvest, pollution creation, andnon-renewable resource depletion that can be continued indefinitely. If theycannot be continued indefinitely then they are not sustainable. Basically theworld’s standard definition of environmental sustainability is sustainabledevelopment, which means sustainable economic growth, which is an oxymoron. Noform of economic growth can be continued indefinitely. Furthermore, alleconomic growth today is terribly environmentally degrading. Thus it’simpossible to be sustainable and achieve economic growth at the same time, nowand for at least the next 50 years or so. The Daly definition, even theshortened version, omits the level of quality of life that a sustainable systemcan support.
It’s generally implied it should be high. Who wants to live in adegraded world full of pollution, dead oceans, and suffocating heat? It appearswe need a new term that includes that extra dimension. But then again, wedon’t.
We already have that term. It’s The Three Pillars of Sustainability (social,environmental and economic sustainability). When all three pillars are strong,people live in a system where high quality life is the norm. They have a cleanhealthy environment, a satisfactory level of economic well-being, and a robustlevel of social fulfilment.