By now we’ve all likely heard mention of sustainable development & design and ‘green’ building; while the general concept is fairly straightforward and widely accepted as a good idea in theory, many individuals don’t fully understand the impact of, (and critical need for,) such developmental practices.

The Brundtland Commission defines sustainable development as:

“Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

What is Sustainable Development, and Why is it So Important?This sums it up for the most part, but as expected, there are many initiatives that must be implemented to back up this crucial global objective. If you’ve ever wondered what sustainable development really means, or why it is so important to life on our planet, read on for more information…

Over the past two decades in particular, economic growth has come at the expense of the environment. Earth’s natural resources have been used in ways that are environmentally inefficient and wasteful, with dangerous consequences such as decreased air quality and overall climate change.

Sustainable development is a carefully planned strategy to embrace growth while using resources more efficiently, with utmost consideration of immediate AND long-term benefits for our planet and the humans who live on it.

There are 3 primary objectives of sustainable development:

  • Economic growth – building a strong, competitive economy, by ensuring that sufficient land of the right type is available in the right places and at the right time to support growth and innovation; and identifying then coordinating development requirements.
  • Environmental protection – contributing to protecting and enhancing our natural and developed environment, while helping to improve biodiversity, use natural resources wisely, minimizing waste and pollution, and adapting to and helping to decrease climate change, including a global shift to low-carbon economy.
  • Social inclusion – supporting strong, vibrant and healthy communities by providing the supply of housing required to meet the needs of present and future generations; and by creating a high-quality of development, with accessible local services that reflect the community’s needs and support its health, social and cultural well-being.

These are applied across all sectors of development, including:

  • urbanization
  • agriculture
  • infrastructure
  • energy use
  • water availability
  • transportation

To achieve effective sustainable development, the 3 primary objectives must be applied simultaneously, interacting with one another in a consistent, committed effort.

Applying these strategies to development means that cities must embrace low-carbon growth and public transportation, climate-smart agriculture, preservation of natural resources and greater efficiency in energy and the global supply chain.

Sustainable development practices help countries grow in ways that adapt to the challenges posed by climate change, which will in turn help to protect important natural resources for ours and future generations.

By the year 2050, it is estimated that our global population will likely reach 9 billion people. The challenge of sustainable development is to move forward in such a way that every single one of these people will be able to enjoy a substantial quality of life without being detrimental to our natural resources.