The Threat of Climate Change Demands a New Understanding of Development
Ever since the Club of Rome report on Limits to Growth in the 1970s, followed by the Brundtland Report in 1987 which defined sustainable development as ‘development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’, and the first Earth Summit on Environment and Development in Rio in 1992, there has been a recognition that ‘development’ and ‘environment’ are inextricably linked. Even so, organisations addressing development and social justice issues have tended to regard concern for the environment as an add-on for those with time and money, while environmental organisations have been slow to show interest in the problems facing the human community. So the question ‘What is development?’ has not been examined in an integrated way, allowing the term ‘sustainable development’ to be used without questioning whether this is a contradiction in terms.
The idea has persisted that development is linked primarily to economic growth and participation in the global market – a market that is linked to a consumer culture that keeps up the demand for more products. Furthermore, the production of more and more products has resulted in the increasing exploitation of the earth’s natural resources, including the use of fossil fuels, with little regard for the limits of those resources or the damage being caused to the finely balanced eco-systems that sustain life.Continue reading “The Threat of Climate Change Demands a New Understanding of Development”