Examples of Sustainable DevelopmentAlthough sustainable development is defined in multiple ways, the most often cited definition of the term comes from the Bruntland Report titled, “Our Common Future.” According to the report, sustainable development is “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” From this particular definition, sustainable development can be reduced to two key concepts: needs and limitations. Needs refers to those in need—the world’s poor.  The limitations are those “imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment’s ability to meet present and future needs.” Though many examples of sustainable development exist, the leading models are discussed below.

Top 5 Examples of Sustainable Development

  1. Solar Energy: The greatest advantages of solar energy are that it is completely free and is available in limitless supply. Both of these factors provide a huge benefit to consumers and help reduce pollution. Replacing non-renewable energy with this type of energy is both environmentally and financially effective.
  2. Wind Energy: Wind energy is another readily available energy source. Harnessing the power of wind energy necessitates the use of windmills; however, due to construction cost and finding a suitable location, this kind of energy is meant to serve more than just the individual. Wind energy can supplement or even replace the cost of grid power, and therefore may be a good investment and remains a great example of sustainable development.
  3. Crop Rotation: Crop rotation is defined as “the successive planting of different crops on the same land to improve soil fertility and help control insects and diseases.” This farming practice is beneficial in several ways, most notably because it is chemical-free. Crop rotation has been proven to maximize the growth potential of land, while also preventing disease and insects in the soil. Not only can this form of development benefit commercial farmers, but it can also aid those who garden at home.
  4. Efficient Water Fixtures: Replacing current construction practices and supporting the installation of efficient showerheads, toilets and other water appliances can conserve one of Earth’s most precious resources: water. Examples of efficient fixtures include products from the EPA’s WaterSense program, as well as dual-flush and composting toilets. According to the EPA, it takes a lot of energy to produce and transport water and to process wastewater, and since less than one percent of the Earth’s available water supply is freshwater, it is important that sustainable water use is employed at the individual and societal level.
  5. Green Space: Green spaces include parks and other areas where plants and wildlife are encouraged to thrive. These spaces also offer the public great opportunities to enjoy outdoor recreation, especially in dense, urban areas. According to the UW-Madison Department of Urban and Regional Planning, advantages of green spaces include, “helping regulate air quality and climate … reducing energy consumption by countering the warming effects of paved surfaces … recharging groundwater supplies and protecting lakes and streams from polluted runoff.” Research conducted in the U.K. by the University of Exeter Medical School also found that moving to a greener area could lead to significant and lasting improvements to an individual’s mental health.

– Samantha Davis

Sources: World Bank , International Institute of Sustainable DevelopmentGreen Living, Science Daily, Project Evergreen, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Photo: Flickr

Literacy is a crucial socioeconomic factor in poverty. In developing countries, approximately one in every two adults can’t read or write, with the situation only worse in the rural areas, especially for women and minors. UNESCO is working to prove that literacy reduces poverty and to support initiatives in the area.

According to UNICEF, “Children and youth living in rural areas have little access to education or skills training programs, and overall the quality of education in rural areas is generally low due to poverty and limited investment resources.”

Additionally, the drop-out rate for children leaving an educational institution after primary school is high, leaving minors without adequate literacy and skills to survive.

“Literacy is a fundamental human right and the foundation for lifelong learning,” according to UNESCO. “It is fully essential to social and human development in its ability to transform lives… A literate community is a dynamic community, one that exchanges ideas and engages in debate. Illiteracy, however, is an obstacle to a better quality of life, and can even breed exclusion and violence.”

Better assessment of literacy challenges is critical to reducing global illiteracy. UNESCO’s main focus will be to encourage the governments of developing countries to consider education as a crucial instrument in driving development and transformation as well as in reducing poverty and empowering citizens.

“The administrative institutions of these countries have to prioritize the development and provision of access to primary education to children under 15 years,” said a spokesperson for UNESCO. Governments should provide literacy courses and basic skills training to people who left school or received no education at all.

Furthermore, this year UNESCO plans to introduce “livelihood-oriented adult non-formal education initiatives,” offered in partnership with other community-based organizations, in order to promote education, reduce illiteracy and alleviate poverty.

For more than 60 years, UNESCO has worked to ensure that literacy remains a priority; however, this year, the introduction of a program with a vision toward livelihood-oriented initiatives will bring a new type of dynamism to the effort.

“Literacy is at the core of sustainable solutions to the world’s greatest problems,” said former First Lady, Laura Bush. “Literacy builds the foundation for freedom from poverty, and freedom from oppression.”

Isabella Rölz

Sources: DDV International, UNESCO, The White House Education, Mrs. Bush
Photo: UN