What is 'sustainable development'? A few words from the experts

What is 'sustainable development'? A few words from the experts

"Dirty growth" isn't sustainable, but some argue that poor countries shouldn't worry about that if it helps bring their citizens out of poverty. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/enil/473878538/sizes/z/in/photostream/">Mr enil</a>
"Dirty growth" isn't sustainable, but some argue that poor countries shouldn't worry about that if it helps bring their citizens out of poverty. Photo: Mr enil

With the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development on the horizon next month, several development experts are offering up their opinions on what "sustainability" actually means.

Check out some of their thoughts about how poverty reduction must be tackled by paying attention to increasing capacity, resilience and innovation.

The Guardian’s Poverty Matters Blog writes that sustainable development is a multi-pronged process:

Sustainable development tackles affluence and excess, not just poverty, and it is the high-income countries that most need to alter their resource use (with a gradually increasing burden of responsibility on middle-income countries, especially the largest ones).

Technological advance, perhaps more than anything else, has led to rapid reductions in poverty. Investing more in research could lead to technological solutions to poverty and sustainability problems becoming more rapidly and openly available.

There is a serious danger that poor countries may come under pressure to compromise on poverty reduction objectives for the sake of the planet...[yet] the poorest countries should follow whatever path best brings them out of poverty, including engaging in dirty growth if that means eradicating poverty faster.

Former New Zealand Prime Minister and current United Nations Development Program administrator Helen Clark writes that building resilient communities is the core of sustainable development.

Sustainable development based on resilience calls for developing the capacity of the poor to overcome challenges.

Sustainable development isn’t only about the environment. It isn’t just for governments, and it isn’t just about now.

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