Is Sustainable Development Achievable?

25 January 2008 at 12:40 | 3018 views

By Ahmed Ojulla Bangura,Bradford, UK.

There is a global concern that natural capital and economic capital should be utilised prudently to benefit all generations. With natural resources being used for consumption and production of other economic goods, the way they are utilised has to be environmental friendly. Natural capital could be either renewable or non-renewable and serves as the backbone of all forms of capital. So every effort should be done to preserve and conserve them. But, unfortunately, there has been worldwide depletion of these resources at every level, magnitude, and purpose. The cause of depletion is not only mass consumption but rather mass destruction caused by politically motivated wars led by pride and supremacy.

It is undoubtedly clear in contemporary times that resources are not only depleted through extraction and production but equally by depreciation and destruction of economic capital. Many environmental commentators attribute environmental problems with mass depletion of natural capital. Whilst this argument holds true, one must examine the reasons behind rapid depletion of natural capital. Put in a simplistic hypothesis, the high rate of destruction of economic capital (infrastructure) through wars and conflicts, demands more natural capital for reconstructions. For instance, any house destroyed or bridge bombed demands either directly or indirectly the use of natural capital.

Intuitively, it implies that achieving sustainable development is subject to avoiding causes of wastages and promoting the culture of preservation and conservation.

One way of avoiding wastage is by avoiding conflicts and wars. The perpetrators and victims are all losers of economic and environmental sustainability. The perpetrator requires resources to start and sustain the conflict and the victim grab on any little of it to survive in the cause of conflict. The conflicting demand for resource jeopardises the use of available resources; thus exerting pressure on and accelerating their depletion. After mass destruction due to prolong conflicts, resources are needed again for rehabilitation. This means that resources that could have been utilised by future generation is being used to rehabilitate economic capital that was constructed earlier either directly and indirectly using a variety of natural capital

Achieving Sustainable Development demands holistic consideration of resource location and use. It can not be achieved by protecting resources in one part of the continent or the world whilst depleting resources in another part; it can not work if resources of one country are exploited unfairly at discriminatory prices because of weak or collapse political systems; we can not achieve it if some nations are bent to maximise economic growth and development at the expense of others through war; we can not if some countries continue to be primary producers whilst industrialised countries pollute and contribute immensely to global problems like Global Warming; we can not if the top-bottom policy approach on enacting and implementing treaties are influenced by a single country or few countries for their own economic interest instead of the majority; we can not if the world continues to be at war. All of the above reasons propel a volcanic cause of conflict and subsequent destruction and depletion of resources.

There must be a self fulfilling desire towards growth and sustainability for the unavoidable paradigm to be achievable. Wars for any forms of interest should be avoided. The absence of this intrinsic acceptance erodes the desire to make society better-off and instead increases unimaginable circle of exploitation and destruction of available resources.