From an economics point of view, sustainability is the ability to be sustained, without causing problems such as inflation. Ecologically speaking, it is the ability of a project, activity or business to be maintained at a steady level without exhausting natural resources or causing ecological damage. Going to a broader sense and in more general terms, the organizing principle of sustainability is sustainable development, which includes four interconnected domains: economics, ecology, politics and culture.
In a world constantly full of changes, where sometimes progress and financial bottom lines speak louder than our planet’s future or even the survival of the human race, sustainability should be a common ideal for us all. We must be in a constant search for ways of reducing the negative human impact on natural ecosystems, no matter what we do. Sustainable development involves balancing local and global efforts to meet basic human needs without destroying or degrading the natural environment. Unfortunately, we have seen in the past many episodes of environmental accidents taking place in a country, with impacts over communities and ecosystems far away. It is sad that we still see this happening in the present days.
Much more than a final destination, sustainable development is a process and no matter which bad decisions we may have made in the past that can jeopardize the future, revisiting those decisions allows us to write brighter times to come to our Home. And we is the key word here since in different levels, each one of us has a role in taking good care of our planet, either by voting for representatives that demonstrate concern and reasonable plans for the environmental issues, choosing from brands that take concrete actions related to the ecosystem or being part of the solution ourselves, such as recycling and generating less waste.
Sustainable development has different scopes, or we may say dimensions, being the economic one of them. With this in mind, our goal should be to work on a set of actions to be taken by the present generation that will not diminish the possibilities of the future generations to enjoy levels of consumption, wealth, health and well-being, comparable to those enjoyed by us. For instance, we note that the developed world population is only increasing slightly, but consumption levels are unmanageable. The challenge for sustainability is to curb and manage the consumption while raising the standard of living of the developing world without increasing its resource use and environmental impact.
We see here an interface with a second dimension, which is social. The points mentioned above related to consumption will require changes, that is to say, social challenges. They involve, among other things, actions to adjust international and national laws, urban planning and transportation, local and individual lifestyles and ethical consumerism, just to mention a few.
Since all dimensions have reciprocal relations, we observe at this point a cultural dimension of this matter. As the actions described above could create a ‘standardized civilization’, we can’t put at risk the cultural diversity of each people. For example, with globalization advancing quickly the number of indigenous cultures is dropping at alarming rates, which is not only negative, but very sad.
Technology is one of the core concepts in sustainability, as it can be used to help people to meet their developmental needs. For example, typically a chemical product can be manufactured via different ways. The use of the appropriate technology will lead to better productivity of the process, generating not only higher profitability for the business owner, but also to the use of less raw materials, energy saving and creating less – hopefully none – deterioration of the environment. A classical case where all the players benefit and take advantage of intelligence and creativity.
Sustainability requires that human activity only uses Nature’s resources at a rate at which they can be replenished naturally. The long-term result of environmental degradation is the inability to sustain human life. Such degradation on a global scale could imply an increase in human death rate until population falls into what the degraded environment can support. If the degradation continues beyond a certain point it would be catastrophic, eventually leading to the extinction of the humanity.
The concept of sustainable development has been subject to criticism. What exactly is to be sustained in sustainable development? Some argue that there is no such thing as a sustainable use of a non-renewable resource since any positive rate of exploitation will eventually lead to the exhaustion of Earth’s finite stock. The major driving forces behind any project or development action should be common sense and balance, leading to a win-win prospect for economic growth and ecological stability. We should all have the goal of leaving for the generations to come a better planet than the one we have received from the generations that came before us. If everyone does his/ her share we will get there. Small, but consistent actions in the right direction go a long way. Mother Earth thanks us all!
This article is for general, indicative purpose only and should not be considered investment advice. Florida Connexion is not liable for any financial loss, damage, expense or costs arising from your investment decisions based on this article.
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