Development & Sustainable use of Resources: Civil Services Mentor Magazine October 2012

Development & Sustainable use of Resources

If we go by the dictionary the development has following meanings:

  • The systematic use of scientific and technical knowledge to meet specific objectives or requirements.
  • An extension of the theoretical or practical aspects of a concept, design, discovery, or invention.
  • The process of economic and social transformation that is based on complex cultural and environmental factors and their interactions.
  • The process of adding improvements to a parcel of land, such as grading, subdivisions, drainage, access, roads, utilities.

Today the main challenge in front of international community is to sustain and accelerate the process of poverty eradication and ensure food and energy security, particularly to developing countries while shifting gradually to a Green Economy. A green economy approach to development holds the potential to achieve greater convergence between economic and environmental objectives. Agriculture plays a critical role in determining food, water, ecological and livelihood security. Integrating the strategies and policies for a green economy into agriculture has to proceed with an absolute imperative of ensuring these and not forgetting the differentiated needs of subsistence agriculture and marketoriented crops. Also, transitioning to a greener model of agriculture will depend on the expeditious provision of green technologies and financial support to developing countries for productivity enhancement, improved resilience and  diversification of production systems. Sustainable development and management of agriculture would benefit from sharing of best practices including farm and non-farm development, improved post-harvest management, integration of supply chains and strengthening of public distribution systems. Eradicating poverty is an indispensible requirement for sustainable development. A major cause aggravating poverty is the unsustainable pattern of consumption and production. Poverty eradication remains an overriding objective of governments in developing countries, and efforts to build green economies should contribute substantially to realizing that objective.

Integrating green economy strategies and policies into poverty eradication, food security and energy security is an imperative for sustainable development. Food security and access to affordable clean energy are both crucial to eradicating poverty and promoting social development. The issue of energy security and universal energy access is intricately linked with economic development and growth, and rising energy needs to meet it. Energy poverty coexists with inefficient energy use in much of the world, which – given continued heavy dependence on fossil fuels – has been a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Understanding the flexibility or lack of flexibility of each country to change this energy mix and devising innovative methods to secure energy security are the need of the hour without compromising on the need for high economic growth to meet the aspirations of the people, especially in developing countries. Energy security is a multifaceted concept. In the current context, the primary focus is on poor people’s securing adequate energy supplies to raise their living standards, including through improved income generation, health and education. Renewable energy should be considered as an integral part of the solution to the energy needs of the poor, but that will only be feasible if it is affordable and technologically accessible. As affordability is a function in part of large-scale deployment and learning, the strategy to address energy poverty needs to be linked to a broader alternative energy strategy as part of a green economy. With respect to energy security, rural energy access remains seriously deficient in many developing countries, with well over a billion people lacking access to electricity and clean cooking and heating fuels. At the same time, even in urban areas, electricity is often underprovided and unreliable, especially for urban poor communities. This exacerbates poverty and closes off escape routes by limiting income generation opportunities as well as educational opportunities especially for girls.

What is Green Economy?

A green economy is typically understood as an economic system that is compatible with the natural environment, is environmentally friendly, is ecological, and for many groups, is also socially just. These attributes are the conditions that must be imposed on an economy from the perspective of many green economy advocates. This conventional concept of a green economy may be alternatively described as “the greening of an economy”. Some fundamental criteria for meeting these conditions have been established since Rio, such as using renewable resources within their regenerative capacity, making up for the loss of non-renewable resources by creating their renewable substitutes, limiting pollution within the sink functions of nature, and maintaining ecosystem stability and resilience. A Green Economy is a system of economic activities related to the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services that results in improved human wellbeing over the long term, whilst not exposing future generations to significant environmental risks and ecological scarcities. Conditions for social justice may include: 1) not compromising future generations’ capability to meet their needs; 2) the rights of poor countries and poor people to development and the obligations of rich countries and rich people to changing their excessive consumption levels; 3) equal treatment of women in access to resources and opportunities; and 4) ensuring decent labor conditions. A green economy is one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. A green economy is a economy or economic development model based on sustainable development and a knowledge of ecological economics. Its most distinguishing feature from prior economic regimes is direct valuation of natural capital and ecological services as having economics value and a full cost accounting regime in which costs externalized onto society via ecosystems are reliably traced back to, and accounted for as liabilities of, the entity that does the harm or neglects an asset. Green Economy defined by Karl Burkart is based on six main sectors, which are as follows:

  • Renewable energy (solar, wind, geothermal, marine including wave, biogas, and fuel cell)
  • Green buildings (green retrofits for energy and water efficiency, residential and commercial assessment; green products and materials, and LEED construction)
  • Clean transportation (alternative fuels, public transit, hybrid and electric vehicles, carsharing and carpooling programs)
  • Water management (Water reclamation, greywater and rainwater systems, low-water landscaping, water purification, stormwater management)
  • Waste management (recycling, municipal solid waste salvage, brownfield land remediation, Superfund cleanup, sustainable packaging)
  • Land management (organic agriculture, habitat conservation and restoration; urban forestry and parks, reforestation and afforestation and soil stabilization)