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Sustainable Development: Is it a reality or a phantom? Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Erick Ochieng Otieno, Kenya Aug 26, 2007
Environment , Human Rights , Globalization   Opinions


Everyone in the world yearns for a better life. It takes different forms of needs. There are those who want to have industries built for them and get employed, there are those who want a better infrastructure, such as proper roads -so as to have a faster growing economy. The list may be endless. One thing remains clear-for every value one reaps from development initiative, there is a corresponding degradation of the natural resources in which the development is derived from.

One question that everyone should ask themselves is this- can we have these developments while ensuring that there are enough resources for the future generation? This is what has been disturbing many would be social entrepreneurs as well as economic entrepreneurs.

Sustainable development is surely the way to go for any community that prides itself in taking care of the future generation’s survival. What then, is sustainable development? Going by a lay man’s description, it is the form of development that will allow for development in the future. To be more precise, sustainable development is a way of providing for our needs while at the same time ensuring that the future generation’s means to satisfy their needs are not hampered. This can be done by ensuring that the environmental resources are used sparingly.

In many cases, this has never been the case. A good example is in the case of building settlements and roads. A lot of trees have been cut down in large numbers, to pave way for these human immediate needs, with total disregard for the role these trees play in the lives of the current generations and future generations.

Though we need shelter and roads, a lot of care needs to be taken so that we do not solve a problem by creating a monster. Most of these settlements are created in environmentally prime areas such as the catchments, wetlands, and forests which play a very vital role in ecosystem balancing. The catchments, forests, and wetlands play very vital roles such as hydrologic balancing as well as in carbon gas sequestration in the case of forests.

With large amounts of green house gases emitted in the form of industrial development, forests come in handy to absorb the excess green house gases. But with these forests removed, it then follows the fact that there will be little surface areas for the absorption of the excess carbon emissions. This is a recipe for trouble as is seen by the climate change phenomena.

What therefore should be done? In my opinion, many governments have not had a good development policy which caters for sustainable development. This should be the first stepping stone. By coming together as stakeholders, there should be a policy paper that clearly defines sustainable development and weighs all the pros and cons of any development initiative so as to prevent a scenario of development at the expense of sustainability.

Development is good, but that which prevents the future generation’s wellbeing is not development at all. It is a call, therefore, to embrace sustainable development as our pillar, to ensure though we want to make our lives better- we need to ensure that the future will also enjoy the same.



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Erick Ochieng Otieno

I was a student from Egerton University. I pursued a course leading to a BSc in Applied Aquatic Sciences. I believe that through writing, one can relieve a lot from the heart. Inspiration came from hearing and reading. Whoever said that you have to be an old one to communicate issues of policies, did not consider that even a newborn communicates through its own way, "crying". I would like to communicate to the world all my thoughts; However minor they are, I believe they will go a great length to straighten or strengthen a policy or two somewhere and I shall have contributed to the well being of the world. How noble that is, it is for my worthy readers to let me know. So what do you think? Tell me anytime. Bye and have a nice reading.
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