This article “Sustainable development” focuses on how after second world war, development enthusiasts were to envisage a programme for universal benefits through scientific advances, industrial achievements, economic growth, cultural modernization and industrialization through institutional arrangements, rather than following European style colonialism, and blood and guts conquest of territory and exploitation. The central task was to set about trying to reconcile the goals of development with the challenges of scarcity, overpopulation and ecological struggles, and here, emerged the concept of sustainable development. There was a need for rational planning, managerial strategies and global arrangements for greening the idea of development. Now, the theories on succession and community, and ecosystem have emerged which give the concept of natural balance with the help of non-biotic components. So, there exist uncertainties that human intervention in aiming to be environmentally restorative or protective in a seemingly chaotic environment might end up freezing ecological processes. In later years, shifts in ecological theory have suggested that conservation or nature preservation efforts were unhelpfully being anchored in outdated static and equilibrium ecosystem model. The article also focuses on the challenges to establish criteria of measuring ‘sustainability’ interventions, considering the elements of science, politics and society.
The developmental strategies cannot overlook the consequences of scientific and technical implementation, which have adverse affect on the nature and our surroundings. The challenge for achieving environmental sustainability cannot be limited to merely arriving at treaties, conventions, summits global legislations and bureaucratic and administrative interventions. The idea of sustainable development has been influenced by often times contradictory social and intellectual currents, affected by the political and social traction. Emergence of political environmentalism, conservation organizations and expert forums has shown concern on likely fall out of potentially catastrophic environmental crisis, urging for developmental restraint rather than political justice.
The era of development has been influence by the colonial rule that could be presented as modernizing force, aimed primarily at achieving productive efficiencies through the technicalization of economic activity. With the passage of time, many of the core claims about limitless economic growth, the triumphal nature of modern technology and the necessary elimination of tradition. Many countries, both in the developed and developing world in this period, have witnessed alarms about the environmental costs of economic growth. In India, these environmental issues have been linked with the issues of socio-economic inequality, exploitation, political challenges etc., and characterizing social movements as ecological struggles against developmental initiatives. The organizations here have concluded that changes in the environment have a direct on the lives of the people, particularly who are dependent on the nature for their survival. The ‘environmentalism of the poor’ has been explaining both the ecological concerns and the class politics. On the other hand, international conferences at Stockholm, pointing towards maintaining essential ecological processes, preserving genetic diversity and ensuring the sustainable utilization of natural resources, and Rio that focused on biodiversity and climate change, could not analyze the velocity of global environmental degradation and pollution, and failed to address conservation problems. The challenge of developments has been often linked with the social, political and environmental aspects, without upsetting the ‘business-as-usual’ model, and these environmental challenges should be treated as truly global and international efforts. Concerned organizations have submitted reports, appealing to the governments and policy makers, to rethink on development challenges with regard to environmental policies and procedures, without needlessly looking for the total system overhaul. The ecosystem development has proved to be influential in popularizing the concept of nature as having an orderly, directional and predictable path which is arguably evolved towards greater complexity, diversity and stability. Nature is regularly altered at every scale of time and space by a host of short or long term factors that are regularly generated by both internal and external agents. Even in the non-biotic part of the nature, change is recurring and constant. Shifts in ecology theory from an obsession with sustaining nature in states of static equilibrium have now begun to acknowledge the chaotic dynamism within natural processes. Due to unsettling of dynamic ecological processes, the idea of sustainable development is now confronted with a fresh set of challenges, with the emphasis shifting from protection and conservation to an approach that is more tuned to grasping process, dynamic change, feedback loops and environmental disturbances. Though the developments have begun to be questioned and challenged, the political nature of the ecological costs or the social impacts from environmental degradation were most acutely brought to the fore through several popular struggles and movements. In terms of its operational content, sustainable development has functioned as an empty shell of sorts, with diverse agendas which hardly could make positive changes though these are capable of shaping it as a developmental possibility, as they are more enable in inspiring political and environmental imaginations.
There has been a paradigm shift in ecology theory which has consequences for those advocating sustainable development as either a form of green developmentalism or as an attempt at nature conservation. It has been sought to reconcile development goals with environmental concerns through science, technology, management interventions and rational planning. Environmental discourse must not only acknowledge strong social linkages with ecological worlds but also work with ‘plural values’ in decision-making. Now, the idea of sustainable development is conceptualized as a response to business-as-usual model of development, where environment has been factored in as a definitive natural limit.
The concept of sustainable development can be precisely understood as development with ideologies and cultural preferences with the science and technical efforts, tended to be saturated with pursuits for technical expertise, management skills, technological inputs and theories about carrying out modernization agendas through institutional arrangements. Governments and international bodies should, through their policies and programmes, indicate their intention to change an existing developmental strategy without affecting political or social arrangements. It still has to be given shape as the ambiguous meaning of sustainable development continues to inspire and enable political and environmental imaginations.

Tags: Environment

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