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Our natural environment includes all living and non living things like land, forests, minerals, water bodies, the atmosphere, etc.  Some of these resources are renewable and others are non renewable, which get depleted and ultimately exhausted with their continuous use. Even the renewable resources may get degraded or polluted. Economic development leads to increase in the rate of national income. Increase in national income would result only from increased production of goods and services. This is only possible with greater consumption of natural resources such as land, forest, fuels etc. Thus reckless and thoughtless use of these resources would cause their exhaustion and degradation, thereby reduce productivity and impede economic growth. As a result our future generations will not get enough resources for their use thus adversely affecting their output, income and living standards. So environmental degradation not only affects us but will also have repercussions on our future generations.

Thus industrial processes for the economic development play a major role in the degradation of the global environment. In developed countries, environmental regulation and new technologies are reducing the environmental impact, but industrial activities and growing demand are still putting pressures on the environment and the natural resource base. In developing countries a double environmental effect is occurring: old environmental problems, such as deforestation and soil degradation, remain largely unsolved. At the same time, new problems linked to industrialisation are emerging, such as rising greenhouse gas emissions, air and water pollution, growing volumes of waste, desertification and chemicals pollution.

Since environment regulation tends to be weak in developing countries some of these countries have begun to specialize in pollution intensive manufacturing, particularly in products which have good export potential. However it is also extremely important for developing countries to achieve a high level of economic growth to mitigate their socio-economic problems. But the major challenge here is: how to ensure development by maintaining a balance between environment and development.

It is in this context that the need for Sustainable Development arises. All economic activities either affect or are affected by the natural environment. Thus development based on reckless use of the natural resources is bound to result in reduced productivity of our economic system affecting the quality of life of the future inhabitants of this planet. Sustainable development therefore creates a balance between the demands of economic development and the need for protection of our natural environment. It is basically concerned with economic development in an environmentally responsible manner, keeping in mind the needs of the future generations.

Environmental considerations and pollution control are a part of sustainable development and hence they are needed to be fully integrated in our socio economic policies and programmes. The considerations of achieving the highest level of economic growth at the cost of environmental degradation will result in long run retardation of growth. Thus while formulating a development policy, a balance needs to be maintained between the requirements of the present and the needs of the future generations. We should try to conserve resources, at least to the extent that the present level of development has depleted them. For this we must make efficient use of natural resources, and use non renewable resources economically while continuously trying to develop and use renewable resources. It should be kept in mind that sustainable development requires strong international commitment and cooperation because ecology and environment go beyond national and geographical boundaries.

Written By: Naila Azhar, MS Student from IESE, NUST


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