Sustainable Architecture: Home of BEER
| Created: Dec 1996 | Updated: 10 Aug 2002 | By Sam C M Hui ([email protected]) |
1.1 What is Sustainable Development?
"Sustainable development is development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generation to meet their own needs." -- World Commission on Environment and Development, Our Common Future, pp. 4, Oxford University Press, New York, 1987. This definition has been formulated by the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), led by the Norwegian prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, in 1987.
The word development in this definition implicates two important aspects of the concept: It is omni disciplinary, it cannot be limited to a number of disciplines or areas, but it is applicable to the whole world and everyone and everything on it, now and in the future. Secondly, there is no set aim, but the continuation of development is the aim of the development. The definition is based on two concepts:
• the concept of needs, comprising of the conditions for maintaining an acceptable life standard for all people, and
• the concept of limits of the capacity of the environment to fulfill the needs of the present and the future, determined by the state of technology and social organisation.
The needs consist firstly of basic needs such as food, clothing, housing and employment. Secondly, every individual, in every part of the world should have the opportunity to try and raise his or her life standard above this absolute minimum. The limits consist of natural limitations like finite resources, but also of declining productivity caused by overexploitation of resources, declining quality of water and shrinking of biodiversity. For our common future, it would therefore be best if needs are best fulfilled while limits are not increased, but preferably decreased. This would lead to the quite simple conclusion that all political, technical and social developments can easily be evaluated in the light of sustainable development by these two arguments. Any development should help fulfill needs and should not increase limitations.