Sustainable development. Survival – progress – save. Looking to the future through the prism of the past
Material posted: Publication date: 20-03-2013

During the Conference on sustainable development, it is prudent to analyse the concept of sustainable development and the steps for its implementation. The concept of sustainable development has its own history, tradition and prospects of continuation of this policy in the future.


1. The origins of the concept of sustainable development. The UNESCO programme "Education for sustainable development"

The realization of sustainable development as a triune formula, based on economic, environmental and social aspects have occurred more in the 1970s and was reflected in the report of the club of Rome "Limits to growth" (1972), the Declaration of the First UN conference on the environment (Stockholm, 1972), the report "world strategy of nature protection" (1980). These documents have become an essential starting point of the whole concept of sustainable development.

The widespread use of the term "sustainable development" are noted after the report of the world Commission on environment and development in 1987, in which the English translated term sustainable development as "sustainable development". In the framework of the Conference on sustainable development uses the term, cited in the report "Our common future": "Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present, but does not compromise the ability of future generations to meet their own needs"[1].

For future generations the importance of sustainable development is undeniable because of the need of search mechanisms reasonable needs in terms of exhaustion of resources at the planetary scale. By the end of the twentieth century, there is a need to resolve the problems of the environment, economic well-being of countries, as well as achieving and maintaining a high level of social development. By the early twenty-first century, these trends have only intensified. It took a fundamental change in the model of human development and the way of life of each person. At the turn of the century was the transformation of civilization that contributed to preserving and advancing the resources to search for new ways of development (high tech), progress in social development (new wave create organizations for the protection of the environment – Greenpeace (Greenpeace) (1971), "Green Cross" (1994)). These measures have played a positive role for the survival, development and peace within the concept of sustainable development.

At this stage, enhanced the role of institutions of education UNESCO as the unifying link in the chain of implementation long-term vision of sustainable development. Additional reference point for the concept of sustainable development became the UNESCO programme "Education for sustainable development" and "Development of skills in sustainable development", which successfully combines the priorities of UNESCO, Millennium Goals and principles the concept of sustainable development.

Proposed UNESCO initiatives involve "the systematic integration of education for sustainable development (ESD) into all levels and objects of education and training – from early childhood education to higher education and workplace learning"[2]. In turn, the "system of Raising the level of development and sustainability of technical and vocational education and training (top) helps to produce skilled workers with knowledge in the field of sustainable development and the pursuit of it, as well as the necessary practical skills".

Thus, sustainable development is a long – term global development, including economic, social and environmental development. The essence of sustainable development lies in the fact that the present generation used the necessary resources to meet their needs without compromising future generations. The emphasis is on future generations in order to underline the global nature of the interests and perspectives of world development.


2. From "Rio-92" to "Rio+20": the Tradition of holding conferences on sustainable development.

In 1992 in Rio de Janeiro held a Conference on United Nations environment and development – UNCED (United Nations Conference on Environment and Development - UNCED), the agenda of which included the issues of sustainable development and strengthen the three components of this process and their complementary nature.

The Conference adopted the Rio de Janeiro Declaration on environment and development, which were set forth the fundamental principles, key among which is the care of the people, expressed in the green economy and poverty eradication.

The Declaration reaffirms the commitment of the international consensus in addressing transboundary environmental issues, in creating a "supportive and open international economic system"[3] and the maintenance of free international trade.

Important is the need to increase state responsibility for implementing the right to development for present and future generations. This is done through the development of both national and international laws regarding the "liability and compensation for the victims of pollution and other environmental damage"[4]. Thus, there is an expansion of the institutional framework for sustainable development.

The Declaration notes the importance of joint scientific and technological activities in order to strengthen the national capacity for sustainable development, and the need to raise awareness to attract attention and potential new stakeholders to environmental issues for the formation of a global partnership. Emphasized the key role of interstate cooperation, which is manifested in the format of consultation, notification, exchange of information.

A basic tenet of the Declaration of "Peace, development and environmental protection are interdependent and indivisible"[5] is reflected in the activities of States and peoples at the present stage in the field of sustainable development.

The main milestones in the history of conferences on sustainable development are:

  • 1992 (the UN Conference on environment and development, "Rio-92", Rio de Janeiro);

  • 1997 (Special session of the General Assembly of the United Nations "Rio+5", new York);

  • 2002 (the world summit on sustainable development (WSSD), "Rio+10", Johannesburg).

During a series of summit meetings raised concerns the reorientation of international trade in favour of sustainable development, protection of the environment. The consequence has been the strengthening of the environmental component in the discourse of the Conference and strengthened its relationship with economic and social factors, as evidenced by the relationship between multilateral environmental agreements and the WTO, and the liberalization of trade in environmental goods and services.

One of the solutions summit 1992 was the formulation of the global action plan of humankind for sustainable development - Agenda for XXI century[6], which looked at the social and economic aspects, the role of major groups and means of implementation of sustainable development concept.

The relevance of the issues raised in 1992, and remains twenty years after the first summit. That is why in 2009 the UN General Assembly adopted the decision to hold the summit "Rio+20" to address the problems of sustainable development in the XXI century.

In January 2012, UN Secretary-General ban Ki-moon stated: "Environmental, economic and social indicators suggests that the current model of progress is unsustainable. Climate change hampers our path to sustainability. We live in a world of looming challenges and increasingly limited resources. Sustainable development is an opportunity to correct our course". In other words, the summit in Brasilia in 2012 as the next necessary step towards the implementation of sustainable development principles.

20-22 June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, the Conference "Rio+20", which was attended by over 100 heads of state. Participants focused on two thematic clusters: (a) green economy in the context of sustainable development poverty eradication; and (b) institutional framework for sustainable development. On the agenda of the meetings of the Conference included the following issues:

  1. "Review of the implementation of commitments;

  2. New problems;

  3. The green economy in the context of poverty eradication and sustainable development;

  4. Institutional framework for sustainable development"[7]

Priority was given to seven areas: providing employment, energy development, sustainable urban development, sustainable agriculture and food security, the protection of water resources and disaster prevention.

At the present stage in the context of globalization processes, it is evident the interconnectedness of economic, environmental and social factors in society. Occurred in the past twenty years changes in the international architecture has formed the need to review, update and search for new ways of sustainable development. However, there is a need to sum up intermediate results, the analysis of successes achieved and identify weaknesses in strategy and tactics on the way to sustainable development. It should be emphasized that the distinguishing feature of this process in the XXI century began active development of the processes of globalization in General and international trade in particular.

Thus, the concept of the Conference "Rio+20" is based on the movement towards progress based on the experience of previous generations. At the meeting in Rio de Janeiro were considered solutions to complex interrelated problems of an economic, environmental and social nature. The urgency of this special meeting was given to the international context – the necessity of reconsidering the international trading system and reforming the major international financial and economic organizations (WTO), the rapid growth of developing States.

The conference in Rio de Janeiro has become a catalyst for positive change – awareness of world architecture and current trends, identifying current and potential threats of the crisis and ways to resolve them, as well as the formulation of practical recommendations and the adoption of strategies for sustainable development for future generations.


The list of references

  1. Our common future. The report of the world Commission on environment and development / TRANS. s angl.; Ed. and afterw. Evteev, S. A. and R. A. of Flights. M.: Progress, 1989.
  2. "Education for sustainable development + Technical and vocational education and training. The development of skills in sustainable development". UNESCO, 2012
  3. Rio de Janeiro Declaration on environment and development. Adopted by the United Nations conference on environment and development, Rio de Janeiro, 3-14 June 1992. Principle 12.
  4. Rio de Janeiro Declaration on environment and development. Adopted by the United Nations conference on environment and development, Rio de Janeiro, 3-14 June 1992. Principle 13.
  5. Rio de Janeiro Declaration on environment and development. Adopted by the United Nations conference on environment and development, Rio de Janeiro, 3-14 June 1992. Principle 25.
  6. Agenda for the twenty-first century. Adopted by the United Nations conference on environment and development, Rio de Janeiro, 3-14 June 1992, Official website of the United Nations.
  7. The Rio +20 Conference United Nations conference on sustainable development. NP "ITF" Russian national Committee support Program of the UN environment programme. Russian National Committee for UNEP.

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