How Can We Achieve Sustainability?: Lessons from Developed Countries

How Can We Achieve Sustainability?: Lessons from Developed Countries

Doaa Salman (Modern Sciences and Arts University (MSA), Egypt), Farah Tarkhan (Modern Sciences and Arts University (MSA), Egypt), Nada Mohamed (Modern Sciences and Arts University (MSA), Egypt), Alia Farouk (Modern Sciences and Arts University (MSA), Egypt) and Donia Kamal (Modern Sciences and Arts University (MSA), Egypt)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6635-1.ch012


The importance of adopting sustainable development is facing many challenges that affect political decisions and social changes. Many countries are facing the conflict between the development of businesses and economic growth and saving the environment. Unfortunately, sometimes people choose to neglect the environment and consequently harm themselves in an indirect way. Some countries take certain measures to fight pollution and global warming and to achieve sustainable development. Such measures can be seen in their policies. For example, Switzerland, Sweden, and Japan have imposed environmental policies that target better resource management. This chapter discusses the cases of the successful resource management systems making them a role model for other countries to target achieving sustainable development.
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Discovering whether the wellbeing of future generations is lower than the current requires better allocation of resources over time. And to determine the preferences of the future generations and all of these are impossible. But in 1977, John Hartwick demonstrated that a constant level of consumption could be maintained perpetually from an environmental endowment if all the scarcity rent derived from resources extracted from the endowment were invested in the capital. This level of investment would be sufficient to assure that the values of total capital stock don’t decline.

Environmental sustainability requires maintaining certain physical flows of certain individual resources. This can’t be achieved without implementing the environmental policy, because not all efficient allocations are sustainable and not all sustainable allocations are efficient. Then, policy changes can produce win-win situations because it helps in correcting the inefficiency and increase the net benefits.

In 1980, Allen R. defines sustainability as “Sustainable utilization is a simple idea: we should utilize species and ecosystems at levels and in ways that allow them to go on renewing themselves for all practical purposes indefinitely.” This means that is important to guarantee that people protect those parts of the biosphere and adapt the rest only in ways that it can sustain.

Sustainable development was put on political agendas in 1987 by Our Common Future, often referred to as The Brundtland Report after the chair of the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) which wrote it.

‘Environment and development are not separate challenges: they are inexorably linked. Development cannot subsist on a deteriorating environmental base; the environment cannot be protected when growth leaves out of account the costs of environmental protection.’ (p. 37)

The report defines sustainable development as development that seeks to meet the needs and aspirations of the present without compromising the ability to meet those of the future (p. 43). The report states that: ‘Far from requiring the cessation of economic growth, it [sustainable development] recognizes that the problems of poverty and underdevelopment cannot be solved unless we have a new era of growth in which developing countries play a large role and reap large benefits’ (p. 40).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Mottainai: A Japanese term conveying regret for anything that is wasted.

Waste Management: A set of techniques to deal with generated waste from homes, factories and other facilities.

Land Filling: Storing waste above the ground.

Energy Transformation: Using waste materials to generate energy.

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