Our common future,

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Our Common Future, Chapter 2: Towards Sustainable Development
From A/42/427. Our Common Future: Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development


I. The Concept of Sustainable Development

II. Equity and the Common Interest

III. Strategic Imperatives

1. Reviving Growth
2. Changing the quality of Growth
3. MeetingEssential Human Needs
4. Ensuring a Sustainable Level of Population
5. Conserving and Enhancing the Resource Base
6. Reorienting Technology and Managing Risk
7. Merging Environment and Economics in Decision Making

IV. Conclusion

1. Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Itcontains within it two key concepts:
• the concept of 'needs', in particular the essential needs of the world's poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and
• the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment's ability to meet present and future needs.
2. Thus the goals of economic and social development must be defined in termsof sustainability in all countries - developed or developing, market-oriented or centrally planned. Interpretations will vary, but must share certain general features and must flow from a consensus on the basic concept of sustainable development and on a broad strategic framework for achieving it.
3. Development involves a progressive transformation of economy and society. A development paththat is sustainable in a physical sense could theoretically be pursued even in a rigid social and political setting. But physical sustainability cannot be secured unless development policies pay attention to such considerations as changes in access to resources and in the distribution of costs and benefits. Even the narrow notion of physical sustainability implies a concern for social equity betweengenerations, a concern that must logically be extended to equity within each generation.
I. The Concept of Sustainable Development
4 The satisfaction of human needs and aspirations in the major objective of development. The essential needs of vast numbers of people in developing countries for food, clothing, shelter, jobs - are not being met, and beyond their basic needs these people havelegitimate aspirations for an improved quality of life. A world in which poverty and inequity are endemic will always be prone to ecological and other crises. Sustainable development requires meeting the basic needs of all and extending to all the opportunity to satisfy their aspirations for a better life.
5. Living standards that go beyond the basic minimum are sustainable only if consumptionstandards everywhere have regard for long-term sustainability. Yet many of us live beyond the world's ecological means, for instance in our patterns of energy use. Perceived needs are socially and culturally determined, and sustainable development requires the promotion of values that encourage consumption standards that are within the bounds of the ecological possible and to which all can reasonablyaspire.
6. Meeting essential needs depends in part on achieving full growth potential, and sustainable development clearly requires economic growth in places where such needs are not being met. Elsewhere, it can be consistent with economic growth, provided the content of growth reflects the broad principles of sustainability and non-exploitation of others. But growth by itself is not enough. Highlevels of productive activity and widespread poverty can coexist, and can endanger the environment. Hence sustainable development requires that societies meet human needs both by increasing productive potential and by ensuring equitable opportunities for all.
7. An expansion in numbers can increase the pressure on resources and slow the rise in living standards in areas where deprivation is...
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