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Portal:Sustainable development

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The sustainable development portal

Sustainable development is the organizing principle for meeting human development goals while simultaneously sustaining the ability of natural systems to provide the natural resources and ecosystem services upon which the economy and society depend. The desired result is a state of society where living conditions and resource are use to continue to meet human needs without undermining the integrity and stability of the natural system. Sustainable development can be defined as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations.

While the modern concept of sustainable development is derived mostly from the 1987 Brundtland Report, it is also rooted in earlier ideas about sustainable forest management and twentieth century environmental concerns. As the concept developed, it has shifted to focus more on economic development, social development and environmental protection for future generations. It has been suggested that "the term 'sustainability' should be viewed as humanity's target goal of human-ecosystem equilibrium (homeostasis), while 'sustainable development' refers to the holistic approach and temporal processes that lead us to the end point of sustainability". Modern economies are endeavouring to reconcile ambitious economic development and obligations of preserving natural resources and ecosystems, as the two are usually seen as of conflicting nature. Instead of holding climate change commitments and other sustainability measures as a drug[vague] to economic development, turning and leveraging them into market opportunities will do greater good.[unbalanced opinion?] The economic development brought by such organized principles and practices in an economy is called Managed Sustainable Development (MSD).[attribution needed]

The concept of sustainable development has been,and still is,subject to criticism, including the question of what is to be sustained in sustainable development. It has been argued that there is no such thing as a sustainable use of a non-renewable resource, since any positive rate of exploitation will eventually lead to the exhaustion of earth's finite stock; this perspective renders the Industrial Revolution as a whole unsustainable. It has also been argued that the meaning of the concept has opportunistically been stretched from 'conservation management' to 'economic development', and that the Brundtland Report promoted nothing but a business as usual strategy for world development, with an ambiguous and insubstantial concept attached as a public relations slogan (see below).

Selected article

The wind, Sun and biomass are three renewable energy sources.
Renewable energy commercialization involves the diffusion of three generations of renewable energy technologies dating back more than 100 years. First-generation technologies, which are already mature and economically competitive, include biomass, hydroelectricity, geothermal power and heat. Second-generation technologies are market-ready and are being deployed at the present time; they include solar heating, photovoltaics, wind power, solar thermal power stations, and modern forms of bioenergy. Third-generation technologies require continued R&D efforts in order to make large contributions on a global scale and include advanced biomass gasification, biorefinery technologies, hot-dry-rock geothermal power, and ocean energy.

There are many non-technical barriers to the widespread use of renewables, and it is mainly public policy and political leadership that are driving the widespread acceptance of renewable energy technologies. Some 85 countries now have targets for their own renewable energy futures, and have enacted wide-ranging public policies to promote renewables. Climate change concerns are driving increasing growth in the renewable energy industries. Leading renewable energy companies include First Solar, Gamesa, GE Energy, Q-Cells, Sharp Solar, Siemens, SunOpta, Suntech, and Vestas.

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Flag of the United Nations
The UN Environment Programme (or UNEP) coordinates United Nations environmental activities, assisting developing countries in implementing environmentally sound policies and encourages sustainable development through sound environmental practices. It was founded as a result of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in December 1972 and is headquartered in Gigiri, Nairobi, Kenya. UNEP also has six regional offices and various country offices.

Its activities cover a wide range of issues regarding the atmosphere, marine and terrestrial ecosystems. It has played a significant role in developing international environmental conventions, promoting environmental science and information and illustrating the way those can work in conjunction with policy, working on the development and implementation of policy with national governments and regional institution and working in conjunction with environmental Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).

UNEP has been active in funding and implementing environmentally related development projects. UNEP has aided in the development of guidelines and treaties on issues such as the international trade in potentially harmful chemicals, transboundary air pollution, and contamination of international waterways.

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Dr. James E. Hansen
James E. Hansen (born March 29, 1941, in Denison, Iowa) heads the NASA Institute for Space Studies in New York City, a division of Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD, Earth Sciences Directorate. Dr. Hansen is an adjunct professor in the Earth and Environmental Sciences department at Columbia University. He is best known for his testimony on climate change to congressional committees in the 1980s that helped raise broad awareness of the global warming issue. He was a vocal critic of the George W. Bush administration's stance on climate change.

Hansen has focused on planetary research that involves trying to understand the climate change on earth that will result from anthropogenic changes of the atmospheric composition. One of his research interests is radiative transfer in planetary atmospheres, especially interpreting remote sounding of the earth's atmosphere and surface from satellites. Such data, appropriately analyzed, may provide one of the most effective ways to monitor and study global change on the earth. Dr. Hansen also is interested in the development and application of global numerical models for the purpose of understanding current climate trends and projecting humans' potential impacts on climate.

Current events

Did you know...

Mean surface temperature anomalies during the period 1995 to 2004 with respect to the average temperatures from 1940 to 1980.

  • ...that global warming (pictured) of the average air temperature rose 0.74 ± 0.18 °C (1.3 ± 0.32 °F) during the past century?

Selected quote

After years of work in Orangi I realised that I was then a solitary old man, but there was another blessing which I wrote about. A kind fate has not yet taken away from me, even in my dotage, the improvising ability of Robinson Crusoe and the benevolent fantasy of Don Quixote.
Akhtar Hameed Khan, Zameen magazine (October 1998)

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Related categories

Sustainable development
Development: Country classifications (Least Developed Countries) • Development charities • Development specialists • Development studies • Economic development (Informal economy, Microfinance, Poverty)  • Energy development • Fair trade • Foreign aid by country • Human Development Index • International development • Make Poverty History • Multilateral development banks • Rural community development • Supranational banks (World Bank) • Water supply and sanitation by country  United Nations Headquarters view from the East River.

Sustainability: Advocates • Alternative energy • Anaerobic digestion • Appropriate technology • Biodegradable plastics • Biofuels • Carbon diet • Economics of sustainability • Ecovillages • Energy conservation • Environmental design • Low-carbon economy • Permaculture • Recycling • Renewable energy • Sustainable agriculture • Sustainable technologies • Waste management • Water

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