Portal:Sustainable development

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The sustainable development portal

Environment Equitable Sustainable Bearable (Social ecology) Viable (Environmental economics) Economic SocialSustainable development.svg
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Scheme of sustainable development:
at the confluence of three preoccupations. Clickable.

Sustainable development has been defined as balancing the fulfillment of human needs with the protection of the natural environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but in the indefinite future. The term was used by the Brundtland Commission which coined what has become the most often-quoted definition of sustainable development as development that "meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

The field of sustainable development can be conceptually divided into four general dimensions: social, economic, environmental and institutional. The first three dimensions address key principles of sustainability, while the final dimension addresses key institutional policy and capacity issues.

More about sustainable development and sustainability...

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National GDP per capita ranges from wealthier states in the north and south to poorer states in the east.
The economy of Africa consists of the trade, industry, and resources of the peoples of Africa. As of July 2005, approximately 887 million people were living in 54 different states. Africa is by far the world's poorest inhabited continent, and it is, on average, poorer than it was 25 years ago. Of the 175 countries reviewed in the United Nations' Human Development Report 2003, 25 African nations ranked lowest.

Africa's current poverty is rooted, in part, in its history. The transition from colonialism has been shaky and uncertain. Since mid-20th century the Cold War and increased corruption and despotism have contributed to Africa's poor economy. While China and India have grown rapidly and Latin America has experienced moderate growth, lifting millions above subsistence living, Africa has stagnated and even regressed in terms of foreign trade, investment, and per capita income. This poverty has widespread effects, including low life expectancy, violence, and instability, which in turn perpetuate the continent's poverty. Over the decades, attempts to improve the economy of Africa have met with little success.

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SeaWiFS Global Biosphere September 1997 - August 1998
Credit: NASA

The biosphere is the outermost part of the planet's shell — including air, land, surface rocks, and water — within which life occurs, and which biotic processes in turn alter or transform.

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An eco-house at Findhorn with turf roof and solar panels.
Findhorn Ecovillage is based at The Park, in Moray, Scotland near the village of Findhorn. The project's main aim is to demonstrate a sustainable development in environmental, social, and economic terms. Work began in the early 1980s under the auspices of the Findhorn Foundation but now includes a wide diversity of organisations and activities. Numerous different ecological techniques are in use, and the project has won a variety of awards, including the UN-Habitat Best Practice Designation in 1998. A recent independent study concludes that the residents have the lowest ecological footprint of any community measured so far in the industrialised world. Although the project has attracted some controversy, especially regarding the spiritual origins of the community, the growing profile of environmental issues such as climate change has led to a degree of mainstream acceptance of its ecological ethos.

The October 1982 Conference ‘Building a Planetary Village’ hosted by the Findhorn Foundation marked the beginning of serious attempts by the intentional community, which had existed at Findhorn since 1962 to demonstrate a human settlement that could be considered sustainable in environmental, social, and economic terms. The term, ecovillage, later came to be used to describe such experiments.

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Dr. John Keith Hatch (born November 7, 1940) is an American economic development expert and a pioneer in modern day microfinance. He is the founder of FINCA International and the Rural Development Services (RDS), and is famous for innovating village banking, arguably the world’s most widely-imitated microfinance methodology.

Founded in 1984, FINCA's purpose was to provide the poorest families, particularly those headed by single-mothers, with loans to finance self-employment activities capable of generating additional household income. FINCA currently operates village banking programs in 21 countries and since 1984 it has assisted over 700,000 families, lending over $340 million (in 2005) to the world's poorest families with a repayment rate of 97%, while also generating enough income to completely cover the operating costs of the field programs themselves.

Moreover, FINCA's methods have been imitated by at least 40 other nonprofit agencies, that have launched an additional 105 village banking programs that have collectively reached another 2 million families worldwide.

Current events

Did you know...

The water cycle

  • ...that in 2001, about 1.1 billion people had extreme poverty consumption levels below $1 a day and 2.7 billion lived on less than $2 a day?

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The prosperity we have known up to the present is the consequence of rapidly spending the planet's irreplaceable capital.

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Related portals

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

Sustainable development

Development: Development studies • Economic development • Energy development • Fair trade • Human Development Index • Informal economy • Information and communication technologies for development • International development • Least developed countries • Make Poverty History • Microfinance • Multilateral development banks • Poverty • World Bank Group

Sustainability: Anaerobic digestion • Appropriate technology • Biodegradable plastic • Carbon negative fuel • Ecological economics • Ecological modernization  • Economics of biodiversity • Ecovillage • Energy conservation • Environmental design • Energy development • Environmental technology • Environmental law • Low-carbon economy • Permaculture • Population  • Recycling • Renewable energy • Social sustainability • Sustainable agriculture • Sustainable city • Sustainable design  • Sustainable tourism  • Sustainable transport  • Waste management • Water

Human/World Population: Human overpopulation • Optimum population • Overshoot (ecology) • Population ageing • Population density • Population pyramid  • Tragedy of the commons  

List of countries by population:  List of countries by population growth rate • List of countries by population density • List of sovereign states and dependent territories by birth rate

Enercon E-66 wind energy converter in Egeln/Germany.