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Portal:Sustainable development

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The sustainable development portal

Wind powers 5 MW wind turbines on a wind farm 28 km off the coast of Belgium.

Sustainable development is the organizing principle for meeting human development goals while at the same time 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 use continue to meet human needs without undermining the integrity and stability of the natural system. Sustainable development can be classified 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).

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A solar cell, made from a monocrystalline silicon wafer.
Appropriate technology is technology that is appropriate to the environmental, cultural and economic situation it is intended for. An appropriate technology, in this sense, typically requires fewer resources, which means lower cost and less impact on the environment.

Proponents use the term to describe technologies which they consider to be suitable for use in developing nations or underdeveloped rural areas of industrialized nations, which they feel cannot operate and maintain high technology. Appropriate Technology usually prefers labor-intensive solutions over capital-intensive ones, although labor-saving devices are also used where this does not mean high capital or maintenance cost.

What exactly constitutes appropriate technology in any given case is a matter of debate, but generally the term is used by theorists to question high technology or what they consider to be excessive mechanization, human displacement, resource depletion or increased pollution associated with unchecked industrialisation. The term has often, though not always, been applied to the situations of developing nations or underdeveloped rural areas of industrialized nations.

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The Foundation for International Community Assistance (FINCA International) is a non-profit, microfinance organization, founded by John Hatch in 1984. Sometimes referred to as the "World Bank for the Poor" and a "poverty vaccine for the planet," FINCA is the innovator of the village banking methodology in microcredit and is widely regarded as one of the pioneers of modern day microfinance. With its headquarters in Washington, DC, FINCA has 21 affiliated host-country institutions (affiliates), in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. Along with Grameen Bank and Accion International, FINCA is considered to be one of the most influential microfinance organizations in the world.

Pioneered by FINCA, village banking is arguably the world’s most widely-imitated microfinance methodology. A village bank is an informal self-help support group of 20-30 members, predominantly female heads-of-household. Among US-based non-profit agencies alone there are at least 31 microfinance institutions (MFIs) that have collectively created over 400 village banking programs in at least 90 countries. And in many of these countries there are host-country MFIs—sometimes dozens—that are village banking practitioners as well.

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Jeffrey Sachs
Jeffrey David Sachs (born November 5, 1954, in Detroit, Michigan) is an American economist known for his work as an economic advisor to governments in Latin America, Eastern Europe, the former Yugoslavia, the former Soviet Union, Asia, and Africa. He is currently a professor and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. He is also Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. From 2002 to 2006, he was Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Director of the UN Millennium Project. He proposed shock therapy (though he himself hates the term) as a solution to the economic crises of Bolivia, Poland, and Russia. He is also known for his work with international agencies on problems of poverty reduction, debt cancellation, and disease control—especially HIV/AIDS, for the developing world. He is the only academic to have been repeatedly ranked among the world's most influential people by Time magazine. He has been appointed the 2007 lecturer for the BBC Reith Lectures.

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Did you know...

Fremantle Markets

  • ...that the Fruit and Vegetable Hall at the Fremantle Markets (pictured) was rebuilt using recycled materials following a fire in 1992?
  • ...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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Jeffrey Sachs
The end of extreme poverty is at hand, within our generation, but only if we grasp the historic opportunity in front of us.

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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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