Portal:Sustainable development/Selected article

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Portal:Sustainable development/Selected article/1

Earth flag, the symbol of World Earth Day

Sustainability is an attempt to provide the best outcomes for the human and natural environments both now and into the indefinite future. One of the most often cited definitions of sustainability is the one created by the Brundtland Commission, led by the former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland. The Brundtland Commission defined sustainable development as development that "meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." Sustainability relates to the continuity of economic, social, institutional and environmental aspects of human society, as well as the non-human environment.

Many people have pointed to various practices and philosophies in the world today as being useful to sustainability. In order to distinguish which activities are destructive and which are benign or beneficial, various models of resource use have been developed.

Sustainability can be defined both qualitatively in words, and quantitatively as a pair of compound exponentials - the rising one being the life of a system, the declining one leading to death if the final tipping point for intervention is irreversibly past.


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The Malian peanut sheller in Uganda, 2005.

International development is a concept that lacks a universally accepted definition, but it is most used in a holistic and multi-disciplinary context of human development - the development of livelihoods and greater quality of life for humans. It therefore encompasses governance, healthcare, education, disaster preparedness, infrastructure, economics, human rights, environment and issues associated with these.

International development is by definition a process undertaken by countries and communities with assistance from other nations' governments and communities, from international Non-Governmental Organisations (such as charities) or from intergovernmental organisations (such as the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank). As such it is distinct from development which would take place anyway, without international involvement.

International development is also distinct from, though conceptually related to, disaster relief and humanitarian aid. While these two forms of international support seek to alleviate some of the problems associated with a lack of development, they are most often short term fixes - they are not necessarily sustainable solutions.


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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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World map indicating Human Development Index (2007).

The Human Development Index (HDI) is a comparative measure of life expectancy, literacy, education, and standard of living for countries worldwide. It is a standard means of measuring well-being, especially child welfare. It is used to determine and indicate whether a country is a developed, developing, or underdeveloped country and also to measure the impact of economic policies on quality of life. The index was developed in 1990 by Indian Nobel prize winner Amartya Sen, Pakistani economist Mahbub ul Haq, with help from Gustav Ranis of Yale University and Lord Meghnad Desai of the London School of Economics and has been used since then by the United Nations Development Programme in its annual Human Development Report.

The HDI measures the average achievements in a country in three basic dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, as measured by life expectancy at birth; knowledge, as measured by the adult literacy rate (with two-thirds weight) and the combined primary, secondary, and tertiary gross enrollment ratio (with one-third weight); and a decent standard of living, as measured by the log of gross domestic product (GDP) per capita at purchasing power parity (PPP) in USD.


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Worldwide installed capacity and prediction 1997-2010.

Energy development is the ongoing effort to provide sustainable energy resources through knowledge, skills, and constructions. When harnessing energy from primary energy sources and converting them into more convenient secondary energy forms, such as electrical energy and cleaner fuel, both emissions (reducing pollution) and quality (more efficient use) are important.

Increased levels of human comfort generally induce increased dependence on external energy sources. Conversely, comfort can also be realized with lowered energy consumption by the application of energy efficiency and conservation approaches. Wise energy use therefore embodies the idea of balancing human comfort with reasonable energy consumption levels by researching and implementing effective and sustainable energy harvesting and utilization measures.

Use of any given energy source in human societies encounters limits to quantitative expansion. At the beginning of the 21st century some issues have achieved global dimension. Principal fossil energy sources, such as oil and natural gas are approaching production declines that may occur within the span of a generation (see Hubbert peak hypothesis). Closely linked to energy development are concerns about the environmental effects of energy use, such as climate changes. Energy development issues are part of the much debated sustainable development problem.


Portal:Sustainable development/Selected article/6 Poverty is a condition in which a person or community is deprived of, and or lacks the essentials for a minimum standard of well-being and life. Since poverty is understood in many senses, these essentials may be material resources such as food, safe drinking water, and shelter, or they may be social resources such as access to information, education, health care, social status, political power, or the opportunity to develop meaningful connections with other people in society.

Poverty may also be defined in relative terms. In this view income disparities or wealth disparities are seen as an indicator of poverty and the condition of poverty is linked to questions of scarcity and distribution of resources and power. Poverty may be defined by a government or organization for legal purposes, see poverty threshold.

Poverty may be seen as the collective condition of poor people, or of poor groups, and in this sense entire nation-states are sometimes regarded as poor. A more neutral term is developing nations. Although the most severe poverty is in the developing world, there is evidence of poverty in every region. In developed countries examples include homeless people and ghettos.


Portal:Sustainable development/Selected article/7

Porch of a modern timber framed home.

Natural building involves a range of building systems and materials that place major emphasis on sustainability. Ways of achieving sustainability through natural building focus on durability and the use of minimally processed, plentiful or renewable resources, as well as those which, while recycled or salvaged, produce healthy living environments and maintain indoor air quality. "Natural building" is a general term with different interpretations by its – mostly – self-directed practitioners.

The basis of natural building is the need to lessen the environmental impact of buildings and other supporting systems, without sacrificing comfort, health or aesthetics. To be more sustainable, natural building uses primarily materials which are abundantly available, renewable, reused or recycled. The use of rapidly renewable materials is increasingly a focus. An emphasis on building compactly and minimizing the ecological footprint is common, as are on-site handling of energy acquisition, on-site water capture, alternate sewage treatment and water reuse.

Other concepts, methods and strategies often (or sometimes) associated with natural building include: building "underground," earth sheltering, or berming, "green" or "living" planted roofs, thatched roofs and cement-free earthen floors, rubble-trench, or gabion foundations.


Portal:Sustainable development/Selected article/8

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.


Portal:Sustainable development/Selected article/9

The latest prototype of the device, named the XO-1.

The XO-1, previously known as the $100 Laptop or Children's Machine, is a proposed inexpensive laptop computer intended to be distributed to children around the world, especially to those in developing countries, to provide them with access to knowledge and modern forms of education. The laptop is being developed by the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) trade association. OLPC is a U.S. based, non-profit organization created by faculty members of the MIT Media Lab to design, manufacture, and distribute the laptops.

The rugged and low-power computers will contain flash memory instead of a hard drive and will use Linux as their operating system. Mobile ad hoc networking will be used to allow many machines Internet access from one connection.

The laptops will be sold to governments and issued to children by schools on a basis of one laptop per child. Quanta Computer, the project's contract manufacturer, indicated seven nations have committed to buy the XO-1 for their schoolchildren, including Argentina, Brazil, Libya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Thailand and Uruguay. OLPC has stated a consumer version of the XO laptop is not planned. However, Quanta will be offering machines very similar to the XO machine on the open market.


Portal:Sustainable development/Selected article/10

The waste hierarchy.

Waste management is the collection, transport, processing, recycling or disposal of waste materials, usually ones produced by human activity, in an effort to reduce their effect on human health or local aesthetics or amenity. A subfocus in recent decades has been to reduce waste materials' effect on the natural world and the environment and to recover resources from them. Waste management can involve solid, liquid or gaseous substances with different methods and fields of expertise for each.

Waste management practices differ for developed and developing nations, for urban and rural areas, and for residential, industrial, and commercial producers. Waste management for non-hazardous residential and institutional waste in metropolitan areas is usually the responsibility of local government authorities, while management for non-hazardous commercial and industrial waste is usually the responsibility of the generator.

The waste hierarchy refers to the "3 Rs" reduce, reuse and recycle, which classify waste management strategies according to their desirability. It has remained the cornerstone of most waste minimisation strategies.


Portal:Sustainable development/Selected article/11

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.


Portal:Sustainable development/Selected article/12 Fair trade is an organized social movement and market-based approach to alleviating global poverty and promoting sustainability. The movement promotes the payment of a fair price as well as social and environmental standards in areas related to the production of a wide variety of goods. It focuses in particular on exports from developing countries to developed countries, most notably handicrafts, coffee, cocoa, sugar, tea, bananas, honey, cotton, wine, fresh fruit, and so on.

Fair trade's strategic intent is to deliberately work with marginalised producers and workers in order to help them move from a position of vulnerability to security and economic self-sufficiency. It also aims at empowering them to become stakeholders in their own organizations and actively play a wider role in the global arena to achieve greater equity in international trade.

Fair trade proponents include a wide array of international religious, development aid, social and environmental organizations such as Oxfam, Amnesty International, and Caritas International.


Portal:Sustainable development/Selected article/13 Biofuelsliquid fuels derived from plant materials – are entering the market, driven by factors such as oil price spikes and the need for increased energy security. However, many of the biofuels that are currently being supplied have been criticised for their adverse impacts on the natural environment, food security, and land use. The challenge is to support biofuel development, including the development of new cellulosic technologies, with responsible policies and economic instruments to help ensure that biofuel commercialization is sustainable. Responsible commercialization of biofuels represents an opportunity to enhance sustainable economic prospects in Africa, Latin America and Asia.

Biofuels offer the prospect of increased market competition and oil price moderation. A healthy supply of alternative energy sources will help to combat gasoline price spikes and reduce dependency on fossil fuels, especially in the transport sector. Using transportation fuels more efficiently is also an integral part of a sustainable transport strategy.


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Nominations[edit]

Feel free to add featured, top or high importance articles about Sustainable development to the above list. Other Sustainable development-related articles may be nominated here.

I would like to nominate Renewable energy commercialization, which is a GA now... thanks, Johnfos 02:47, 26 September 2007 (UTC)
I agree and added it. RichardF 14:51, 26 September 2007 (UTC)