Sustainable Development in Economy

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Development is word that has been widely used to simply refer to the concept of rolling one surface over another which is much better than the first one in most aspects. On the other hand, sustainable development is the concept of putting into use all the resources available to anyone in order to meet ones needs, while at the same time preserving the environment so that its benefits can be enjoyed in the present as well as in the future (Escobar, p.59). If this concept of sustainable development is not followed to the latter, the developing worlds which are seeking to achieve long term development goals will stand high chances of being in jeopardy like what we are witnessing with most of the developed world. Most developed countries have their future generation faced with a wide degree of environmental pollution, particularly from the carbon emissions, simply because they ignored the sustainable strategy (Wroe et al, p.57). In the past, sustainability was not put into consideration as most countries sought the path to development, countries ignored to address environmental concerns leading to over bleeding of the environment. This essay paper will look at the concept of sustainable development; it will also give some highlights of the steps which are internationally being put in place to this effect. The paper will further give some of the examples of projects which have been established to achieve this sustainability development goal before giving recommendations on the path to be taken by economists (policy makers), the government (policy implementers), development partners (stakeholders) and the target groups (developing world).

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Sustainable Development

Sustainable development can be subdivided into three branches, i.e. Economic sustainability, Environmental sustainability and Socio-political sustainability (Wroe et al, pp.55-59). For a society to be self-sufficient in all of these three components of development, it has to be reinforced by respective pillars of development. Cultural diversity has been reported to be the most vital tool for humankind to achieve sustainable economic growth, moral values, emotional development and intellectual satisfaction. But most important of all is public participation, both in the decision making and in the running of development projects which is a prerequisite in achieving sustainable development. Sustainability alone according to (Stivers, pp.83-87), means a process of finding a compromise resolution between various human related competing goals in the pursuit of economic sustainability, social equity and environmental quality. This revelations holds it that development sustainability therefore, is not a destination, but a process to get to this final destination.

Another view of development concept is the green development, which refers to the prioritization of environmental sustainability concepts over cultural and economic considerations. But advocates of sustainable development argue that green development is unsustainable and does not offer solutions to achieving overall sustainability. They give an example of a cutting edge treatment plant which is costly to maintain and may never survive in countries with limited financial resources. Seeking sustainable development is the only way to steer developing countries to greater development heights which will not only be viable in the present but also to the future generation; pollution of any form reduces growth, be it in the water bodies, land air, name it. Achieving environmental sustainability means making sure that all the projects being run in any country interact well with the environment, that is to say, the resources which are made available by nature are used at a rate which can allow for their natural replenishment (Schuurman, pp.22-49).

Economic Development and Cultural Change

When referring to the term development, culture and identity takes a leading theme. These two issues when conclusively explored lead to the realization of the greater effects that they have in the economic and political development. It is through culture and identity by which individuals can confront the challenges presented by this global world. Reports indicate that in the beginning, there was no such thing like development, or global environment, or economic growth. In the beginning there was only culture, and in the long run hopefully, only culture will remain (Meadows et al, p.66). Under this concept of culture and development, sexuality of an individual and a person’s cultural inclination can be viewed as a positive sense of the community rather than a dangerous taboo to development…hence they will be used to enrich the realization of development goals. Incidences of racial conflicts and xenophobia that hinder implementation of development policies should be addressed to put a country in a good path of social and economic development.

Comparative International Development

International development has no definition that can be said to be universally acceptable, but in the world over, it has been used in a more sanctified and multi-disciplinary manner to give reference to human development which covers governance, gender equality, economics, environment, healthcare, foreign aid, infrastructure and human rights among others. International development projects within a country are those activities which are undertaken by communities or countries with the support of International organizations (NGO’s) and Intergovernmental Organizations like; the International Monetary Fund, United Nations or the World Bank (Daly, pp.48-49). These aid services seek to achiever a long term solution to a problem that is linked to lack of development in the countries where they are concerned. These international organizations are geared to helping the Third World Countries achieve a capacity to tackle development challenges that present themselves in form of huddles to the human development. For a project to be fully described as a sustainable development project, the project, upon its initiation, has to be able to proceed with achieving its objectives without any external support. Such projects may be those that are only meant to address a specific problem or a otherwise a series of projects run to address several aspects affecting the society (Allen, p.13).

The birth of development is reported to have come in the 20th Century mainly after the Second World War; this was attributed to the following three forces; the need to reconstruct the nation after the WW II disaster, the evolution of colonialism which led to globalization and free trade, and finally the attempts by the United States to prevent the developing nations from drifting into Communism at the onset of Cold War. The whole idea was to help countries shift from the historical system of imperialism and exploitation, and instead put more focus on human needs and capabilities (Daly, p.44).

New Internationalist

Economists have given divergent views on what level a country has to be before it is referred to as developed. This controversy has led to several proposals being put forward as measurement to human development. The following are what the economist, political leaders and the affected people themselves have settled on and unanimously agreed to be the chief factors to be considered when measuring development level of a country. The measurement indicators include, National GDP, Life Expectancy, Per Capita Income, Literacy Rates, Human Development Index, Maternal Survival Rate, Gini Coefficient and HIV Infection Rate. A criteria to achieve eco-efficiency in relation to economic impact has been identified in the world over by the players in this field (DeSimone, pp.52-61). This is the idea of delivering competitive goods and services that are able to satisfy human needs and bring quality to life, while at the same time minimizing any ensuing ecological impacts to a level that can be carried by the earth’s capacity. Slightly different though, is the concept of socio-efficiency, which is a kind of corporate sustainability. Socio-efficiency relates a firm’s economic value to its social impact. Most firms are said to be in the overall sense having negative impact to the environment, but such steps like tree planting are quiet a good show which tend to preserve the environment. To the society, the firms are a source of job creation which bring livelihood to the society. But on the other hand, it is in these work areas that we find incidences of human right abuses and work related accidents which are examples of social ills. A social-efficient sustainability ensures that negatives have been overshadowed by the positives for the benefit of everyone (Sachs, p.35).

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World Development

Efforts are required to achieve full scale development, this can be done through initiation, planning and execution of projects that are targeted to benefit the less advantaged in the society. The projects are believed to be able to empower these individuals so that they can be able to boost their social influence, thereby removing them from the ditch of cultural dependency. Most of these projects which are being run should be designed in such a way that it benefits individuals in the oral communities who are non-literate. It is good to identify a project that is viable enough in the setting and which the beneficiaries will be happy to identify themselves with. World development is dependent on the proper establishment and successful implementation of sustainable projects which will take care of social challenges, environmental problems and economic challenges. Such kinds of projects will only prove to be so if they are not dependant on infinite resources (Parfitt, p.65). The success of a sustainable project depend on the projects ability to survive on the resources that can be naturally provided, for instance, the project should not demand natural resources more than what the environment can provide, more financial demands than the financers can amass, and more importantly, it should receive complete support from the stakeholders, target groups, the community and the government. Such a full scale selfless support will be the key to international development.

Successful Sustainable Development Projects

Several projects have been carried world over to be self sufficient by different organizations and governments. But most of them have failed to live to this dream. However there are those other projects that have lived this dream of standing on there own without donor aids. They only utilized the support at the initiation point, after which, they managed to run on their own. Two examples of such projects are the Doi Tung SALD and the Guatemalan Projects. The Doi Tung was a project by the Mae Fah Foundation that was established with the recipient in mind. The people’s needs were analyzed before initiating the product. It was determined that it was poverty and limited of access to adequate information that was the root cause of numerous social evils, diseases and environmental degradation. So the project was established to specifically address these two problems. The project introduced alternative farming methods and substitute crops to what the people used to deal with. The people were so receptive and they were able to take the project at heart and run it themselves. In the long run, they abandoned all the criminal acts which they used to engage in since they had other more positive options to pursue to raise money. The people willingly participated in the project’s activities. In the end, SALD has managed to take the people out of their socio-economic dependency into self sufficiency while observing the environment at the same time.

Another project of the same nature is the Guatemalan project which had its chief objective to build sustainable communities free from economic ties and environmental bondage. Through the project, institutions have been established which are able to instill knowledge into individuals. These institutions teach leadership and management skills and on top of these, the student can come up with important innovations which they can apply in their day to day life to better their life. Education never goes stale, but instead with practice of what is learnt in class, the people will be able to face challenges confronting them with a lot of positivity. The community through participation has become part and parcel of the project…leading to harmony, peace, prosperity and independence among them. No doubt, the future generation stands high chances of reaping great benefits from the project. In the present, the project feeds the hungry, houses the landless and above all educates the illiterate among other numerous community activities (Utting, pp.13-16).


The paper has shown the numerous huddles that exist in an attempt to acquire self sufficiency…balancing environmental sustainability, economic sustainability and socio-political sustainability. But one thing should be clear here, it is not impossible to find a compromise point and forge a way forward. It is feasible to seek economic satisfaction while protecting the social and environmental interests. What is required is having a responsible and accountable governments, community and individuals who have the future at heart. Such stakeholders should not be self centered but need to have the spirit of collective responsibility.


This paper has clearly elaborated the meaning of sustainable development and what is required to achieve it. It has shown the importance of the need to take care of the environment in the pursuit of economic development so that the future generation will be able to draw equal benefits just like in the present. The paper also cautions against overstretching the earth’s resources. Sustainable development advocates against excessive usage of natural resources beyond the rate by which they are replicated. This concept however, was not wholly welcomed by everyone; it got its share of critics who claimed that sustainable development was one dangerous move and a practical impossibility. The critics added that it is impossible to carryout isolated actions with an intention of achieving sustainable development without eventually causing some adverse and perverse side effects both to the economy and the environment. They further stated that the responsibility of protecting the environment should not be left to private players alone, but the government should establish rules and regulations to guide this move (Utting, p.15). T hey believed that the improvement of the ecology depended on the market economy and the existing property rights; with these two, people will develop personal responsibility and therefore develop mechanisms to which will enable them to protect the environment.

From the facts emerging in this paper, it can also be concluded that sustainability would be the best way forward for the Third World and the already developed nations. But it seems as though it is not executable in the practical sense. In a world where 20% of the population has the ability of consuming more than 80% of earth’s total resources, an idea that consumption should not exceed production render the concept of sustainable development more oxymoron and illogical (Browne, p.50). Therefore the right term to be used when referring to the kind of development that is able to meet all the needs of the present generation and at the same time does not overuse the earth’s resources for the future generation would be “sustainable de-growth”.


Allen, T. and Thomas, A. (2000). Poverty and development into the 21st century. OUP. pp.12 14.

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Browne, S. (1990). Foreign aid in practice. New York: University Press. pp. 34-72.

Daly, H. E. (1973). Towards a Steady State Economy. San Francisco: Freeman. Daly, H. E. Steady-State Economics (2nd Ed.). Washington, D.C.: Island Press. pp.47-48.

DeSimone, L. & Popoff, F. (1997). Eco-efficiency: The business link to sustainable development. Cambridge: MIT Press. pp.52-61.

Dyllick, T. & Hockerts, K. (2002). Beyond the business case for corporate sustainability. Business Strategy and the Environment, 11(2): pp.130-141.

Escobar, A. (1995). Encountering development: the making and unmaking of the third world. Princeton. pp.47-133.

Meadows, D., Meadows, D. L., Randers, J., & Behrens, W. (1971). The Limits to Growth. New York: Universe Books. pp.66.

Parfitt, T. (2002). The end of development? Modernity, Post-Modernity and Development. Pluto press. pp.67-69.

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Sachs, W. (ed.) (1992). The Development Dictionary: a guide to knowledge as power, Zed Books. pp.31-37.

Schuurman, F.J. (1993). Beyond the impasse: new directions in development theory. Zed Books. pp.22-49.

Stivers, R. (1976). The Sustainable Society: Ethics and Economic Growth. Philadelphia: Westminster Press. pp.83-87.

Utting, P. Promoting Development through Corporate Social Responsibility-Does it Work? Global Future, Third Quarter 2003, Profit and Loss? Corporations and Development. London: World Vision International. pp.13-16.

Wroe, M and Doney, M. (2005). The rough guide to a better world. UK: Rough Guides Ltd. pp.55-59.

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