Urban, Rural, And Regional Planning Towards Sustainable Development for Our Common Future

photo of leaves on brown clay vase

I have always thought that ‘environment’ and ‘development’ are words that do not only rhyme, but also are INSEPARABLE in various contexts – weighing in both negative and positive poles; seen and encountered by people in different lenses, especially those that are coming from underdeveloped, developing and highly industrialized nations. Writing this integrated synthesis paper gave me the opportunity to put forth my stand on the proposition that these much-developed countries are already less dependent to agriculture.

Flipping through the pages of the Brundtland Commission Report in 1987, entitled Our Common Future made me realize that the world had been addressing this creeping problem more that three decades already, yet we are still just hovering around, witnessing our world progress, but is slowly dying inside. Let me highlight some of the takeaways I had while reading the text.

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The environment does not exist as a sphere separate from human actions, ambitions, and needs, and attempts to defend it in isolation from human concerns have given the very word “environment” a connotation of naivety in some political circles. 

Brundtland, 1987

Whatever the face of the world we are living today, these are all consequences of our bad and good actions. It is important to note that thousands of years ago, it has been believed that human activities are the strongest environmental forces this planet has known. Humans have altered the world and the effects are evident, it circularized in all corners. Discovery and invention have become the two elements that governed societal progress – yet, each progress will always be at the expense of the environment. An environmental change do not only occur in isolation, it can go up to the atmosphere, be blown by the wind elsewhere, seep into the deepest grounds, and as we focus on improving our world, in our lens, in our own perception on what improvement is, it’s too late already that we realized that we are not creating a new world, we may be beautifying it, but we are killing it inside.

But the “environment” is where we all live; and “development” is what we all do in attempting to improve our lot within that abode. Many of the development paths of the industrialized nations are clearly unsustainable. And the development decisions of these countries, because of their great economic and political power, will have a profound effect upon the ability of all peoples to sustain human progress for generations to come.

Brundtland, 1987

Paradoxically, highly urbanized nations are less dependent to agriculture when the products they use in boosting their economy are actually raw materials coming from nature. But these developed countries have powerful and wise leaders who anchored their leadership principles to conflict theory. Accordingly, social stratification benefits the rich and powerful at the expense of the poor. Thus, it creates a system of winners and losers. Developed nations provide sponsorship and grants to farmers in underdeveloped countries, deceiving of improving those countries’ exports, wherein the benefits pour down back to highly urbanized areas in the world, paving more to high-tech infrastructure, causing more intimidations and boosting more superiority.

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These developed nations were the ones who set the standards on what development is by describing their economic status, by providing parameters that only measure how superior they are than others. However, these projected developments are actually facades on how poor they are in terms of biodiversity, in terms of being self-regulated nations, fueled by the harvests of rich agricultural lands. These unsustainable approaches of developed nations that are being looked up by underdeveloped countries are causing detrimental effects to the environment and political leaders are blinded by all these predicaments.

Progress indeed is what all nations aspire to achieve, but this does not need to happen by becoming parasites of our own nature – our sources for survival. Thus, the report emphasizes the call for us to be in harmony of protecting the source of our life. It lays down all the though-providing statements for us to realize that we need to see the Earth as an organism whose health depends on the health of all its parts and each human being is called upon to take his share of protecting the world.

Our Common Future, is not a prediction of ever-increasing environmental decay, poverty, and hardship in an ever more polluted world among ever decreasing resources. We see instead the possibility for a new era of economic growth, one that must be based on policies that sustain and expand the environmental resource base. And we believe such growth to be absolutely essential to relieve the great poverty that is deepening in much of the developing world. Unless we are able to translate our words into a language that can reach the minds and hearts of people young and old, we shall not be able to undertake the extensive social changes needed to correct the course of development.

How can such development serve next century’s world of twice as many people relying on the same environment? This realization broadened our view of development. We came to see it not in its restricted context of economic growth in developing countries. We came to see that a new development path was required, one that sustained human progress not just in a few pieces for a few years, but for the entire planet into the distant future.

We are not forecasting a future; we are serving a notice – an urgent notice based on the latest and best scientific evidence – that the time has come to take the decisions needed to secure the resources to sustain this and coming generations. We do not offer a detailed blueprint for action, but instead a pathway by which the peoples of the world may enlarge their spheres of cooperation.

Let’s not wait for the world to reach a condition beyond reasonable hope of repair.

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