The very word “development” implies growth, progress and betterment. In some quarters, however, it is equated with degradation, pollution and depletion. On the whole, development brings economic opportunities, jobs and investment. Who does not wish to see improvements in their quality of life? At the same time, like medicines formulated to kill infections, development can also have side effects that cause as many problems as development solves. Without careful planning and long-range vision, advancement can sow the seeds of its own demise in terms of environmental well-being, public health and economic prosperity. To think comprehensively about development with an eye on the long term is to put a priority on sustainability.
Food and Agriculture
International groups like the United Nations contend that the elimination of poverty must be a primary goal of global development. At its most cruel, poverty brings about starvation. To combat this prospect, development agencies seek to set up subsistence agriculture in needy areas. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization works to foster agricultural development in hunger-ridden sections of countries like Chad and Nigeria. Yet it maintains an eye on the future, and promotes sustainable farming in places like Uganda, where food shortages are not as severe. Growing crops and grains that yield higher volumes and incomes—with less damage to soil and ground water—is one such way that Ugandans practice sustainability.
Health and Medicine
Obtaining optimal nutrition is part and parcel of good health and long life. Yet development goes well beyond food provision. Locating hospitals and outpatient clinics in underserved areas; educating poor communities about hygiene and disease prevention; and making access to vital medicines and devices all work together to spur robust health and longevity. As the population improves in strength and fitness, the potential for thriving intellectually and economically is likewise enhanced. Again, though, there is a flip side to such investment: an increase in infectious medical waste and pharmaceutical toxins. Sustainability mandates that practitioners discover safer and cleaner ways of disposal. To this end, the Coalition for Sustainable Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices is cooperating with Johnson & Johnson—as well as the UK National Health Service—to review avenues of healthcare delivery and formulate more ecologically friendly procedures. mosses
Manufacturing and Mobility
Developing industry takes time, knowledge and a good deal of effort. Experts agree: it is worth it. Manufacturing and industry provide under-performing countries with the capacity to compete internationally. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, manufacturing jobs pay better; they reward innovation more consistently than service jobs; and they more frequently compensate employees for educational advancement. Governments and non-governmental organizations pour financial investment in to infrastructure (e.g. roads and utilities) in order to enable production and move goods more easily. In so doing, however, they might be unaware of habitat destruction; human and environmental exposure to hazardous materials; and displacement of poor settlements. Sustainability bears in mind renewable energy resources, environmental impact (as with a state of Oregon water project) and equitable access.