The collective and individual responsibility for the sustainable management of the environment and natural resources must take into account both current and future generations. Favoring the empowerment of stakeholders is at the same time encouraging the principle of stewardship, that is to say relying on a representative of current and future generations who acts as the “guardian” of natural resources and the environment.
General principles of development
In addition to the five fundamental conditions which must be fulfilled to ensure the achievement of development, it is also possible to define five major principles which equally underlie the implementation of this concept. These principles relate more to the definition of development itself than the above-mentioned conditions.
1. Integration of environment and economy
Obviously, the environment and the economy are closely linked. More than a simple principle, this mesh is a necessity for development. As such, various economic instruments or policies can promote development, or at least lead to a more environmental use of resources. These instruments or policies, for example the polluter-pays or consumer-pays approach, can be geared as much towards producers as towards consumers and taxpayers, and allow the market to correctly fix the overall cost of the use of resources. However, in order for the real value of natural resources to be taken into account, producers and economic agents often need to change their attitude. It is therefore not excluded that tax incentives or
The integration of the environment and the economy is as much to the advantage of the less fortunate countries as to that of those which are more fortunate because, if the production models respect both economic and environmental rules, it may be a better balance of comparative advantages of production. It can also follow a relaxation of the rules of world trade, which allows less well-off countries to claim better economic development.
Certain traditional economic indicators can also serve as benchmarks for assessing the degree of integration of the economy and the environment. We are thinking here in particular of the Gross Domestic Product and per capita income, or even more global indicators that take into account social aspects, such as the human development indicator which includes longevity, level of education and income, or finally strictly environmental indicators such as water quality, land use, etc.
2. Preservation of Biological Diversity and Conservation of Natural Resources
Achieving development requires preserving biological diversity, sustaining ecological processes and life-sustaining systems, and making wise use of species and ecosystems. This means that development based on the conservation of resources requires recourse to energetic measures which will make it possible to protect the structure, functions and diversity of the natural systems on which life depends.
These measures must target species and ecosystems, as well as the genetic heritage they contain. Consequently, the limits and the capacity for renewal of natural resources such as soils, wild and domestic species, forests, pastures and agricultural lands, fresh water and marine ecosystems must not be compromised. Even in the case of non-renewable resources, efforts must be made to extend their lifespan by developing and using more efficient and cleaner technologies and by favoring reuse and recycling techniques.
First of all, it is therefore necessary to change the behavior and attitudes of individuals and communities towards the environment and give them the real means to manage it better. Then, at the state level, approaches must be put in place that integrate the development and conservation of resources, based on sufficient information and knowledge and through appropriate legal and institutional instruments. Finally, at the international level, the development, adoption and implementation of conventions and protocols relating to the environment and natural resources must be encouraged.
3. Precaution, Prevention and Evaluation
Precaution, prevention and evaluation are the starting point for real development. They must be an integral part of the planning and implementation of any development project. Planners and decision-makers must develop the reflex to foresee and prevent the environmental consequences of projects.
Current environmental protection measures are precautions, but they are frequently balms that are not always compatible with the concept of development, especially from a long-term perspective. However, the concepts of precaution, prevention and evaluation prove to be difficult to instill because they are often far removed from everyday reality and their benefits will be felt in the more or less distant future. If prevention is cure, predicting is knowing, and evaluating is planning, it is imperative that states and societies adopt these three adages so that present development turns into development.
4. Consultation, Partnership and Participation
Achieving development has become a collective responsibility that must materialize through joint action at all levels of human activity. Consultation and concertation at all decision-making levels are essential for the management of the resources of terrestrial, aquatic and marine ecosystems. It is the responsibility of all states and nations to work together in good faith and in a spirit of partnership to implement effective strategies to protect, preserve and restore the environment. Everyone must participate actively and do their fair share, taking into account their capacity and the means at their disposal.
Each State must accept its responsibilities by favoring policies and economic growth programs compatible with the protection of its environment and that of others. It must ensure that the ecosystems which are of particular importance for the culture and lifestyles of the populations who depend on them are protected. In addition, it must improve the conditions of participation of non-governmental organizations and decentralized or local communities in order to involve them more in all activities concerning development and the environment.
On the other hand, States must together strengthen international law by adhering to existing conventions and protocols on environmental conservation and management and by adopting the laws necessary for their application. They must also promote and develop new agreements or tools deemed necessary for the achievement of development.
Consultation and partnership also presuppose that the better-off countries put in place financial and technical assistance measures that would allow the less well-off countries to more easily integrate environmental issues into their development programs. The creation of specific funds for the protection and restoration of the environment certainly deserves consideration.
The preservation of biological diversity illustrates very well the interdependence of the “North and South blocks” in the necessary establishment of new partnerships. Indeed, the main “centers or foci of biological diversity” are located more in the countries of the South, while the major “centers of technology or biotechnology” are mainly found in the countries of the North. This means that countries of the South and countries of the North must be involved in all the discussions, solutions and conventions necessary for the achievement of development. Everyone must ensure that intervention measures are adapted to the specific realities of each individual. The most developed countries will undoubtedly have to make the necessary efforts for a better development of the less well-off countries and, in particular,
5. Education, Training and Awareness
Safeguarding the environment and achieving development depend not only on technical and economics tuition issues, but also on changing ideas, attitudes and behavior. The direct participation of individuals and communities is essential. Everyone must become fully aware of their environment, know its requirements and limits and change their habits and behaviors accordingly.
To do this, the States must, for their part, develop strategies aimed at better educating, informing and sensitizing their populations in matters of environment and development. For example, priority should be given to integrating ecological and environmental concerns into school curricula; to raise awareness among the general public through extensive information campaigns, in particular through the media; encourage the establishment of green projects in local communities; and develop training programs that promote smarter management of resources and the use of clean technologies.
Development is in a way a question of balancing the needs of the present generations and those of the generations to follow. This balance takes on its full meaning when placed in a context of economic integration on a global scale.