Understanding The Principles of Sustainable Development

Understanding The Principles of Sustainable Development

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Jaya Sharma
Assistant Manager - Content
Updated on Mar 1, 2024 15:34 IST

Principles of sustainable development are crucial for ensuring that future generations of human civilization have the sufficient availability of natural resources.


In this article, we will be discussing the principles of sustainable development and how they help our environment.

Practising sustainable development is a part of our social responsibility to ensure the survival of human civilization. It ensures that social and economic policies are created keeping protection of the environment in mind. To do this, it is important to ensure the following actions:

  • Improving the quality of life
  • Building sustainable economy
  • Protecting landscape and seascapes
  • Conserving the environment

It is important to consider that there is no conflict regarding the priority of any of these actions. 

Importance of Sustainable Development Principles

Human civilization needs to adhere to principles of sustainable development to preserve our resources. It helps maintain a balance between development activities and environmental preservation. Sustainable development principles are crucial for socio-economic development and limit the capability to cope with future requirements.  

These principles of sustainable development are essential to ensure the social, economic and environmental well-being of the community. Sustainable development principles have been developed considering the following:

  • Usage and distribution of resources that are required for improving the lives of people
  • Renewable and non-renewable natural resources help in sustaining on the planet
  • Issues that either facilitate or degrade the process of improving the quality of life

Principles of Sustainable Development

In order to ensure sustainable living, we need to follow the five principles of sustainable development:

1. Inter-generational equity/ Sustainable development of the society

This principle states that every human generation has the right to benefit from resources of past generations and the responsibility to preserve them for future generations. This principle focuses on the conservation of biodiversity and renewable resources. This sustainable development principle has originated from the 1st and 2nd principles of the Stockholm Declaration, 1972 wherein the environment is the resource basis for the survival of the present generation.

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2. The precautionary principle/ Conservation of the ecosystem or the environment/ Conservation of biodiversity of the planet

As per this principle, decision-makers must adopt preventive measures when they get hold of scientific evidence about human or environmental hazards. While the principle suggests taking preventive measures even in the absence of scientific proof of this danger, it is applied in parts after assessing the accuracy of the evidence. As per the Principle 15 of Rio Declaration, 1992:

whenever there is a threat of serious or irreversible environmental damage, a lack of full scientific certainty should not be considered a reason to postpone precautionary measures to prevent environmental degradation.  

3. Use and conservation of natural resources/ Conservation of the ecosystem or the environment

This principle has been accepted and adopted in the form of Principles 8 and 23 of Rio Earth Summit Declaration 1992. According to this sustainable development principle, natural resources must be used, keeping in mind the need to conserve them for future generations. These resources are depleting quickly due to overpopulation, urbanization, and industrialization. 

Due to this exhaustion of resources, it is important to find alternative technologies, such as renewable energy, to conserve them for long-term use. This principle is founded on the theory that the present generation must remain modest with the use of natural resources to secure them for future generations.  

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4. Environmental protection/ Conservation of the ecosystem or the environment/ Conservation of biodiversity of the planet

To ensure sustainable development in the most effective manner, it is important to protect our environment. Countries must enforce laws so that natural resources can be utilized for the long term without any harm to the environment. For its protection, countries must regulate the laws for agriculture, industries, energy, and power since these sectors directly impact our environment. In India, the Environment (Protection) Act of 1986 is in effect to prevent the environment. Along with this, there are anti-pollution laws in the country.

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5. Principle of liability to help and cooperate

This principle for sustainable development has been incorporated in Rio Declaration (1992) as Principle 9. According to this principle, states must cooperate to strengthen the indigenous capacity for sustainable development by improving scientific understanding. To improve scientific understanding, it is important to exchange scientific and technical knowledge. 

It is also important to enhance the development and adaption of existing as well as innovative yet useful technologies. As per the Principle 10 of Rio Declaration, the active participation of all concerned citizens in a relevant manner is equally important. This cooperation is important to promote economic growth and sustainable development in every country. Principle 27 suggests cooperation and partnership from both state and people for the development of international laws for sustainable development.   

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6. Poverty Eradication

Another crucial factor for practicing sustainable development is the eradication of poverty. According to the late former Prime Minister of India, Smt. Indira Gandhi, ‘of all pollutants we face, the worst is poverty’. In 1992, the Earth Summit projected that the elimination of poverty, especially in developing countries, is necessary to achieve sustainable development. It is important to adopt poverty alleviation programs to eradicate poverty. 

7. The ‘Polluter Pays’ principle

It is essential to incorporate the principle of ‘Polluter Pays’. This principle of sustainable development discourages the existence of those subsidiaries that are detrimental for trade. It is an important principle that ensures the conservation of environment in industrial societies. 

This principle has been accepted by the European Community in its Action Programme on Environment in Article 130 R (2). As per this principle:

  • Preventive action is preferable to remedial action
  • Polluter must pay the cost for preventive measures taken to preserve the environment
  • Damage to the environment must be rectified at the source

The principle is incorporated as Principle 16 of Rio Declaration of Earth Summit, 1992. It was also included as the Principle 4 of the Stockholm Declaration in 1972 but gained declaration in Rio Declaration in 1992.

8. Conservation of human resources

The role of individuals in the preservation of the climate is important. As per this principle, there must be strategies developed to maintain the well-being of people. This principle of sustainable development states that people's skill, knowledge and health are key to achieving sustainable economic growth. A healthy workforce is crucial for sustainable development. This involves not only access to healthcare services but also initiatives to improve workplace safety, reduce pollution, and ensure clean water and air. 

9. Population control and management

Population control and management as a principle of sustainable development refers to the strategies and policies aimed at stabilizing or managing the growth rate of a population to ensure that it remains within the carrying capacity of the environment. This principle is grounded in the understanding that an unchecked increase in population can lead to excessive demand on natural resources, environmental degradation, and a decline in the quality of life for individuals and communities.

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Principles of sustainable development must be implemented in full faith to ensure that we can retain resources for many future generations. While importance of sustainable development class 10 chapter seemed not so important from exam point of view, it certainly has a hige impact on our lives. Sustainable development not only protects our environment but also maintains a balance between the society and nature. By adopting this way of life, we are ensuring that human civilization keeps on existing for long term on the planet.

About the Author
Jaya Sharma
Assistant Manager - Content

Jaya is a writer with an experience of over 5 years in content creation and marketing. Her writing style is versatile since she likes to write as per the requirement of the domain. She has worked on Technology, Fina... Read Full Bio