TOPAZ Issue 1 / 2001
An insight into Stress
Garden of Remedy and Easement
New Science Eyes
Hildegard von Bingen
Pioneering youth project
Film Review: The Unbreakable
Sustainable Development

Developing Vision For a Better Environment and Future Quality of Life

by James Smith and Robert Halford

What Is Sustainable Development? Our modern way of life spells trouble for the human race as we continue to consume and pollute more than the planet can withstand.

James Smith and Robert Halford Almost every day there is another report about some new environmental crisis, species facing extinction or the next pollution disaster. It is a fact that there is a downward spiral in the state of the natural environment, and there is an increasing awareness of this. For example it is now accepted by scientists and governments that global warming and climate change is happening, something that green organisations have been telling us about for a long time. Some severe failures in the environment are now happening with unstable and disturbed weather patterns, storms and flooding.

Part of the reason for this is that the natural relationship between the planet and the human has broken down. This is apparent in the wealthy Western nations, where we have become accustomed to expect more and more from our "quality of life" with little regard to the real cost of our lifestyle and to the destruction of the planet that supports us all. Western nations now command most of the planet’s rapidly diminishing natural resources to support their way of life, but the fact is that our way of life in the ‘developed’ countries is unsustainable. We take from the planet and deposit our waste upon, in and around it, without regard.

Sustainable Development is about finding new ways of living which respects and does not destroy our host, the planet, and all life upon it. It is a ‘now’ issue. We cannot continue in the way that we have done so far. It is a perilous situation and if there is to be any change we need to rethink how to live in the future, which is a challenge and a hope.

How does Sustainable Development Work?

Many people are genuinely concerned about this and want to do something about it - but what can be done? Science is not able to offer integrated credible solutions, governments cannot agree on concerted action, some have attempted to turn back the clock, but this is not a realistic option either, as the "genie is out of the bottle" and we cannot undo much of what we have built.

Painting by Vivian MullettIt needs pioneers and leaders, who can approach the multitude of seemingly impossible problems of how to do this.

We can begin by rediscovering our values for the planet and developing a real appreciation of what it represents. Building value and having a reasoned appreciation of the planet will cause a change in the way we make decisions. This is not an academic study, it is about planting firmly what is real and of value in our lives.

People Are The Key

Increasingly governments and multi-national organisations are acknowledging the importance of sustainable development and each one of us can take a part and responsibility in the attempt to chart an alternative future where we do not destroy the earth, but improve and conserve our world and have something to hand on into the care of our children.

At core we all make decisions based on our value systems and what we believe to be reasonable, yet in today’s world we are taught very little about the workings of the planet. Often individuals are placed in a position where they have to make or accept decisions which will have far-reaching effects on our environment, yet with little real appreciation of the consequences of these decisions. The first tasking in sustainable development is to rediscover and naturalise ourselves to real human values that are aligned to the intricate, infinitely complex and integrated natural worlds that support us. Then to redress what we have done to diminish our collective view of the importance of the planet for all forms of organic life and as a part of a universal system.

We are pioneering this approach through our daily consultancy work (Enviro Management). Our aim is to develop a centre of excellence for sustainable development, to provide leadership and the power of persuasion to help make the necessary changes we know must happen if we are to provide a sustainable future for those yet to come. In our drive to establish this new project we have become more and more widely known with requests for help from UK Councils in putting together strategic plans for a sustainable future. We are also working with various other governmental organisations on sustainable development. Our mission is to be influential and to spark a sea change in the steps towards a new future. After all, if our generation does not choose to do something, then who will?

James Smith and Robert Halford have 40 years’ professional experience in consultancy within the environmental fields. Their work involves establishing a principled approach in addressing some of the pressing environmental issues facing the world.

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