is a brief introduction to environmental issues of sustainable
development. When you have finished reading here, you can
start exploring the Access to
Safe Water learning module.
goal of sustainable development is to improve living standards
and the quality of peoples lives, both now and for
future generations. Environmental issues are an important
piece of the development "puzzle."
issues affect everyone
and developing countries alike share environmental concerns.
Both must strive to ensure that citizens in both cities
and rural areas have clean air to breathe, safe drinking
water, and adequate supplies of clean renewable energy.
Agriculture and industry must make efficient and responsible
use of the natural resources--land, soil, forests, rivers,
oceans, mineral deposits--upon which they rely.
environmental issues are highly localized, but many others
cross national borders. Industrial and human waste dumped
into a river by one country may affect the health and livelihoods
of citizens in another country hundreds of miles downstream.
Ozone-depleting gases cause changes in the earths
atmosphere that may result in rising cancer rates and lower
crop yields in countries around the world. As global interdependence
increases, solving environmental problems requires greater
cooperation and coordination between nations regionally
the environment with the economic and social sectors.
concerns are inextricably linked to economic issues such
as poverty. People living in poverty may damage the environment
as they struggle simply to survive, cutting down trees for
fuel wood, exhausting crop land, and contaminating urban
water supplies with waste they cannot afford to treat.
concerns are also linked with social issues such as population
growth. A rapidly growing population places strains on a
countrys natural resources, as well as on its ability
to provide housing, health care, education, safe water,
and sanitation for all.
only when information about the environment is combined
with social and economic data that citizens and decision
makers can understand the full impact of development decisions
on the quality of life. The challenge for governments is
to create development strategies that incorporate values
of environmental sustainability, while increasing economic
growth and providing adequate social services.
way of measuring a countrys level of development is
to look at environmental data such as access to safe water,
which measures the percentage people who can get all the
safe water they need to lead healthy lives. As you explore
the Access to Safe
Water learning module, what other types of environmental
data and information would help you better understand how
people live in a particular country? What kinds of economic
data would give you a fuller picture of what life is like
in that country?