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  1. 1

    Our common future.

    World Commission on Environment and Development

    Oxford, England, Oxford University Press, 1987. xv, 400 p.

    In this report, the World Commission on Environment and Development does not predict ever increasing environmental decay, poverty, and hardship in a world becoming more polluted and experiencing decreasing resources but sees instead the possibility for a new era of economic growth. This era of economic growth must be based on policies that sustain and expand the environmental resource base. Such growth is absolutely essential to relieving the great poverty that is intensifying in much of the developing world. The report suggests a pathway by which the peoples of the world can enlarge their spheres of cooperation. The Commission has focused its attention in the areas of population, food security, the loss of species and genetic resources, and human settlements, recognizing that all are connected and cannot be treated in isolation from each other. 2 conditions must be satisfied before international economic exchanges can become beneficial for all involved: the sustainability of ecosystems on which the global economy depends must be guaranteed; and the economic partners must be satisfied that the basis of exchange is equitable. Neither condition is met for many developing nations. Efforts to maintain social and ecological stability through old approaches to development and environmental protection will increase stability. The Commission has identified several actions that must be undertaken to reduce risks to survival and to put future development on sustainable paths. Such a reorientation on a continuing basis is beyond the reach of present decision making structures and institutional arrangements, both national and international. The Commission has taken care to base its recommendations on the realities of present institutions, on what can and must be accomplished now; yet to keep options open for future generations, the present generation must begin to act now and to act together. The Commission's proposals for institutional and legal change at the national, regional, and international levels are embodied in 6 priority areas: getting at the sources; dealing with the effects; assessing global risks; making informed choices; providing the legal means; and investing in the future.
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  2. 2

    Poverty's threat.

    UN CHRONICLE. 1988 Mar; 25(1):36-7.

    In the debate on the Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development, chaired by Mrs. Gro Harlem Brundtland, Prime Minister of Norway, delegates to the UN General Assembly asserted that problems generated by the impact of poverty on the environment could not be solved by restricting aid to developing countries unless those countries promised to cease damaging their environment. Rather, most delegates agreed, aid should include the resources which would enable those countries to achieve "sustainable development," i.e., development that does not destroy the environment and deplete natural resources. The United States countered with the opinion that what is needed is not a UN organized "sustainable development program," but rather a grassroots "sustainable development movement" in all countries. Several delegates pointed out that it was the affluent countries which played a large part in the destruction of the environment. The Present of the Maldives, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, pointed out, for example, that the greenhouse effect, generated by the burning of fossil fuels, would raise the sea level 2 meters, virtually submerging his country. Mrs. Brundtland pointed out that it was not morally acceptable to suggest that the poor remain poor to protect the environment. Governments at all levels, she said, must include environmental concerns in their decision making in all sectors of governmental functioning, e.g., finance, industry, energy, and agriculture.
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  3. 3

    Population and environment.

    Agarwal A

    Economic and Political Weekly. 1985 Jun 15; 20(24):1,035-7.

    A critical question for expert and laypersons is whether India's lands can support its large and growing population. This is where the "carrying capacity" comes in, for it is the number of people or animals that an area of land can support on a sustainable basis. Not 1 expert in India has attempted to quantify the carrying capacity of the area under a single development block, let alone the entire country. In late 1983, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) released an extensive study on the question of what India's land is physically capable of producing on a sustainable basis, without entering the realm of social organization and land reform. The picture of India that emerges from "Potential Population Supporting Capacities of Lands in the Developing World" is both exhilirating and sobering. India has enormous problems yet also has an equally enormous natural resource base for solving its problems. Assuming high and intermediate levels of inputs, the potential population supporting capacity of India's lands increased to 6.84 and 3.53 persons per hectare. India's lands could have fed as much as 3 1/2 times the existing population in 1975. By the year 2000 the picture changes for the better because of India's massive irrigation development plans. To obtain an estimate of the land that would be under rainfed production, FAO experts substracted the land under irrigation and land under nonagricultural uses. To get an estimate of the land under nonagricultural use, the study takes an average figure of 0.05 hectare per person of nonagricultural land. This means that in 1975 India needed 31 million hectares on nonagricultural land (10% of the total land area) and by 2000 it will need 52 million hectares (16% of the total land area). In this way, the study obtains a number of agro-ecological cells available for rainfed cultivation. After selecting the input level (low, intermediate, or high), each agroecological unit is then analyzed separately for 18 different crops, including grasslands, to get an estimate of the livestock potential. Thus, the study obtains the crop which is most productive under the unique circumstances of each agroecological unit. This gives the total productivity of each agroecological unit. What the FAO study shows clearly is that the key factors that will determine future success are good soil and water management measures. Both elements are totally lacking in India's agricultural management system. Probably more than family planning programs, India needs national "ecodevelopment" programs.
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  4. 4

    [National Conference on Population, Resources, Environment, and Development] Reunion Nacional sobre Poblacion, Recursos, Medio Ambiente y Desarrollo

    Mexico. Consejo Nacional de Poblacion [CONAPO]

    Mexico City, Mexico, Mexico. Consejo Nacional de Poblacion [CONAPO], 1984. 120 p.

    Opening remarks, presentations, comments, and conclusions are presented from the Mexican National Conference on Population, Resources, Environment, and Development, the last of a series of conferences held in preparation for the 1984 World Population Conference. The 3 papers, each with a commentary, concerned questions regarding the balance between population, resources, the environment, and development to be addressed by the World Population Conference; population, resources, and environment; and population and development. A list of comments of participants and the closing remarks are also included. Several concluding statements summarized the main points of the debate: 1) Relationships between demographic variables and economic and social processes are highly complex and the World Population Conference should take such complexities into account. 2) Reproductive and migratory behavior of the population is just 1 element influencing and being influenced by social and economic development. The decreasing rate of population growth alone cannot lead to development. 3) The quest for a better balance between resource utilization and environmental conservation, with the resulting improvement in living standards, requires immediate and realistic measures on the part of the State and the participation of the people not merely as objects but also as active subjects through their community organizations. 4) The regional dimension must be included in the analysis of disequilibrium between population and development, at both national and international levels, in order to provide a better comprehension of phenomena such as migration, urbanization, production and distribution of food, environmental deterioration, ant the qualitative development of the population. 5) Better conceptual, analytical, informative, and planning instruments must be developed regarding the themes of population and development. In particular, instruments for the medium- and longterm should be developed, since the time frame of population processes exceeds the usual programming limits. 6) Questions suitable for a forum such as the World Population Conference must be distinguished from those relating to national population policy. Nevertheless, common principles exist, such as full respect for human rights, national sovereignty, and the fundamental objectives of population policy, which should be to contribute to elevating the level and quality of life of human beings.
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  5. 5

    Study and review of the human settlements situation in Asia and the Pacific, volume 1: regional overview of the human settlements situation.

    United Nations. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific [ESCAP]

    [Bangkok, Thailand], ESCAP, [1983] viii, 70 p.

    The deteriorating quality of life in most Asian cities is an issue of growing concern for member governments of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP); overburdened infrastructure and services, proliferating slums and high population densities, pollution, traffic congestion, and rising crime rates are among the most visible consequences of rapid urbanization. Aware of the likelihood of a worsening urban environment in the years ahead, ESCAP's member countries have launched remedial programs and projects on numerous related fronts in recent years. This study is the 1st effort to collect, compile, and analyze the wealth of country-specific information on human settlements activities and conditions in the ESCAP region. This report consists of 2 volumes: 1) the regional overview on the human settlements situation in Asia and the Pacific and a report to review the draft outline on the human settlements situation in the ESCAP region, and 2) the monographs prepared by the national counterparts from the region. The ESCAP region included in this study extends from Iran in the west to Mongolia in the north, Japan in the northeast, and the Cook Islands in the southeast. It is evident that all the sample countries are attempting through national policy and programs to deal with the challenges of urbanization and urban shelter needs. Each country is reviewed as to the basic conditions of human settlement, settlement policy and programs, and financial and administrative structures. Overall, until the economies improve in these Asian and Pacific countries, it is unrealistic to assume that significantly greater allocations can be expected for human settlements. Thus, for most countries in the region, overall economic performance is the key to greater investment. Policies and programs are becoming more comprehensive; they are considering social and economic dimensions of settlement issues beyond those of mere physical form. Most important, the focus is on meeting basic needs at minimal standards--a commitment to improve conditions for the masses, not just privileged groups.
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