Will the Pathways to Sustainable Development be different in developing and developed countries? Do they have to be?

Prasad Modak
Chief Sustainability Office and Dean, IL&FS Academy; Executive President, Environmental Management Centre, LLP

Today, we see that the global intensity of resource consumption and degradation is rapidly increasing.

The material and product flows are getting skewed and distorted especially across the developed and developing economies.

There are serious questions about the how sensitive and fair are we on the side of access and equity and how much do we bother collectively about the planet’s resource sustainability.

The looming threat of climate change has put in pressure to move towards carbon constrained economies. We need to change the way we live, the choices we make and the products & services we offer. If our goal is to move towards low carbon societies, then we need to tame our consumption patterns and decouple generation of wastes/emissions from economic progress.

The trends on above in the developing and developed world appear to be different. Nations that are on the rising growth curve of the economy, those on the plateau and those dipping down on economic growth are showing different responses on the interest on sustainability. There is a mismatch.

Each nation sees different challenges and opportunities. Efforts towards global and collective actions do not seem to work with national aspirations an challenges overriding. Developed and developing world are following different pathways towards development.

How do these “halves” of developing and developing world work towards the goal of sustainability? Are the present mechanisms effective and adequate?

And is there a disconnect leading to a “distorted  circle” . Are we reaching towards  a “wheel out of balance”?

It is critical that the product/material/energy flows, technology & innovations,  financing &  partnerships are well knit across developed and developing world. “Benefit all” should be the motive.  

To achieve this goal, engagement between the private sector (especially via supply chains), community and government (through public private partnerships) and harmonization of policies and regulations (for managing resources and residues) become very important. We need to embark on a “universal sustainability literacy” as a truly global effort to get the academia and communities involved. How can we address such a challenge?

We need here top down as well as bottom up approaches, partnerships especially across the G-B-C (Governments, Business & Communities) which connect developed and developing world on a canvas that is strategic. Few examples of success are critical to show case as a lighthouse, serve a guide and a source of inspiration for others to follow.

We need to present such examples. And we have to leverage on them and influence the world.

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