Rajiv Gupta, Ambika Sharma
Design & Layout:
Sasi M & Satyaban Ray
Ministry of Environment & Forests
Excellent Printing House, New Delhi
Technology — As
if people matter
search for human well being has led to a growing demand for
models of development different from those that have thus far
dominated economic and political thinking. While development must
certainly create wealth, it must also directly and
simultaneously enhance social justice and equity. At the
same time, it has to care for environmental quality and the
productivity of the resource base. And it must do so not
only for everyone now, but also for the generations to come.
To achieve these complex goals, we need technologies and
institutions that use resources efficiently, value systems that
conserve and regenerate the environment and economic structures
that promote self-reliant, endogenous choices.
It is commonly believed that the goals for sustainability cannot
be achieved globally unless the principles of equity and of
common, responsibilities between the North and South are
The differences between the North and South are stark.
Energy conservation, for example, is an everyday concern that
most Europeans can address with off-the-shelf products.
Villagers in many parts of India, on the other hand, still spend upto
four times the amount of fuel actually needed to fire bricks for
the most basic of human desires – a home. Yet a technology does
exist that can produce better bricks, while drastically reducing
the energy consumption and green house gas emissions at the same
time. There are hundreds of such examples. New
products and technologies, many with significant positive social
and environmental spin-offs, are available for mass
distribution. These have been the outcome of many decades
of sophisticated science and technological development as also
of many centuries of traditional wisdom and knowledge.
The very nature of technologies currently used in large
industrial systems have put a cap to environmental
sustainability and therefore to sustained economic development.
Material intensities, mass movement of resources, transport
energy and distribution costs are associated with such scales of
manufacturing and marketing that nature cannot support.
Are there any alternatives? Sustainability on a global
scale must be driven by a mix of clean and efficient production
systems at all scales, including the micro and small that create
jobs by the millions. Essentially, developing societies will
need a large number of technology based sustainable livelihoods.
Sustainable livelihoods are jobs that generate income, create
goods and services for basic needs, and regenerate the
environment and natural resource base. And in doing so,
sustainable livelihoods will improve the quality of life of the
poor in these countries.