n e w s l e t t e r
Vol. I No. 1 October-December, 2003

  Development Alternatives

Quarterly Newsletter
Environmentally Sound
Appropriate Technologies

Editorial Team:
Rajiv Gupta, Ambika Sharma
Design & Layout:
Sasi M  & Satyaban Ray
Supported by:
Ministry of Environment & Forests
Printed at:
 Excellent Printing House, New Delhi

Technology As if people matter

The 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 respected.

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.