Sustainability is defined as the continued use of natural resources indefinitely without the energy or material source which provides some value to man (Brundtland Report, 1987). It is the ability to maintain a certain level of status or process in a system that exists. It has been studied and managed in many scales in time and space, and in several aspects such as, environment, economic, and social contexts. The term sustainability ranges from the total earth’s carrying capacity to the sustainability in economics, ecosystems, individuals, societies and mane more. It entails the biological and human activities. Sustainable development is the development that meets the needs of the present generation without jeopardizing the ability of the coming generations in meeting their own needs.
In this broader sense, sustainability encompasses the economic, environmental, and social aspects which must be coordinated to achieve a long-term viability in the environment. All practices of an individual, business, or society, must ensure that economic, social and environmental benefits are achieved. Hence, every stakeholder, individuals, businesses, or industries, must be held responsible in ensuring that their actions support the sustainability of every society. In ecological terms, sustainability refers to all means of configuring civilization and human activity to enable the present and future generations to meet their basic needs and wants, while preserving the environmental and biological systems through planning to participate in order to meet these ideals in the long-term.
The goal of sustainability is to achieve a reasonably and equitable distribution level of economic wellbeing that can be enhanced continually to the coming generations. It also means that renewable natural resources are used in a manner that does not make them extinct or degrade them, hence eliminating their value to the future generations.
Issues of sustainability in developed countries
Developed countries refers to the economically developed nations, industrialized, and often referred to as the North they Most of them are situated in the northern hemisphere and includes countries like Canada, USA, Countries in Western Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand in which the GDP exceeds per ca pita . These countries face a number of sustainability problems. First is energy issue which is a major concern. The developed nations have experienced energy crisis in the past and admits that they are addicted to oil use, however, investments in alternative energy has been given little attention leading to the overuse of the existing energy resources. Pollution has also been facilitated by the first growing rate of industrialization and urbanization in the developed nations. Industrialization has increased environmental pollution with a lot of green house emissions ij the atmosphere. The green house gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, carbon monoxide, and chlorofluorocarbons (CFC’S) are the major ozone layer depleting substances.
The developed nations have also led to resource depletion since they are the heaviest consumers of global natural resources (MacDonald, M. and Peters, 2001). Thus, most of the world’s resources are consumed by these nations at a faster rate that they can generate. For instance, forests have been cleared to provide timber to be exported to the developed nations for construction. The clearance of the forests has led to desertification, and soil erosion in many parts of the world. In addition, silting, that has resulted from soil erosion has reduced water quality and the aquatic biological productivity. Another hindrance to sustainability in the developed countries is ideological differences. Like the developing countries, developed countries have tried to minimize environmental laws and policies that are necessary in promoting sustainable development in local, national, regional and global levels. The differences in ideologies have made developing nations to argue that environmental policies to govern sustainable development are meant to restrain them from meeting the exploitation of their resources in order to develop (MacDonald, M. and Peters, 2001).