Like many other people I have been quoting the Bruntland Report definition of SD for years. When I looked up the original I was amazed to find that the popular version is incomplete. What the commission actually said was:
"Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It contains within it two key concepts:
NEEDs - in particular the essential needs of the poor, which require over-riding priority,
LIMITATIONS - imposed by the environment's ability to meet present and future needs."
We over consummers are right to focus on the limitations but we need to remember that for two thirds of the worlds population it is meeting current needs that are more urgent (note I did not say more important!)
How can we help people to feel sufficient empathy with the truly poor to redirect resources to meeting their needs rather than our greed?
Best wishes,

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Hi Jim

Thanks for this reminder of the full definition. It's salutory that the decades since Brundtland haven't seen much positive change in the direction of meeting the essential needs of the poor, despite this call for them to have over-riding priority.

Your question contains an implicit assumption - that it's lack of empathy which is blocking change and that sufficient empathy will be the thing that unblocks it.

I wonder too about the structural and systemic factors which might be keeping people in poverty (both at an individual level i.e. within a society where not everyone is poor, and at a societal level).

These are increasingly coming into question, as people try to understand better causes of the current economic crisis, and what the best (short and long term) solutions to it are.

Not much empathy with the bankers, at the moment!

Best wishes

Hi, Jim. That's a big question, particularly when adjacent items on the main evening news can address emergency funds to keep car factories going and deteriorating oceans without drawing attention to any possible relationship between the two.

How can we help people to inquire more deeply into the systems we are part of?

I've been wondering if our greed arises from fear of having to depend on other people and a belief that money enables us to be independent of others.




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