The Concept Of Sustainable Development: Its Practicability In Developing Countries Like Nigeria by Dr Mrs F E. Nlerum
The growing concern about safeguarding the environment transcends the need to protect it in the interest of the people who live and work in it, and exploit its resources, today. The concern represents an inter-generational solidarity and an acknowledgment of a debt to humanity and the world of tomorrow with respect to use of the environment today.
There is no doubt that what we, as human beings, do affect on our environment- land, air we breathe, water we drink, and all living creatures. AII our actions ultimately have consequences on the quality and quantity of natural resources of the planet. These resources are interrelated with life on this planet and, their exploitation constitutes the primary source of livelihood for people. As human population increases and, as we stick to approve the welfare of members of the human society, the pressure of these resources increases.
Many commentators have argued that non-renewable resources such as minerals, petroleum, etc., are unlikely to be depleted because as their costs rise, we will find substitutes, we will recycle, or we will access new sources, yet the extraction of these resources places a heavy toll on natural and social systems. Renewable resources such as water, forests, topsoil, fisheries, etc., on the other hand, are under extreme pressure due to prevalent practices on their exploitation and, their productivity is therefore in the decline. Environmental degradation is one of the primary indications of unsustainable social and economic systems. The proper management of natural resources is the focus of the struggle for more sustainable and equitable development.
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This will require great ingenuity and cooperation across countries and culture. The failure to manage these resources in sustainable manner is in many cases already leading to conflict and disaster. The resolution of this challenge will be the key to sustainability of development in most developing countries.
For developing countries like Nigeria who depend, for the most part, on the exploitation and harnessing of natural resources to finance their development, an antinomy exists between the needs for environmental protection and for revenue generation. It is however, imperative that the exploitation of natural resources is carried on with due regard for the need to protect the environment. Against the backdrop of this imperative, the concept of sustainable development provides the philosophical plank on which the exploitation of natural resources in developing countries should be pursued.
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Indeed, the Nigerian Constitution obligates the State to protect and improve the environment and safeguard the water, air and land, forest and wildlife of Nigeria. The protection of the environment as demanded by this constitutional provision becomes the anchor for the adoption of the requirement of the concept of sustainable development in Nigeria. Sustainable development is thus an operative philosophy to which every participant in the global economy must subscribe if we are to meet todays needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.