A concept that we have all heard from time to time is that of Sustainable Development. Perhaps the most widespread definition is that of the United Nations, which refers to it as a development that can “guarantee the well-being of present generations without compromising that of future generations”, located in the report of the World Commission for the Environment and Development that served as the basis for the 1992 Rio de Janeiro United Nations Conference.
This definition, as concise as it is not very enlightening, leaves many doors open for governments and multinational companies to make their own and convenient interpretation, based on the need for economic growth, in order to satisfy the (consumption) needs of present generations.
Thus, afforestation with non-native species, the excessive increase in the production of consumer goods and even the flooding of fertile lands with transgenic species, try to protect themselves under this ambiguous definition.
It is not necessary a greater economic development than the current one so that 100% of the inhabitants of the planet can live without deficiencies.
That there are billions of poor people is not the result of economic development not being enough for everyone. In the last forty years, there has been a great growth of the wealth produced in the world, we have possibly had the highest rate of economic growth in history. However, inequalities, the poor, the indigent, those without access to clean water, infectious diseases and infant mortality have increased. The gap between the poorest 20% and the richest 20%, which was 1 to 30 in 1960; today it is 1 to 80.
There are people whose annual income exceeds that of entire countries, whose personal energy expenditures could reach to illuminate entire towns, whose ecological footprint is deeper than that of hundreds or thousands of poor people.
As long as the inequalities generated by the unfair distribution of wealth inherent to the capitalist system are not reversed, no economic growth will be enough to reduce poverty, nor social inequalities, nor the environmental deterioration suffered by the planet.
Development must be Sustainable, but this does not mean that we can have unlimited economic development, but rather that we must have development based on the redistribution of wealth, on cultural and social growth, on enabling access to a decent life for those who do not They have it, in literacy, respect for nature and in the use of technologies that allow drastically reducing the environmental impact of the production of consumer goods.