At the heart of symbolism

Sustainable development, a global approach


Development and generations

The idea of development appeared in the 18th century and spread over the 19th with the industrial revolution and the mechanization of production. Nevertheless, this development led to an over exploitation of non renewed natural resources (water, oil and gas) and generated serious pollution that compromise all future generations. The necessity of another development mode arose out of sustainability. This idea disseminated many initiatives, but we are still far away from a culture of sustainable development based on inter generational solidarity. That is due to the difficulty of comprehending such a notion and to implement it.

Sustainable development covers, at once, environmental, social, economic and institutional issues. The main interest of sustainable development is precisely to attempt to comprehend all these aspects in their totality. Such an approach is all the more justified because the development components are not isolated, but strongly inter dependent. Now, the human being has lost the faculty of such an approach a long time ago as he has forgotten the links that united him to nature.

During the 20th century, a deep social and cultural transformation moved the human being away from nature. For people today, nature is quite often reduced to cemented coastal zones and mountainous slopes furrowed with ski tows. The economic development of so-called modern societies has reduced the environment to a role of natural resources supplier, waste tip, leisure areas and natural reserves.

This perception of nature is not without connection to the being's development. In fact, such a development leans on the actualization of the being possibilities in the framework of the surrounding environment. The influences of the environment do not determine the being, but express him according to the harmony that must exist between the being and his environment. Without these influences, the being could not realize all his possibilities, the development of which constitutes the goal itself of existence. For more details, see Spirit and body.

It is vital in fact that the environment can respond to the being's expectations for each of the states he will have to go through during his life. If the external conditions allow the being to develop, the environment will take advantage of a widened vision of the being. If it is not the case, the being will be cut off from himself; he will leave a part of his buried potentialities and reduce his perception of the environment to a minimum. The total development of the being is consequently based on a correspondence between the “outer” and “inner” nature and covers various aspects: physical, psychical and spiritual.

Consequently, both being and sustainable development require a global approach. Now, if the total development of the being explicitly integrates the “outer” nature, the original definition of sustainable development only refers to the being's “needs”. Is it a question of physical “needs” only or also psychical, not to say spiritual “needs” ? The global approach will enlighten us on this point.

Detailed page