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Sustained Development- A Means To Transcending Societies

Updated on July 20, 2015

What is sustained development?

It is a developmental practice that envisions the well being of a larger, also taking into account especially the oppressed sections of a society by laying a self sustained platform for their betterment so they can be self independent which ultimately benefits the future generations in the course to come. The level of thought assesses that the demands put forth by present generations to meet needs should not harm nature's health and ability towards providing for the future generations to meeting their own needs.

After the growth theory also termed as the trickle-down theory failed to penetrate to the grass root level masses, economists shifted towards the developmental theory. The developmental oriented approach is a process engaged in terms of enhancing the acceleration of economic growth but by adopting a means focused on increasing the per capita income of a nation at hand. Through the developmental approach, growth trickled down to the masses.

By integrating the concept of sustainability with development a broader picture can be achieved that will leave the oppressed masses to progress not only of this generation, but of the future generations to come.

Unravelling a structural plot within

According to Paulo Freire, there exists a structure with two sections in society known as the oppressors and the oppressed. The oppressed are those subjugated by the oppressors who posses economic, political and social power. The oppressors will prevail as long as this structure of exploitation is reinforced.

Bringing about sustainable development is an approach not in favour of the oppressors as it tries to break the very foundation of what keeps the oppressors at power. As most oppressors hold economic power which ties links to political powers, policies are generally drafted in favour of the oppressors. The social power they posses includes voices of a few powerful agents who suppress the opinions of the oppressed by keeping them in a state of trance. This could be under the guise of film actors and media that the masses humbly succumb to.

Paulo Freire’s methods of intervention:

Paulo Freire suggests the only way to bring about a change in the situation is to shift power structures in the current structural system. This means engaging into confrontation if necessary with the oppressive power structures. This leads to a shift of power!

Paulo Freire emphasized on the banking system of education which focused on bring in a constructive sense of learning into the educational system. This would in turn facilitate a progressive shift in the levels of consciousness.

According to him there exist three levels of Consciousness:

  • In the phase of magical consciousness the oppressed generally deny the fact there exists an issue and they blame God, faith, luck or consider it their destiny to be in the current situation they are in.
  • In the phase of naive consciousness the oppressed move from conforming to reforming. They start to feel a general dissatisfaction with the issue and start to pity themselves. The oppressed start to wake from their slumber and understand the intentionality of the oppressive agents.
  • Finally in the phase of critical consciousness the oppressed start to analyze the situation they are in, and identify the cause-effect relationship. They engage into scientific understanding and ultimately bringing about a transformation in the oppressive system.

Is my sustainability your sustainability?

Sustainable development even though is a universal concept its application varies from the Northern hemisphere to the southern hemisphere. According to the Humanistic understanding the goal of society is to achieve ‘common good’. The social question arises when this common good is not achieved as a cause of unsustainable means. This is where society needs to intervene in bringing about common good to create a progressive environment.

Features of Sustainable development

  • It is universally applicable
  • It is practical at all levels, be at a community level or local level and even at national or at a global level
  • Its outcome is progressive in nature
  • Sustained societies will never perish and can always rise back from the ashes. for example, Germany being a sustained nation managed to rise back up after the world war
  • Sustained development brings about a stable balance in society

The Three Core Drivers of Unsustainability:

Apart from breaking down power structures in society, the following three elements need to be countered when looking forth towards sustainability. Countering theses three core drivers of unsustainability is the only means to building societies on progressive platforms.

  • Consumption- When the carrying capacity increases there is more strain put forth on the environment and hence at times basic resources for consumption will not be able to meet the needs of the people. For example, a state of poverty will always prevail in India as the population of the nation has far crossed the carrying capacity in proportion of the geographic land.
  • Production-Gross inefficiencies in production should be countered, production should be efficient both economically and environmentally, and production should be effectively undertaken to meet consumption needs. Goods should be produced only to meet human needs and not wants, as wants are unlimited and the environment will never be able to bear the demand put forth. As Mahatma Gandhi said "There is enough for everyone's need, but not for everyone's greed"
  • Distribution- Inequitable distribution of global income between rich and poor should be monitored.The means to achieving a balance is raising taxes on higher incomes and consumption of materialistic goods . Distribution of goods and capital should flow on a balanced platform. The flow of capital should be a two way flow and not a one sided flow as prevailing in the context from the hands of the oppressed into the hands of the oppressors. Demand and supply should be kept stable to avoid price rise.

Sustained development- a means to a start

Building societies on a sustained platform is the only means to empower the masses to counter issues like inequality, corruption, poverty, hunger and so on. A sustained developmental approach is the only means to transcending societies over the course of centuries. It is imperative hence that development to be sustained must be that development engaged on the basis of bringing about equity, by improving the quality of life and bridging the gap on inequality.

Development is not just geographical development but is that development which should bring about an altered state in negative attitudes too. It must bring about a holistic sense of integrated development that is economic, political, social and environmental.

The process of engaging into sustained development can be compared to that of a plant as in what you sow, so shall you reap!

The outcome of engaging in development on a sustained platform will bring about a stable balance in society where all of society can engage as one hence reducing inequality to its minimum.


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    • Goodpal profile image


      4 years ago

      In democratic societies, planning ought to be bottom-up. Else it weakens the very foundation of collective voice. Why on the earth someone sitting elsewhere, who knows nothing about my area, dictate how my area should be developed?

      I and the people around me are the best judge of what affects our lives and we should go about our local problems.

    • Clive Paiva profile imageAUTHOR

      Clive Paiva 

      4 years ago from Goa

      Yes, cause unfortunately globalization is a virus that has taken shape to what we refer to as 'glocalization' penetrating into the local markets.

      Infact, in India the Constitution has given immense power promoting local governance by bring about decentralization. This gives rise to a bottom up approach for planning taking into the account the needs and opinions of the local masses, and an top-down approach in implementation

    • Goodpal profile image


      4 years ago

      I agree with Schneider on local governance. It is the local governance that give people the power as well as prosperity. This whole mumbo-jumbo of globalization and out-sourcing is only a way exploit people to beef up the profits of a few already powerful corporate business entities. For the benefit of ordinary people, what is needed is "localization" and not globalization.

    • profile image

      Howard Schneider 

      4 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

      Very interesting idea, Clive. The inequality we see in most societies is horrible and must be corrected. Local governments can begin this immediately and observe its benefits to its constituents.

    • Clive Paiva profile imageAUTHOR

      Clive Paiva 

      4 years ago from Goa


      The sole purpose of a democratic welfare government is to function for the well-being of its people and not function at the cost of exploiting the masses. Liberal policies and MOU's supported by the governments of developing and underdeveloping nations pave the way for private investors to enter the markets, thus leading governments to disinvest from the once safe guarded local interests. For example water, electricity, health and education and a whole array of basic essential needs are turned into profit making institutions and the profits land up flowing across geographical boundaries into hands of oppressive power!

      Intervention needs to start here too as only when the local masses get the right to accessibility of their essential basic needs from the hands of private profit making agencies to the government subsidized rates of non profit making (local government bodies) will they be able to raise their voices.

    • Goodpal profile image


      4 years ago

      I agree that economics has come to control everything in human life today. And it is precisely the cause behind most problems we face today. The funniest part is that we use GDP growth as measure of growth in human well-being. Any economics sophomore can tell that GDP can be grown in ways that have nothing to do with people's well being. It is this obsession to grow the GDP that is leading to activities that lead to unsustainable development.

      Your example of golf course is a case in point. We now should start focusing on other dimensions of life such as arts, music, culture, spirituality, clean and healthy natural environment, biodiversity and so on.

      Obsession to grow the GDP has become something like an imaginary mania to grow only, say, the right hand, neglecting rest of the body parts!!

    • Clive Paiva profile imageAUTHOR

      Clive Paiva 

      4 years ago from Goa


      Thanks for reading my article and leaving an insightful comment.

      yes, I agree to what you say, and Bangladesh is said to be raking as one of the top most countries ranked on the GNH indicator.

      I myself am an environmentalist working on environmental issues related to sustainability. But iv come to realize that the economic dimension controls all the systems (spheres) in society and if you want to bring about environmental development on a sustained platform which includes sustainability in all the three spheres then you need to intervene the economic dimension too and only by doing so can you achieve environmental development on a sustained platform!

      We do need to hit the most powerful system and that is the economic system.

      For example, I worked on the issue of golf course that was bringing about rapid displacement and ecological degradation. Even though this golf course had an integrated effect on the environment, the major cause that lead to the golf course coming up was due to unsustainable economic development!!

    • Goodpal profile image


      4 years ago

      Human life is multidimensional; we have somehow reduced it to mono-dimension - economics. As Nobel laureate Amartya Sen laid down: development has to be focused on People and expansion of their capabilities. When we view GDP, which is just an economic number, as the sole barometer of progress we have diverted the focus.

      A tiny country in the Himalayas, Bhutan, uses what it calls gross national happiness (GNH) as an indicator of human progress. Its model considers many things such as spirituality, leisure time, cultural practices, environment etc apart from economy in its "development" decisions. Rest of the world can learn a lot from it. It has submitted a universal proposal for holistic development model to the UN that will be debated in the later half of 2014.

      Here is a small piece on Bhutan:

      We need to get away from using the GDP (an economic parameter only) as a measure of human progress.


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