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Sustainable development Foundations

Foundations of sustainable development

In the beginning of the 1970s, the world suffered the first major oil shock.  Whereas dependence on black gold was turning out to be most significant, black tides and acid rain are the corollaries of unbridled growth.

The Club of Rome appealed for a “STOP to growth!”

The discussion was initiated.

In 1972, under the aegis of the United Nations, the international community stated the conviction in Stockholm, that “Man has a fundamental right to freedom, equality and adequate conditions of life, in an environment of a quality that permits a life of dignity and well-being, and he bears a solemn responsibility to protect and improve the environment for present and future generations.” Furthermore, “Economic and social development is essential for ensuring a favourable living and working environment for man and for creating conditions on earth that are necessary for the improvement of the quality of life.”

With this declaration, the states called for the protection of the environment and natural resources, but also for the need to grow.  These two notions have not been reconciled since; they are still opposed!  And environmental matters continue to be managed on the margin, even in opposition to the economy. 

In 1987, the Bruntland report defined sustainable development as “development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

This definition does not state explicitly the three well known pillars or 3Ps:  People, Planet, Profit, but links them summarily in the notion of to “meet the needs of man.” Furthermore, it implies that the notion of sustainability can be considered only by combining sacrosanct growth with the social and environmental dimensions.

Whereas the concept has been known for some years, it was this UN report that gave it a real international reverberation.  Europe signed up very rapidly as one of the leaders in this sustainable drive, as it is known, whether at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 or at the Kyoto Conference in 1997.  For it rightly sees it as an engine for integrated growth…

Since then, communications, directives and initiatives have ensued and are echoed at the European as well as national and even regional level. Some are announcing the return to a certain “frugality” in consumption.  Others specify that developments will tend towards everyone becoming aware of the need to reduce the impact of the production-consumption system, which is proving rather unsustainable at present.  More specifically, in 2003, Europe launched the Integrated Product Policy (IPP), wishing thus to enshrine in its objective the reduction of the environmental impact of products and services throughout their lifecycle, from the extraction of natural resources to the end of life (waste), via their actual life (use).

Sustainable development
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Gilles Perraudin. Architect.
"This is how stone, this material of our history, is emerging as the material of our future, thanks to its qualities."    

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