Environmental Sustainability

Article excerpt

To fight poverty and ensure human development for the greatest number (or at least half of the population) are the main objectives of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) agreed upon by approximately 147 nations, including the Philippines, in the year 2000. The United Nations (UN) targets/ goals are hopefully achievable in 2015. There are eight goals with 15 targets and goal #7 is: To "Ensure Environmental Sustainability," which has the following targets: (a) Implement national strategies for sustainable development by 2005, to reverse losses of environmental resources by 2015, (b) halve the proportions of people with no access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation or who cannot afford it by 2015, and (c) achieve significant improvement in lives of at least 100 million (global estimate) slum dwellers by 2020.In 2005, the second Philippine Progress Report on the MDGs summarized the country's status and development in the achievement of the MDGs including goal 7, i.e., to ensure environmental sustainability. The government gave the ratings of "poor or low" to the country's various aspects of environmental sustainability. The poor condition of the environment/resources is, of course, a result of decades of neglect, poor management, misuse and/or abuse of not only one sector of our society. The report states that "the ability of these major ecosystems to provide and maintain a regular stream of economic goods and ecological services has been significantly constrained by declining stocks and reduced coverage and quality."A call has been made to properly manage the country's natural resources and protect the environment to improve the quality of life of the present as well as future generations. It's 2010 and the government has been making its assessment in relation to the 15 targets and eight goals of the MDGs. The National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) is conducting its own assessment of the country's achievement 10 years before the "deadline" (i.e. 2020) to have the MDG targets/goals finally "achieved" and "celebrated." The NAST assessment will include science-based analyses of the MDG indicators, and how these indicators can be further modified based on local conditions/scenarios so that achievement of the goals will be enhanced. Specific and coordinated or linked strategies for relevant, interrelated MDGs will also be considered in the NAST recommendations and call for actions because there are overarching and closely linked MDG goals which include eradicating poverty and hunger, promoting gender equality and environmental sustainability.The sense of urgency for ensuring environmental sustainability for the present and future generations is shared by several governments/nations. As the world population surges or continues to grow, there will be even greater demand for environmental goods and services. Will environmental sustainability be really achievable in 2020 or some years beyond? Can the present 92 million and then 95 million or 100 million Filipinos be sustainably developed in a limited Philippine environment? Will our priorities and present decisions for utilization of our limited physical resources and seemingly unlimited biotic resources be able to meet all our basic needs at present? And how about those of our grandchildren and those of their grandchildren? How far can we go in terms of environmental sustainability with the present trend in our population growth?Stagnation, underdevelopment, backwardness versus industrialization, development and modernization are processes and conditions which seem to be in the opposing parts of a pole that can positively or negatively impact the environment, although studies show that both sides can be harmful to the environment depending on the degree or extent of stresses and the resiliency of the ecosystem.Environmental management/governance ideally aims for a balance in sustainable utilization and conservation of resources and environment in the 1) upland/forest/agricultural, 2) lowland/urban and industrial, and 3) aquatic (coastal/marine/and freshwater) ecosystems. …