The initial ideas about this book's significance began during personal conversations with development experts at the Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research. I was invited by colleagues to participate in the workshops that were organized in 1992 and 1993 on the subjects relating to agriculture, natural resources, and the environment.
I had already completed a manuscript on Africa's ecology, and the symposiums heightened my interest on many issues raised in that work, because it proved that sustainability was pivotal in the future of Third World development. I then decided that the time was appropriate for a collective book that would bring together a multidisciplinary group of scholars, educators, development practitioners, international experts, and professionals who could discuss the issues of sustainable development from a holistic perspective.
I strongly believe that, if development is to be sustained for any length of time in the Third World, it must be done in a systematic and holistic manner. The characteristics of the strategy must come from different fields of study. The interplay of the economic and environmental parameters must be thoroughly understood -- hence, the need for the diverse backgrounds of the contributors.
Sustainable development has been approached from many viewpoints over the past 14 years without a concise or precise definition of for what sustainable development really stands. The matter is made even more complicated when scholars attempt to define sustainability.
Nonetheless, in 1987, the Brundtland Commission published Our Common Future, which set the tone for many debates about what constitutes sustainable development. Since then, institutions, such as the World Bank, the United States Agency for International Development, and many United Nations departments, have attempted to