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Abstract: Sustainable development is a hot topic that discuss for so many years. It is an important aspect for a development country for how to make the development sustainable. There are three field of sustainable development that will be discussed in this article. There are some principles necessary for good urban governance for sustainable development in Malaysia.
Sustainable Development, Economic Sustainability, Environmental Sustainability, Socio-political Sustainability
Introduction – What is Sustainable Development?
Sustainable development is a hot topic that discuss for so many years. It is a significant aspect for a development country for how to make the development sustainable. It can be shown in Theodore Roosevelt (1910) said that “I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the material resources of our land; but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us.” According to World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987, sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. “Sustainable” implies forever, perpetuity, constant rebirth and renewal, and inexhaustible system. “Development” connotes change, growth, expansion,
production and movement. Both words speak of time evolutionary processes and constructive adaptation. Development, to be sustainable, must somehow incorporate renewal that ensures the continuity of matter, resources, populations and cultures, sustainability, to incorporate development, must allow change and adaptation to new conditions. Together, the two ideas speak of balancing economic and social forces against the environmental imperatives of resource conservation and renewal for the future (Porter, 2001).
Sustainable development is not just a matter of effective management of the natural environment, but also includes the management of the interdependencies among four forms of capital – financial, environment, social and spiritual (Lepani, 1998). Sustainable development means integrating the decision-making process across your organization, so that every decision is made with an eye to the greatest long-term benefits. It means eliminating the concept of waste-thinking “cradle-to cradle” rather than “cradle-to-grave,”- and building on natural processes and energy flows and cycles; recognizing the interrelationship of our actions with the natural world (Wagner, 2008). Sustainable development ties together concern for the carrying capacity of natural systems with the social challenges facing humanity. At early as the 1970s "sustainability" was employed to describe an economy "in equilibrium with basic ecological support systems" (Stivers, 1976). Meadows, Meadows, Randers, & Behrens (1971), stated that many ecologists have pointed to the “limits of growth” and presented the alternative of a “steady state economy” (Daly, 1973:1991) in order to address environmental concerns. The field of sustainable development can be conceptually broken into three constituent parts: environmental sustainability, economic sustainability and sociopolitical sustainability (Wikipedia, 2008).
Source: Wikipedia, 2008 Figure 1: Scheme of Sustainable Development According to Brundtland Commission (1983), sustainable development is the development that meets the needs of the present without comprising the ability of
future generations to meet their own needs. The concept has included notions of weak sustainability, strong sustainability and deep ecology. Sustainable development does not focus solely on environmental issues. The United Nations 2005 World Summit Outcome Document refers to the "interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars" of sustainable development as economic development, social development, and environmental protection (Wikipedia, 2008). The principle of sustainable development was also formally adopted and Agenda 21, a comprehensive plan of action for the 21st century was signed by well over 150 countries. Although the interdependence of economy and ecology was now formally acknowledged by a global community, the north and south continued to emphasise their own preoccupations: the North put their money on the negotiations of major environmental treaties whereas the South emphasised the North’s responsibility for the world’s environmental problems and demanded resources (also in technological terms) for the eradication of underdevelopment (Wikipedia, 2008).
Environmental Sustainability A definition of environmental sustainability (ES) has been given by Daly (1973:1974:1992:1996:1999) and Daly and Cobb (1989):
Output rule: Waste emissions from a project or action being considered should be kept within the assimilative capacity of the local environment, without unacceptable degradation of its future waste absorptive capacity or other important services. Input rule: Renewable resources: (e.g., forest, fish) harvest rates of renewable resource inputs must be kept within regenerative capacities of the natural system that generates them. Non-renewable: depletion rates of non-renewable resource inputs should be set below the historical rate at which renewable substitutes were developed by human invention and investment according to the Serafian quasi-sustainability rule. Although ES is needed by humans and originated because of social concerns, ES itself seeks to improve human welfare by protecting NC. As contrasted with economic capital, NC consists of water, land, air, minerals and ecosystem services; hence much is converted to manufactured or economic capital. Environment includes
the sources of raw materials used for human needs, and ensuring that sink capacities recycling human wastes are not exceeded, in order to prevent harm to humans (Robert Goodland).
Environmental Sustainability Index The Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI) is a composite index tracking 21 elements of environmental sustainability covering natural resource endowments, past and present pollution levels, environmental management efforts, contributions to protection of the global commons, and a society's capacity to improve its environmental performance over time (Wikipedia, 2008). The ESI was published between 1999 to 2005 by Yale University's Center for Environmental Law and Policy in collaboration with Columbia University's Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), and the World Economic Forum (Wikipedia, 2008). The Environmental Sustainability Index was developed to evaluate environmental sustainability relative to the paths of other countries. Due to a shift in focus by the teams developing the ESI, a new index was developed, the Environmental Performance Index (EPI) that uses outcome-oriented indicators, then working as a benchmark index that can be more easily used by policy makers, environmental scientists, advocates and the general public. The EPI has been published for 2006and 2008. (Wikipedia, 2008)
Economic Sustainability Ecological and economic sustainability emphasises the promotion and attainment of ecologically sustainable development; the complex nature of environments; and the need to protect environments for their intrinsic value, for their heritage value and as a resource to sustain life in the present and for future generations (Rationale, SOSE Syllabus). Ecological and economic sustainability involves acting ethically towards the environment by establishing and maintaining social, political and economic structures that are focused on finding quality of life in a world of limits. This key learning area views environments as natural, social and built." (Rationale, SOSE Syllabus).
There are several facets to economic sustainability. On one level, economic sustainability focuses on development, not simply growth. This implies economic activity that is conducive to, and supports, sustainable urban development. Economic sustainability is a means to a much broader end – the sustainable community. It also requires the use of appropriate technologies. Economic sustainability encourages the use of renewable resources as inputs to production. It actively discourages the generation of externalities arising from economic activity, such as air, water and soil pollution (Western Economic Diversification Canada, 2008).
Socio-political Sustainability Social sustainability means maintaining social capital. Social capital is investments and services that create the basic framework for society. It lowers the cost of working together and facilitates cooperation: trust lowers transaction costs. Only systematic community participation and strong civil society, including government can achieve this. Cohesion of community for mutual benefit, connectedness between groups of people, reciprocity, tolerance, compassion, patience, forbearance, fellowship, love, commonly accepted standards of honesty, discipline and ethics. Commonly shared rules, laws, and information (libraries, film, and diskettes) promote social sustainability (Robert Goodland, 2002).
Sustainable Development in Malaysia In Malaysia, the integration of the economic, social and environmental dimensions of development was strengthened to promote sustainable development. The government implemented measures to improve the quality of life; promote sustainable consumption and production’ protect the environment; sustainably manage the natural resource base; and enhance human; institutional and infrastructure capacity. These measures also furthered Malaysia’s implementation of Agenda 21, the United Nations Programme for Action for Sustainable Development (Economic Planning Unit, 2008). Environmental sustainability is necessary to achieve and sustain economic growth, poverty eradication, and social development. Reconciling environmental sustainability and rapid economic development calls for informed policies and strategies. Challenges include minimizing pollution, efficient land utilization, and natural resource management (United Nations Country Team, Malaysia, 2005).
It is important to note that sustainability strategies will fail unless they create or increase stakeholder value (Holliday 2001). This has been established by global business practices like the DuPont and Shell Corporations that have moved towards sustainable growth strategies. Similarly, in order for sustainable development to succeed, the development needs to demonstrate that there is tangible gain for its stakeholders (Teo, 2004). In a sustainable society, urban interventions such as infrastructure must be dealt with as an integral part of the planning process from the outset. A planning process that is context sensitive, where the context of values, culture, tradition, politics and expectations, less obvious compared to the physical context, is of greater importance. Infrastructure like highways, drainage systems, power and waste disposal plants have a significant and long-term physical presence and impact on surrounding communities. In the United States, substantive and continuous interaction with affected stakeholders in the planning, environmental and design phases of major projects has become a requirement for projects to remain eligible for Federal funding (Kassoff, 2001). Today in Malaysia, efforts are being made to ensure that large-scale infrastructure projects not only resolve urban problems but are also integrated into the existing urban landscape in ways that enhances the environment and amenities for the urban community. In addition, the ability to integrate land uses and infrastructure has been shown to provide greater opportunities in business and property development (Teo, 2004). The KL Concept 2005 case study presents an integrated water reticulation system and traffic dispersal solution for Kuala Lumpur. The plan addresses issues of flood mitigation, water shortage, water quality, environmental improvement and traffic dispersal, and attempts to look at long-term sustainable solutions and improvement of social well being through comprehensive and integrated solutions. This project also identifies the changing role of planners in urban development (Teo, 2004). The following suggest a set of principles necessary for good urban governance for sustainable development (Teo, 2004):
Identify Resources: not just physical and monetary resources but human and cultural resources as well. The failing of many of the major developments in Malaysia
is the “neglect to a large extent of the maintenance and human resource infrastructure required to support them” (APM forum, 2002) over the long term. In evolution, the concept of growth, demise and re-growth teaches us that all resources have a life span; we need to be clear what has to be conserved, enhanced or destroyed to ensure continued growth.
Develop Comprehensive Integrated Plans (CIP): physical, legal and fiscal boundaries need to be re-evaluated to allow for development that is integrated and optimises the use of our resources. The sustainability of resources and revenues depends on sharing more cooperatively among the municipalities and centres within regions to avoid destructive competition for tax base and to promote rational coordination of transportation, recreation, public services, housing, community institutions and infrastructure (CNU, 2000).
Increase Knowledge and Technology Content: the shared value of different disciplines in development teams, not just developers, architects, planners and engineers but also investment bankers, legal advisors, environmentalist etc. are important for sustainable development. Knowledge intensity increases value and keeping pace with technology ensures that creative ideas can be implemented and not discarded due to limited technology and knowledge.
Create Shareholder Value: identify shareholders, their needs, their roles and contribution to the development. More importantly, identify what each stakeholder values and how the development will achieve these values.
Measure Sustainability: the measure of sustainable development needs to be defined. Although the Agenda 21 for Selangor (2000) has identified over 50 indicators that measure economic, social and environmental sustainability, this form of measure does not look at the value of sustainability in an integrated way. An example suggested by Rogers proposes an Index of Sustainable Economic Wealth (ISEW). Unlike Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which is the current means of measuring standards of living, the ISEW takes into account negative costs, social factors such as pollution, waste, health and security.
Conclusion In order that sustainable development becomes a common practice, there needs to be changes in not just people’s mindset, design and development practices but also in existing government policies and mechanisms. As a reminder to us, that sustainable development is not about standards, but standards and standards developing organizations are clearly playing a role. They are in most case multifaceted issues and should be of interest to students in engineering, business and public administration. Good Urban Governance is the means to achieving sustainable development and value creation.
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