• Internal Code :
  • Subject Code : BE1153
  • University : Northumbria University
  • Subject Name : system modelling

Sustainable Development for Engineering Practitioners

Summary of relevant classes of stakeholder 

The stakeholders of the sustainable development of society and environment in Berwick and United Kingdom at large are the communities having vested interests, employees, shareholders, and the customers. They all have stake in the sustainable development of society and environment and sustainable development plans in the regions mentioned above. All these people have been affected by the sustainability efforts of the relevant organizations and the society as a whole is affected by those efforts along with the global environment (Greenfield, 2013). The organizations linkages with the developing countries and global economy make the inclusion of the developing economies and the citizens of countries as stakeholders. These people are affected by the sustainable efforts and improvement of natural resource reserves and quality of water taking place with the environmentally sound practices.      

Opportunities for sustainable development and potential impact on society and environment 

To ensure a sustainable Level or Population

The development’s sustainability has intimate linkages with the population growth or the dynamic. However, the issue is not only about the global population size. A child born in Berwick or United Kingdom have high levels of energy and materials usage burdening the resources of the Earth more compared to a child born in a developing country. When within United Kingdom, similar application of this argument is valid. Nevertheless, the pursuing of the sustainable development can be easier when there is stabilized population size having consistency with the ecosystem’s productive capacity. 

In the industrial nations such as United Kingdom, the overall population growth rate is below 1 percent and there are many countries having reached or very near to the zero population growth. The population of the developed nations in total can increase to around 1.4 billion in the year 2025 from the current l.2 billion. In the industrial nations, there is decline in the birthrates because of social and economic development. The urbanizations and the rising income levels and the women’s changing role have all played crucial roles (Caragliu et al., 2009). For sustainable development, these should be encouraged and recognized. There should be integration of the population policies with other social and economic development programs such as, health care, female education, and expansion of the poor’s livelihood base. The development process involves urbanization as a part of it. The challenges lie in managing the process in avoiding the deterioration of the life quality. Therefore, smaller urban centers’ development (such as Berwick) needs encouragement in reducing the pressures of big cities like London. To solve the impending crisis of the urban centers requires urban service and self –help housing’s promotion for and by the poor, and informal sector’s more positive role that must receive support with sufficient funds for sanitation, water supply, and other services.  

To conserve and enhance resource base

On a sustainable basis, it needs are to be the pier of the natural resource base of this Earth that must be subject to conservation and enhancement. In United Kingdom, for the area of Berwick and the country as a whole, major policy changes are required in coping with the current high consumption level and the expected population growth. However, the case for nature or the conservation must not be based on developmental goals only. It involves moral obligation of the stakeholders of the sustainable development to the future generations and living beings. There is increase of pressure on resources when the people have been lacking with the alternatives. The policies of development must be widening the options for the people for earning’s sustainable livelihood, especially for the households that are resource poor and areas having ecological stress. The programs must be protecting the foresters, fishermen, and farmers against the decline of the short term price that may be decreasing their need of overexploiting resources. 

The pressures on agricultural land with the livestock and crop production can be relieved partly with augmentation of productivity. However, short term, and short sighted improvements in productivity can be the reason for the creation of ecological stress, such as pesticide residues in food, ground water’s nitrate pollution, irrigated lands’ alkaliration and sanitation, and in standing crops’ loss of genetic diversity. Future productivity increase in United Kingdom should be on the basis of agrichemicals and water’s better controlled application and along with it more extensive usage of pest control’s non-chemical means and organic manures.  These options should be subject to promotion by an agricultural policy resting on the ecological realities.            

For the forestry and fisheries, naturally available stocks and their exploitation is what the policy makers should be relying on. From these stocks, the sustainable yields may be short of demand. Therefore, it is required that methods of producing more forest products, fuel wood, and fish be turned under controlled conditions. There can also be promotion of the substitutes for fuel wood.   

The determinant of the global development’s ultimate limit is the energy resources’ availability and the capacity of the biosphere for absorbing the energy usage’s by products (Hollands, 2008). These limits of energy should be approached before the other material resources imposing limits. Firstly, there are problems with supply; nuclear technology hazards; coal mining’s environmental and high cost impact; and oil reserves’ depletion. Secondly, there are problems with emissions in the form of carbon dioxide build-up and acid pollution that leads to global warming. These problems can be mitigated by the higher usage of renewable energy sources. However, the renewable sources’ exploitation such as hydropower and fuel wood entails also the ecological problems. Therefore, sustainability has the need of clear focus to conserve and use energy efficiently.      

The industrialized nations like UK should recognize that its consumption of energy does pollute the biosphere and eats into the supplies of scarce fossil fuel. The improvements taken place recently in energy efficiency and shifting towards the sectors that are less energy intensive have extending help in limiting consumption. However, there should be acceleration of this process in reducing the per capita consumption and extends encouragement in shifting non-polluting technologies and sources.  

The non-fuel mineral resources have been posing fewer problems related to supply. The studies conducted prior to 1980 have had the assumption of exponential growth in demand that failed envisaging the problem till well into the 21st century. From that point onwards, most metals’ consumption remained largely constant, suggesting that non-fuel minerals’ exhaustion is even more distant. The technological developments’ history is also suggestive that it is possible for the industry adjusting to the scarcity through greater efficiency in substitution, recycling, and use. The needs which are immediate are inclusive of modification of the pattern of the world trade with minerals in allowing exporters with greater share in the value added from the use of mineral and improvement of the access of the developing nations to the supplies of mineral as there is increase of their demand.    

Technical, ethical and social factors involved in sustained development

Technical factors

It is on technology that there is great reliance in solving the environmental problems. This is due to the virtually universal reluctance by governments and their advisors in making political and social changes in reducing the growth of consumption and production. Nonetheless, the kinds of technological changes needed in keeping up with and counteracting the environmental change that is growing that increased consumption and production have caused would be quite dramatic. There is no let going of the technological fixes of the past. The policies of sustainable development have sought in changing the economic growth’s nature rather than limiting it. They are based on the concept that it is possible in this finite world to have a continual growth through the technological power enabling the policy makers in finding the new sources or to have the provisions of alternatives if specific resources seemingly run out. The technology, otherwise, can help using and reusing what has been left in a manner that is most efficient.  The sustainable development tools, consumer pressures, legislative measures and economic instruments have the aim to achieve the technological change such as pollution control, change in processes of production, substitution of materials, waste minimization, recycling, and greater degree of efficiency in the resource usage.  

The British Pearce Report (Pearce et al., 1989) is suggestive of resource use which can be handled with the minimizing waste and recycling and that the minimization of damage to the environment is possible from the disposal of wastes. The low waste technology and conservation, product redesign, and recycling do interruption to the waste flows to these resources, and perhaps the sustainable development path’s major feature is this with respect to the economic progress. 

The sustainable development’s reliance has been on technological changes in achieving its aims, although the question remains whether the British government will be taking the tough steps needed in forcing radical technological innovation and not the technological fixes which are been seen to date. Such measures would need preparedness in bearing the economic costs of short term and a long term view while industry readjusts. 

The implementation of cleaner technology will not be able to reduce the pollution sufficiently. Cramer and Zegveld (1991) suggested that there will not be reduction in pollution if there is continual growth in production. In UK, by the year 2010, it was expected that average purchasing power would be increasing by 70 percent. However, the argument goes that the discharge level was reduced incredibly and that the realization of the waste flows per product unit has been in achieving aim of a sustainable society. However, Cramer and Zegveld (1991) argues that this cease to be realistic. The growth of both freely disposable income and production must be restricted to reduce the pollution.   

Ethical factors

Sustainability generally needs three goods and their balanced pursuit: economic welfare, social equity, and ecological health. These are based on the ethical commitment of carrying out the well being of contemporary populations as well as the increased opportunities of the future generations. The technical and scientific professions in this respect have a special responsibility as technologies and knowledge employed and developed by them have deep rooted impact on the empowerment of the societies and citizens, economies and natural environment. Further, their achievements and efforts can continue in producing effects, as ill or good, into the future.  

For the present generation, more technologically sophisticated and wealthier societies such as UK must be contributing materially and through a plethora of assistance programs in increasing the poorer nation’s wealth, in aiding them to develop the capability of providing their population with the basic needs. For future generations it indicates to ensure the availability of an array of resources: clean water and air, food, education, mineral, cultural resources, and natural resources, and genetic diversity along with various other supporting good life quality.      

Social factors

In United Kingdom, the sustainable development concept has become the basis of the mainstream policy thinking. Initially, sustainable development was defined as the development meeting present needs without the compromise of the future generation’s ability in meeting their own needs. As the current development trends continued, it eroded the base of the balanced development. There were development of the urban sustainable policies at the dynamic edge of several, and at times conflicting, objectives on the urban centers and their populations.  One main challenge to the modern cities is the requirement of ensuring ecological, social, and economic sustainability in the present time and in the long and medium time future (Finco and Nijkamp, 2001). In the recent time, various disciplinary scholars have discussed urban studies with social sustainability from the perspectives of both policy and academics. However, the scholars believe with respect to the sustainability’s social aspect that uncertainty remains with criteria, definition, and measurement system till now. The sustainability concept’s main focus is human, although attention given to social sustainability is less in environment disciplines.

In the discussions of urban social sustainability, the future processes and focus are the two attributes which are imperative in the usefulness and preciseness. The future focus indicates the improvement of a just society for both future and current generations. The future and current generations’ wellbeing is ensured in social sustainability with the recognition of every individual’s right of belonging and participation as their community’s valued member.   

Issues of controversy (from the perspective of policy makers)

Reduction and prevention of water and air pollution stand as a critical task for the policy makers in terms of resource conservation. The water and air quality come under pressure from activities such as the use of pesticide and fertilizer, fossil fuel burning, urban sewage, the usages of some specific chemicals, and a number of other activities. Each of these activities can be expected in increasing the pollution lead considerably on the biosphere, especially in the developing nations. To clean up following the events is a solution that is considerably expensive. Therefore, all nations including United Kingdom needs anticipating and preventing these problems of pollution. An example of this can be to enforce the emission standards reflecting the anticipation of the new wastes, technologies, and products, promotion and long term effects of low waste technologies.  

These tasks’ fulfillment requires the technological reorientation as a very important link between nature and humans. Firstly, the capacity for technological innovation requires to be vastly improved in the developing nations so their response is more effective to the sustainable developmental challenge. Secondly, the technological development’s orientation should be subject to change in paying more attention to the environmental factors (Yigitcanlar et al., 2008).

The industrial countries’ technologies are sometimes ill-suited or adaptable easily to the environmental and socio-economic conditions of the developing nations. The problem is compounded with the majority of the research and development of the world addressing some of the pressing issues that these nations are facing, such as control of tropical diseases or the arid-land agriculture. Adapting the recent innovations, not enough has been done in energy conservation, materials technology, and biotechnology and information technology to the developing nations’ needs. The gaps must be covered with the enhancement of development, design, research, and the Third World extension capabilities.  

In both developed and developing countries, the processes to generate alternate technologies, adapting and selecting imported technologies, and upgrade of the traditional technologies must be informed by the concerns of the environmental resource. The commercial organizations that carry out the technological research is devoted to process and product innovations having market value. There is need of the technologies producing ‘social goods’ such as increased product life or improved air quality, or which resolves problems that are external to the individual enterprises’ cost calculus such as external costs of waste disposal or pollution (Dempsey, 2009).

The public policy’s role is in ensuring, through disincentives and incentives, those commercial organizations are benefitted in taking into account the environmental factors in their developed technologies. The research institutions that are publicly funded needs those directions as well and the environmental protection and the sustainable development’s objectives should be created in those institutions’ mandates working in the environmentally sensitive areas.          

The developments of the technologies that are environmentally appropriate have close relation to the risk management questions. Such systems are mass transportation, communication systems, electric distribution networks, and nuclear reactors that have vulnerability if the stress is beyond a certain point. Because the networks connects them, they tend to develop immunity to small disturbances but having more vulnerability to the disruptions unexpected exceeding the finite threshold. Application of the vulnerabilities’ sophisticated analyses and past failures in designing technology, operational contingency plan, and manufacturing standards enables the consequence of accident or failure less catastrophic.

The best risk analysis and the vulnerability have not been subject to application across systems or technologies. A large system’s purpose must be making sabotage or failure consequences less serious. Therefore, there is need for new technologies and techniques and along with it are the institutional and legal mechanisms for control and safety design, provision of relief, damage mitigation, contingency planning, and prevention of accident.  

The arising of the environmental risk from the developmental and technological decisions intrude on the individuals and the areas having little or no influence in relation to those decisions. Their interests should be considered, there is need of the international and national mechanism in assessing the potential new technological impact before their wide ranging uses in ensuring their disposal, use, and production do not over stress environmental resources (Glaeser, 2013). There is requirement of similar arrangements in natural systems for major interventions such as, forest clearance or river division. Additionally, damages’ liabilities emanating from the unintended consequences should be subject to enforcement and strengthening.     

Recommendations

  1. A political system is needed for securing the participation of effective citizen in decision making

  2. An economic system is needed with the ability of generating technical knowledge and the surpluses on sustainable and self-reliant basis

  3. A social system is needed with provision of solutions for the tensions that arises from the development which is disharmonious

  4. A technological system is needed with the ability of continual searching for new solutions

  5. An international system fostering sustainable patterns of finance and trade, and

  6. An administrative system is needed having flexibility and having the self correction capacity 

These requirements have the features of goals which must be underlying international and national action on development. The most important aspect is the sincerity with which the pursuance of the goals takes place and the effectiveness with which the corrections are made with departures from them.    

References

Caragliu, A., del Bo, C. and Nijkamp, P. (2009) ‘Smart cities in Europe’, Journal of urban technology, 18 (2): 65-82.

Cramer, J. and Zegveld, W. C. L., (1991) ‘The Future Role of Technology in Environmental Management’, Futures, 23(5), pp. 461-2.

Dempsey, N. B. (2009) ‘The social dimension of sustainable development’, Sustainable Development, 19(5): 289-300.

Finco, A. and Nijkamp, P. (2001) ‘Pathways to urban sustainability’, Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning, 3: 289–302.

Glaeser, E. (2013) Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier, Penguin Press, New York.

Greenfield, A. (2013) Against the smart city, Do Projects, New York.

Hollands, R. G. (2008) ‘Will the real smart city please stand up?’, City, 12(3) (2008) 303-320.

Pearce, D., Markandya, A. and Barbier, E., (1989) Blueprint for a Green Economy, Earthscan, London.

Yigitcanlar, T., O’Connor, K. and Westerman, C. (2008) ‘The making of knowledge cities: Melbourne’s knowledge based urban development experience’, Cities, 25(2): 63-72.

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