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The Politics Of Sustainable Development In The United Kingdom

The Politics Of Sustainable Development In The United Kingdom

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The Politics Of Sustainable Development In The United Kingdom

194 Seiten
1 Stunde
Jan 5, 2017


Since 'Sustainable Development' is a relatively new concept, the opportunity exists for both capitalists and socialists through the implementation of their policies, to help bring about a more sustainable future. This book endeavours to answer an old political question namely whether it is socialism or capitalism that can offer the best policies for a sustainable future here in the UK.

Sustainable development is of enormous interest to political parties because it attempts to answer the environmental, economic and social concerns of voters. These three areas constantly threaten and impact one another and history has taught us that finding solutions is not easy, yet find them we must.

Achieving a balance that adds to the quality of life without causing destruction of the environment has long been a goal of modern man. Whatever way we view the future it is clear that a change in culture is necessary, not only for individuals but also for governments in Europe and across the world who are in the process of conceding to global institutional change.

The rapidly increasing and ageing human population, the displacement of large populations due to war and famine, the growing concerns over climate change and the increasing loss of biodiversity should not only worry us it should motivate us to act more sustainably. But what is it that needs to be done differently?

This book aims to inform, what I hope will become a much larger debate, on how we find effective solutions to the problems that stand in the way of achieving a sustainable future for us all.

Jan 5, 2017

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The Politics Of Sustainable Development In The United Kingdom - Geraldine Bridgewater



Sustainable development engenders enormous political interest because it attempts to resolve the environmental, economic and social concerns of voters. Many citizens in the U.K. are of the opinion that development, although providing economic prosperity for some has done so at the expense of the environment and rural communities.

Globally demonstrations at the World Trade Centre in New York are a regular occurrence where unfortunately people are arrested because of their strong feelings for each other and the planet they live on and there is a strong emerging concern for a more equitable distribution of the world’s resources. I mention this because demonstrations are likely to increase as the impacts of climate change begin to unsettle nation states. As a result we are likely to see more political and economic unrest.

Governments and international institutions appear to be in agreement as to what needs to be done, to coin a phrase, ‘save the planet’ yet with all our knowledge and technology we still have not been able to make a real difference to improving the environmental social and economic wellbeing of our world. And despite our best efforts, many would argue that since 1992 things have got a lot worse. But why is that? Is it the fault of mankind? Or would climate change, loss of biodiversity, disease and famine have occurred anyway? Is the lack of sustainability or the reduction in the carrying capacity of the environment, a direct result of an exploding human population that can’t stop making war? Or is there another less complicated reason for the malfunction of our support and social systems?

I shall try and answer some of these questions by taking a historic view of how the UK has endeavoured to implement sustainable development during a period of rapid technological expansion. The period under review 1992 -2000 may seem a long time ago but I believe it holds valuable lessons for us now as we try in 2016 to keep up with what appears to be a rapidly deteriorating environment that we must, if we are to survive, put right.

If we accept that the drive for economic well-being may have over-ridden environmental or social concerns in the past we must ask how easy will it be in the future to give equal priority to all three areas? If indeed that is what sustainable development requires of us.

Sustainable development challenges us to consider new development paths and different approaches. For project planning the emphasis should be on multidisciplinary teams because they will have to deal with cross cutting issues. That this will demand a change in culture is clear not only for individuals but also for governments in Europe who are in the process of conceding to global institutional change. Therefore sustainable development is also about managing the process of making development sustainable and as we shall see, it’s the management of change that is so crucial to the successful outcome of government policies.

In this book, I will consider the political framework in which implementation has taken place and what the wider political implications might be for future generations. What follows is a discussion concerned with the questions of funding and appropriate resource allocations to ensure that sustainable development has a fair start. But in addition we may also consider whether the achievement of sustainable development challenges the contemporary view of democracy and the role of the two main political parties in the U.K.

It is not the intention to cover every policy and programme introduced by government during the period under review, but I will aim to cover the main international environmental agreements along with the national policies and programmes that they informed. I will also enquire whether the introduction of other policies has had an impact upon the government’s strategy for sustainable development. In doing so I hope to succeed in providing the reader with a balanced view on the challenges and obstacles that both parties have had to contend with. My conclusions will be informed from a variety of questions that I will aim to answer such as:-

1. If environmental conservation is a key component of sustainable development, what priority is given to it by the two main political parties?

2. Are politicians using the rhetoric of sustainable development to support their own individual agendas for change and if so, how does this add to or diminish from the opportunities to achieve sustainability in the U.K?

3. Central to the achievement of sustainable development is an important economic principle, but how does it progress the agenda for change?

4. If the concept of sustainable development means a better quality of life, how has government policy informed programmes to support the economy, environment and society at the grass root level?

5. Which political party can claim the most success in implementing programmes that lead to sustainable development?

6. What are the main concerns, hindrances and challenges that face humanity in the 21st century?

7. Do programmes for sustainable development meet the requirement of international agreements, conventions and protocols ratified at Rio or afterwards?

8. What are the obstacles if any, for effectively translating U.K. government policy into programmes that deliver sustainability at a local level?

9. How effective has the governments programme to implement Local Agenda 21 been and have local authorities been able to establish programmes that add to local sustainability within the community?

10. Do the policies of government confirm social democracy as a vision or a reality and what is the effect on sustainable development at a local level?

11. What are the real concerns and priorities for achieving sustainable development and are they being addressed?

12. Is the environment getting a fair share of the cake in terms of project funding or is the economy still viewed as being more important?

Chapter 1

The History of Sustainable Development

Sustainable development can be a difficult subject to understand because it challenges us to consider new ways of thinking and doing. It also requires that we do not put ourselves at the centre of benefits accrued but consider the wider impact upon all life on the planet, now and in the future. Sustainable development is; ‘Development that meets the needs of current generations without affecting the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.’ (Brundtland; Gro Harlem, 1987 Our Common Future)

The concept of sustainable development in the UK has provided a very efficient vehicle for two rival political parties to transport their own political philosophy and accompanying rhetoric into action. But have the parties remained faithful to their own historic view-point of how the world should be managed or have they adapted their political philosophy to more readily cope with the challenges that sustainable development presents? Sustainable development offers both parties the opportunity to compromise, was it taken or ignored? Before we attempt to answer these questions and many more it might be useful to consider the historic background of the two political parties whose job, while in government, was to implement the UK’s strategy for sustainable development.

The British were responsible for creating designing and developing various modes of production that facilitated the global market economy. Today’s modern global economic development pattern follows on from a model of development that began during the industrial revolution of the 18C and it was perhaps the starting point from which all modern development in the world followed. It was to be accompanied by class struggles as various groups in society fought for their rights and freedom and for more of the new found wealth. It was the start of the battle between those that have and those that do not. A battle that many would say is the reason for making all future development sustainable. It can be argued that the environment has suffered at the hands of the economy ever since man made his first tool. But it is since the industrial revolution that the environment has really started to become vulnerable. The industrial revolution was accompanied by a social revolution in the 1900’s from which emerged the two major political parties that we have with us today, namely Conservative and Labour.

The Conservatives and Capitalism

The wealthy middle class capitalists were producers of a new process called manufacturing (using machinery to make new products out of basic raw materials and commodities) the capitalists made profit out of human labour, established new exchanges and commodity markets to trade import and export their goods. They lobbied for new laws, established exchange rates and insurance provisions. Extended forms of communication helped further industrial development and the exchange of ideas led to more research in the sciences and important discoveries were made.

This was the era of new inventions, such as the steam-engine, the printing press, electricity, radio and telephone. They had a dramatic impact on the way people lived and worked. The coal, textile, paper, and farming industries all thrived and the population expanded. But continued economic progress demanded tremendous organisational skills and forward planning. Industry was labour- intensive and therefore dependent upon the establishment of good social relations and the continued need to maintain effective organisational control and secure the workforce to the area of labour. Whole towns and cities established themselves around particular industries and the increasing population created even more demand for market based goods. But while many had the opportunity to improve their lot, many did not and the gap between the rich and poor grew.

The capitalists were in the main Tories who believed in making as much profit as possible. So while the economy and some of the people prospered the environment and some in society did not. The environment became degraded mainly from disposal of waste with resulting pollution to land air and water. Unfortunately this was accepted as a necessary evil. Even Karl

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