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 Unit 1: Session II: Nature of Sustainable Development

In Session II, Nature of Sustainable Development, we focus on how sustainable development approaches alter the mind set and create new opportunities. We see how it alters behavior in every facet of life and in so doing make the transition to a sustainable way of life possible.

On completion of this unit you should be able:

1. To provide the overview of the concept of sustainable development.
2. To identify trends that help to promote healthy lifestyles.
3. To discover creative ways to conservatively exist and co-exist.
4. To analyze the merits of collaboration in achieving sustainable development.


Planning for Sustainable Development in the Caribbean
Edited by Asad Mohammed and Dennis Pantin
Port of Spain - Trinidad - 1994
"Perspectives on Sustainable Development" - Angela Cropper

 UNIT 1: Session II: The Nature of Sustainable Development

Sustainable Development considerations encourage the concept of more for less, reduction of waste, use of alternatives, quality over quantity, holistic rather than linear approaches, use of brain rather than brawn, integrated planning and diversity rather than the development of mono cultures.

If development is to take place information about the natural and human ecosystem must be readily available. Information is fundamental to development processes as it has the potential to change behavior, alter the nature of dialogue and communication, and ultimately influence action. Information about what we have, its nature, value and how it can be used is a critical first step to enabling greater development. The resource assessment process therefore establishes two major ingredients to the development process: It gathers data and information which is analyzed, evaluated and used for decision-making, and promotes a process of dialogue and communication that gives members something constructive to talk about. It initiates and promotes cooperation, and places individuals, communities and institutions on the path to informed decision making.

The effectiveness of the system of storage and the ease of access, retrieval and dissemination of information is a key factor in determining the pace of development. Databases range from purely manually created libraries of information to computerized systems and the Internet.

The information resource is the new utility essential for community development. How it is used and how one develops the propensity to gather and apply information and knowledge is the subject of Education and Training.

Emerging educational technologies of facilitators, hardware, software and manipulative, and, curricula, methods and practices, are adaptive in nature and promote learner centered and group centered processes.

 How do these systems impact the development process?

First, these systems provide for the acquisition of basic learning skills and the development of cognitive, affective and life skills, essential to production and performance.

Second, group programs consisting of well designed projects, support inter-dependent, inter-disciplinary, inter-cultural, inter-generational and multi-age and multi-disciplinary learning experiences where outcomes of these projects are dependent on the contributions from each member of the group and their ability for teamwork and cooperation.

The adaptive approaches are participatory processes that encourage feedback, dialogue and diversity of opinions. These models cater to the needs of individual learners adapting in accordance with pace of learning, background and experience, learning styles, curiosity and the need to advance. These systems can be delivered via affordable local and global on-line services supported by Internet browsers and are used to facilitate research and project development.

The global tele-communication system, the information highway, facilitates the delivery of instructional and related support material to classrooms, homes, communities and businesses. Educational products of this nature include engaging course ware, aimed at addressing different stages of the development of the learner at the levels of pre-school, kindergarten, primary, secondary, tertiary and vocational training. These complement traditional methods of learning, but, over time these products will improve to ultimately dominate the educational system.


1. Visit the World Wide Web and search for examples of course ware designed for a school and grade level of your choice.

2. Share your findings with the members of your group.


If sustainable development is to take place at the community level, several ingredients must be present. They include:

1. communication linkages at an affordable price;
2. access to information, knowledge and expertise;
3. effective education and training systems for widening ranges of skills;
4. knowledge of and access to new approaches and technologies;
5. new and innovative tools, services, and processes;
6. a culture for global competitiveness that respects the need for quality, efficiency and price performance.

Communication Services
Real Time Communication Systems are phenomenal.

Do you remember when the world viewed the US-Iraq war "live" on television, commencing with the first bomb that was dropped?

The news was carried as it happened. With real time systems opportunities appear out of seemingly insignificant events creating a real-time global environment where speed is important and instant response means the difference between opportunities gained or lost.

New and emerging telecommunication systems provide tools and management systems for schools, communities, businesses, local and central government; a range of services that bring buyers and sellers together and promote local products, services, and events. They also offer delivery systems that inform, educate and entertain, and to have the capacity to transfer ideas, know-how, skills and technology. These tools and systems include local wireless telephony, connectivity between homes, cable systems, e-mail, voice mail, fax, paging, remote sensing (security and emergency), and local and global on-line services.

At the hub of the systems, is the community library and database stored in accessible form. Together they provide infinite vocational possibilities, opportunities for self employment, and support for persons to work from home providing services to clients anywhere, and at any time.

If education is a primary focus for small island states, then it is reasonable that Caribbean's wealth of academia and history of scholarship should seek to develop an educational and instructional delivery system based on the expectations and dictates of the global environment. Planning must be carried out in the context of our lives and living, our strength of history, culture and heritage, our ethnic diversity and the diversity of eco-systems. In doing so, we galvanize entire educational communities, students, teachers, and parents in the most diverse, challenging and economically viable process of development in which each contribute their capital of brain power to transform whole bureaucracy into an effective units of production that innovates, creates, produces and delivers the most effective educational system to our people.

This is a win win situation for software development in that it combines a variety of talents which are harnessed to create effective tools for learning at all levels. Skilled workers include software designers and developers of learning systems(course ware), manufacturers of manipulatives, hardware and software, creators of interdisciplinary lesson plans, illustrators and animators, writers of reference materials and a host of other knowledge workers and management personnel carrying out management functions.

Economic Services
Economic support systems provide services for businesses, facilitate desktop manufacturing, geographic and environmental information systems, agricultural information and extension services, new business development tools, import-export services and systems, computer technology, network support systems and services, financial services, marketing and reservation systems, health information and services, jobs and other special training. It also provides job opportunities and careers in maintenance of data banks, and security systems in central and local government organizations.

Financial Services
In the same way the nature of capital has been transformed, the nature of money has evolved from finite gold, coins, paper and plastic cards, to electronic transfers "untouched by human hands". These all represent claims on available funds credited to an account stored in electronic intangible form at an unknown location. The mobility of capital on a global scale, the movement of funds from abroad to local families and friends, can take place instantly thereby providing a fast track for completion of transactions. On a large national scale, any sudden shift in confidence can bring about rapid re-deployment of capital to ruin or save economies.

Information Services
Information services can now be delivered from anywhere, e.g. home, school, community, having a connection to the world wide web. These include Internet services, website design and maintenance services, graphics and illustration services, tele-marketing and reservations services, information research and provision of related services, for example, documentation and editing services, documentary and interpretive services, and, translation and interpretation services, to name a few.

The widespread use of computers by businesses and individuals will facilitate changes in how information is delivered, providing for customized newspaper, special publishing in commerce, example catalogues, educational material in arts, science, technology and sports, and multi-media publications, advertising and infomercials.

The information age provides an efficient way to develop and market entertainment products. This is the story telling age in which writers of tales, folklore and of experiences, history, culture and heritage have at their disposal effective tools to maximize output.

Small island states of the Caribbean must recognize the new resources of technology and apply them to research and record their rich cultural heritage of music, songs, folklore, drama, dance and comedy. On this basis communities can build exciting multi media products, create electronic games, broadcast virtual reality tours and support on-line shopping and sales.

One of the greatest challenges to development is faced by the agricultural sector in small economies as population rises and the markets for ethnic foods expands. Bio-intensive techniques can increase production outcomes substantially, reduce water consumption per unit, reduce other farm inputs substantially and double net farm income per unit area. Some systems go further to combine agriculture with aqua culture to achieve very high yields of foods calories and protein from very small areas.

For too long Caribbean countries have been content to research and archive processes for adding value to agricultural primary products. The time has come to reach for these formulae and designs, and install agro processing plants for adding value to our produce and lower the risk associated with marketing. But the gains to be made from revolution in agricultural techniques cannot be realized if profits are drained by high costs of inputs and transportation and the lack of a cost effective tele-communication system that is readily accessible to the farmers.

Sustainable Development Strategies in the context of tourism focus on quality. They promote an emphasis in niche markets of community, eco-, cultural and heritage tourism. The by- products of this approach are many. They include: improvement in the distribution of benefits; development of cultural related skills to research, write, inform, illustrate, interpret, and entertain; establish linkages to develop efficiencies in education, business, community and the national economy.

Technology-based Services
The world's dependence on a growing library of computer software and computer related technology based gadgets, appliances, motor vehicles and other domestic and industrial systems has grown substantially in recent times. The support and maintenance of these provide new high quality job opportunities within the field of electronics. These require knowledgeable persons who are self starters and talented in several aspects of computer technology. These include trouble shooting and problem-solving and a fix it mentality.

Technology-based Systems
Perhaps more importantly is the opportunity to be creative and innovative and develop new computer technology based hardware and software to do specialized tasks for local use and for export. These projects may include Computer Assisted Design & Computer Assisted Manufacture programs, renewable energy programs, new instrument of measurement of any kind, support systems for bio-intensive agriculture, new software to support sustainable development, hardware and software for entertainment, education and information distribution.

Information Technology
Emerging new technologies demand fundamental change in the way we think, communicate and relate, educate and train, and, produce and perform. New technologies are small, mobile and friendly, provoke hopes rather than fears even though their introduction promises more far-reaching social effects than previous technological advances. These changes offered of the information age are of a different order and nature. They herald the ultimate age of the human experience stage of human evolution.

The infusion of technology is inevitable. Small economies without technology are relegated to the backwaters of progress. Its potentially productive role should be quickly realized and adopted as a positive prescriptive goal by local community and national planners. By embracing new technology we are better able to define the terms on which we can use them to shape our future and stake our claim on our share of the global economy.

There is an opportunity for coherent development of sophisticated ecologically based projects of social and economic development. Individuals, small groups and communities can use technology in the production, dissemination of information, provision of services and in the promotion of their own goals. This opportunity must not be wasted.