Why Is Sustainable Development Important?
Back in 1987, the term "sustainability" was coined by the World Commission on Environment and Development to refer to actions that can satisfy the needs of the present generation without jeopardizing the wellbeing of the generations to come.
However, despite being aware of the fact that there is no future without sustainability, we have done little to adhere to its principles to this day.
Sustainable development refers to all segments of society, particularly environmental protection and all human activities that have an impact on the environment.
Humans are becoming increasingly aware of the fact that the survival of the living world on Earth is connected with the preservation of natural resources and, as a result, we are faced with many environmental challenges.
Based on the above-mentioned, here is a comprehensive definition of sustainable development: “Sustainable development entails integrated development of economy, technology, social and cultural sphere that is in line with the need to protect and improve the environment and enable the present and future generations to fulfil their needs and improve the quality of their lives”.
Civil engineering and architecture have no future without sustainability because their influence on the environment is enormous through various segments of their application.
Economic development increased construction material production, and the number of residential, business and industrial objects skyrocketed. This, of course, resulted in an increase of building land and, ultimately, impacted the global ecosystem.
Therefore, assuming responsibility for the impact of civil engineering and architecture on the environment is of vital importance for the well-being of future generations.
Each newly-built object has an impact on the environment since the very beginning of construction works due to various activities and processes, which can sometimes be quite negative (construction material production, transport, the construction phase itself, material assembly, etc.).
Also, the construction works produce waste and noise pollution, which also leave a huge mark on the environment.
The environmental impact of the objects is not limited to the construction stage.
On the contrary, it continues for as long as the objects serve the intended purposes and even afterwards (if they’re no longer in use or have been left unfinished for some reason), in which case the environmental impact is extremely negative.
Why is that the case? Because, if we fail to recycle such an object (by either reconstructing/repurposing it or demolishing and fully recycling it), all resources invested in the production, transport, assembly and maintenance can be considered a pure loss and a continuous source of negative consequences for the environment.
However, a sustainable approach/design can reduce the use of non-renewable resources, promote the use of renewable energy sources, contribute to waste minimisation and lead to a healthier and more sustainable living and working environment.
The principle of sustainable architecture and civil engineering entails planned distribution of building land, the use of environmentally friendly materials, rational water and energy exploitation, optimisation of object use and maintenance and the improvement of living and working conditions within the object.
Sustainable development is also a key approach to be taken in other areas of human activity, such as agriculture, tourism, economy, sociology and culture.
In conclusion, I would like to point out once again that there is no future without sustainability in all segments of society and all social activities.
Author: Nataša Komljenović, graduate architect
activist of the movement "Let's defend the rivers of Stara planina"