The Brundtland Report
"Our common future", report of the
Brundtland Committee on environment and development, has been
published in 1987.
"Sustainable Development meets the needs of the
present without compromising the ability of future generations to
meet their own needs."
"Our Common Future" opens by
presenting a global challenge: the survival of the environment.
The only possible answer to this challenge, faced by present
generations, is by adopting a "sustainable" development model.
As said in the main text, "sustainable development" must fulfil
the needs of the current generation without compromising the ability
of future generations to fulfil theirs. Here we present the major
points of the Report, a major reference text for this issue.
Sustainable development is not a definite situation of harmony,
but rather a process of change. Resources, investments,
technological advancements and institutional changes must be
coherent with future as with present needs.
development implies the fulfilment of our needs and it extends the
possibility of achieve ones' aspirations for a better life. However,
there is a too optimistic belief in the potential of technology to
bring about a new era of economic growth. The limits of sustainable
development are not absolute, but they are rather dictated by the
level of technology and of social organisation of economic resources
and by the potential of the biosphere to absorb the effects of human
activity. In the Report we read that technology and social
organisation can be managed and improved in such a way to have a new
era of economic growth. We will see how this optimistic assumption
is not shared by all, especially by the supporters of strong
We would also like to underline one
particular aspect that brings the concept of sustainable development
closer to that of human development: collective participation. The
fulfilment of basic needs does not only imply a new era of economic
growth for countries where the majority is poor, but also the
guarantee that these poor have their fair share in the necessary
resources to sustain growth. Such equity should be aided both by
political systems assuring an effective participation of citizens to
the decision-making process and by an increased level of democracy
in international decisions.
The Report is divided into three
main sections, one for each of mankind's challenges:
1) Common worries
A threatened future
The role of international economics
Section 2) Collective challenges
Food security: supporting the potentials
Species and ecosystems: resources for development
Energy: choices for environment and development
produce more with less
The urban problem
Management of common international goods
Peace, security, development, environment
The paper concludes with the code for
environmental protection and sustainable development.