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Sustainable Human Development

Sustainable Human Development


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By Galo Muñoz Arce

Sustainable development is a process of progressive change in the quality of life of the human being, which places it as the center and primary subject of development, through economic growth with social equity, the transformation of production methods and patterns of consumption that is based on the ecological balance and life support of the region.

This process implies respect for regional, national and local ethnic and cultural diversity, as well as strengthening and full citizen participation in harmonious coexistence with nature, without compromising and guaranteeing the quality of life of future generations.

Sustainable local development focuses on the search for the improvement of the quality of human life at the local level. It is built from the real role of people (families, children, producers, organizations and local institutions).

For sustainable local development to be a reality, the community must set its own objectives and goals, have confidence in the strength of the community itself, value and affirm the culture along with its own traditional knowledge and autonomous forms of coexistence.

The individualistic culture of commercial competition, low self-esteem, political and economic dependence on central institutions and external agents, lack of confidence in community management capacity, are among other obstacles to achieving sustainable local development.

Self-management and associativity

The real leadership of people and communities in the different spaces and areas is essential to promote development processes with amplified effects on the satisfaction of needs. In this sense, self-reliance is a form of equitable interdependence that encourages participation in decisions, social creativity, political autonomy, the fair distribution of wealth, and tolerance for the diversity of identities.

The strategy for sustainable local development includes individual and community ownership of common problems, the creation of organizations for participation and consultation (agreement between different actors assuming shared responsibilities).

Also part of the strategy is the joint management of resources and their rational use, as well as the promotion of the exercise of local power (as the case may be in municipalities, regiments and townships).

The resources for local development are those of the soil, vegetation, infrastructure, industries, institutions, local organizations, economic activities of the place and the professional staff that the community has or has access to. Other important resources are experiences in community management, as well as the ability to develop a culture of local power.

The agents that intervene in the process are the existing public institutions in the community, city halls, county committees, teachers, natural community leaders, and schoolchildren. In addition, trade union, union, religious organizations, NGOs existing in the area, whose orientation is related to sustainable community development.

Development and agroecology

There can be no development on a local human scale in the midst of depredated agricultural, social and economic systems or fundamental natural resources in extinction processes. The community must be very clear about what is positive and what is negative for the natural environment. Therefore, technologies must be promoted that adjust to the characteristics of each ecosystem, in such a way as to guarantee the sustainability of natural resources for the future.

A community that does not defend its resources, nor does it look after the natural environment, does not have the capacity to lead and improve its economy and life in the short, medium and long term. In this sense, agroecological practices are a substantial element in the maintenance of the environmental living conditions of the community, since it allows the sustainability of the sources of water, soils, flora and fauna; essential for the survival of the basins and community territories.

Transformation of gender relations

The integration of women in community participation allows them to know and share with men the responsibilities and experiences of the community in the search for alternatives to solving their problems, reaffirming their self-esteem.

Community development encourages the participation of women, because she is currently responsible for family reproduction: food, the custom of cooperation, solidarity and responsibility for the home. The management of shared community development allows men to recognize the equality and capacity of women in a new relationship not conditioned by sex or gender culture. The emancipation of women, the change in the macho identity of men as well as peace and cooperation in the home, allows the development of community and solidarity values


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