What is development?
To bring out the capabilities or possibilities of, to bring to a more advanced or effective state

Talking Points
  • Not growth
  • To improve, make better

Development means to make something better than it was, to improve. Notice that development does not mean growth. We all grow as children, but then we reach a certain age and stop growing. However, we don't stop developing just because we have stopped growing--we go back to school, we learn a new trade or hobby, we go new places, make new friends. This is what sustainable development is all about--changing and making better.

We live on a world with a certain amount of resources: air, water, energy, materials, and land. An example that many people will understand is that of a small island community: There is a limit to the number of people that can fit on the island and to the amount of the island's resources that those people can consume. One example is the island of Haiti where the need for fuel has completely deforested the island. We are all living on an island called Earth and we need to develop or improve our individual and global communities without using up or wearing out the resources that we have.

(Note that the difference between "growth" and "development" is a difficult but very important concept for people to understand in order to make progress towards sustainability. One comment some people may make is that growth is good as long as it is "quality" growth. However, people need to realize that all growth is finite. A small town can only grow so much before it ceases to be a town and becomes a small city. Small cities that grow become large cities. If a community likes its "small town feeling" then the community needs to acknowledge that growth must stop at some point in order to preserve that feeling.)
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Copyright © 1998 Maureen Hart. All rights reserved.