To what extent do you consider the concept and principles of sustainable development to be of use to environmental managers?

Essay by raffboneUniversity, Bachelor's December 2005

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The concept of sustainable development is a source of much confusion and disagreement between authorities and individual experts. Although the principles of sustainable development are interpreted similarly by these separate groups, the views of how to reach the desired outcome can cause great disorder between the different bodies. Broad opinions of what is actually needed to achieve sustainability have slowed down the process of attaining it. The word development in itself could simply be defined as an act of evolving through expanding, enlarging or refining. But with the public taking increasing notice of environmental disasters and looking further into the future, simply expanding and enlarging is not enough; making sure that we can continue to develop in the future is imperative.

As sustainable development is not a physical action, but more of a guide to what action needs to be taken, much debate and controversy has come from all sides about many principles and conclusions as to what procedures should be undertaken.

Few policies for risk management have created as much disagreement as the Precautionary Principle ( The precautionary principle could be simplified as the idea that if the outcome of an action or actions is unknown, but are estimated to have the potential for irreparable destructive end results, then it is important to avoid or take an alternative action. This principle is of benefit to environmental managers as it prevents potentially disastrous actions being undertaken. One of the reasons scientists argue against using this principle is that although the idea to not take potentially negative action has the possibility of preventing a disaster, as a policy tool, is its extreme variability in interpretation. There is also the dispute that environmental conservationist take swift and drastic action before any scientific evidence has been put forward. Others state that when enforced...