Sustainable development – missing the point in New Brunswick?

Sustainable development definition
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sustainable development is a process of developing (land, cities, business, communities, etc) that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” according to the Brundtland Report, a 1987 report from the United Nations.

One of the factors which it must overcome is environmental degradation but it must do so while not forgoing the needs of economic development as well as social equity and justice.

Several United Nations texts, most recently the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document, refer to the “interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars” of sustainable development as economic development, social development, and environmental protection.

For some, the issue is considered to be closely tied to economic growth and the need to find ways to expand the economy in the long term without using up natural capital for current growth at the cost of long term growth. For others, the concept of growth itself is problematic, as the resources of the Earth are finite.

The 2005 UK Sustainable Development Strategy has the objective of enabling all people throughout the world to satisfy their basic needs and enjoy a better quality of life, without compromising the quality of life of future generations.

Now, the question for those focused on sustainable development in New Brunswick, isn’t it inherent in the definition that there will actually be development? Actually be people here in the future? Otherwise, shouldn’t we have an ‘eat, drink and be merry’ attitude towards the province?

Sorry to be cynical but a colleague of mine was asked to sit in on a roundtable about sustainable development. He tells me that he will be asking if the sustainability of the economy and actual people in New Brunswick communities will be part of the discussion. His hunch, and mine, is that sustainable development in Canada is now more about environmentally-friendly tactics than about ‘development’. So we’ll get harbour cleanups, river restorations, recycling and emission reductions – just no guarantee that there will be people here to enjoy them.

Don’t forget Parrsboro, Nova Scotia, folks. It was porportionately the size of Moncton 100 years ago and a regional trade, transportation and manufacturing hub. Drive down that way today.

Will that be the fate of Moncton? Of Saint John? No way, you say? Consider Campbellton. It lost 7.2% of its population in five years from 1996 to 2001 and you can expect another similar decline from 2001-2006. And the rate of decline is accelerating so by 2050, there will be nobody left up there.

Economic development, my friends, isn’t some line item on a government budget somewhere. It’s more critical to the future of these communities than any other expenditure – and it’s the one getting slashed.

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0 Responses to Sustainable development – missing the point in New Brunswick?

  1. Anonymous says:

    I wasn’t aware that anybody was looking at ‘sustainable development’ in New Brunswick. They’re keeping well hid.

    ‘Development’ can be defined in a number of ways though. ‘Economic’ development can be opposed too ‘sustainable’ development, it just depends how you define it.

    Cleaning up the Saint John harbour is not ‘development’ per se, it is simply what it is-cleaning up a massive amount of pollution.

    It CAN be ‘economic’ since, say, you hire people to clean it up and you hire people and companies to install and regulate waste water.

    The impact of that may well be that more tourists will come to that particular area, if they actually spend money, and their Mayor stops being a prick and raising vendor licenses by 200% and people could actually make a bit of a living there.

    So that IS economic development, but that is just the side benefit of the main reason it’s done, which is to stop polluting the hell out of the environment.

    Clearly the ‘cleanup’ is an economic endevour and is the main reason it isn’t done-governments don’t have the money, the market sees no economic gain in it, and the voting population is usually isolated away from it in the suburbs.

    In New Brunswick any ’roundtable’ discussions on such things are clearly window dressing. There are virtually no organizations working in this area in the province, and those that are, have their backs to the wall.

    Forestry is a perfect example. There are countries all over the world practising healthy forestry initiatives, and plenty that aren’t. Even in Canada there are huge differences. Because the maritime logging industry is essentially privatized, they weren’t included in the US trade war. Now, we can note that BC is making waves, even though they have a gung ho free marketeer as Premier, that they might use the notwithstanding clause to back out of the new agreement. Ontario is similarly unimpressed.

    Take a look at power, there is almost no conversations about renewable resources, even though its been proven that they are not only safer, they are also cheaper. And not just in the long run. But nuclear is the way its going, and just try to find a politician who even mentions otherwise.

    So you are quite right, in a province where we can’t even develop economic development, sustainable development is nowhere in sight. The province has been polluted and poisoned so badly, that any attempts at cleanup will doubtless be called ‘sustainable development’, that doesn’t mean they are. We got massive clearcuts on the horizon for our forests, which will devastate tourism, wreck soil compositions, increase flooding, lower the water table, and is against the recommendations of the governments own scientists.

    All just so a couple of multinationals can continue to rape the landscape in an economic venture that even they say is not profitable.

    Clearly ‘sustainable development’ is nowhere in the picture. Even the Fundy Model Forest is being phased out this year, thousands of small woodlot owners will be thrown out of work.

    As far as I can see the wind turbines on Grand Manan are the only venture in sustainable development actually being done.