The Report further points out that economic growth increases total amount of resource use while at the same time also results in increased human intervention in natural cycles besides emphasising on energy intensive growth.
While discussing survival the Report points out the vulnerability of human survival due to threats like green house gases, radioactivity, toxic wastes etc. Finally, the Report points out that environmental degradation also results in the slowing down, and often reversal, of economic growth and development leading to economic crisis.
Similarly Agenda 21 points out the necessity of achieving sustainable development at every level of society. People’s organisation, women’s group and non-governmental organisations are identified as important source of innovation and action at the local level having a strong interest and proven ability to promote sustainable livelihood.
It further asserts that governments in cooperation with Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) should support a community driven approach to sustainability, which can give communities a large measure of participation in sustainable management and protection of the local natural resources in order to enhance their productive capacity.
It stresses on the necessity to take special measures to empower women through full participation in decision making, and of promoting sharing of experience and knowledge between communities. This Conference triggered a lively debate on the concept of sustainable development which had become a buzzword and was used by authors and critics belonging to all schools of thought almost universally.
It was argued that the concept of sustainable development had proven to be quite ambiguous due to its conceptual and ideological similarities with mainstream view. This perhaps was due to the fact that the top priority accorded by the strategic imperatives was for economic growth (“reviving growth”) or development rather than shifting the focus from there and placing it on environment.
The goal again remained the same, i.e., rapid industrialisation with modernisation. The assumption again remained the same, that the benefits of growth would trickle down and produce a similar growth in other sectors of the economy, which would absorb the surplus labour through creating non-skilled jobs in abundance.
This would in turn tackle the problem of inequality and poverty. This model of growth is a shift from the earlier model of mixed economy only to an extent that State’s role in administration and allocation of resources in various sectors of the economy has to be substituted by the market mechanism with the corollary of minimising the resource-base of the State.
The State is supposed to lay the market rules, ensure their operation and intervene only in case of their violation or in case of market failure. This has also resulted in drastic cuts in social expenditure and has diminished subsidies. In the context of agriculture and rural development, this model emphasises commercialised and export oriented agriculture economy.
Even in the food grain sector, the target, and accordingly, the policies, is designed to meet the food security of the country rather than the food security at the household level, especially of the marginalised social categories. The WECD report and subsequent other reports provide an insightful diagnosis of the interconnected environ-development crisis. It is clearly recognised by all the reports that there is a close linkage between poverty and unsustainable use of resources, but when it comes to solutions it does not go much beyond conventional ideas and methods.