Sustainable Resource Management refers to the sustainable use of resources so that they are not completely depleted. Sustainable resources are those resources that can be used repetitively without their source being depleted. Examples include all renewable forms of energy such as solar, wind, hydropower, etc. Sustainable Resource Management involves the use of economics to create a system that satisfies the needs of the present while also taking into account the needs of the future. Sustainable Resource Management requires the implementation of sustainable practices in all fields of daily life like agriculture, society, business, personal life, etc.
Concept of Sustainability
There is no single universal definition of sustainability. There exist different perspectives on what sustainability is and how it should be achieved. If we break the word ‘sustainability’ right down to its basic structure, ‘sustain’ means to support or to assist. Therefore, ‘sustainable’ means something that is capable of being continued at a particular rate. ‘Sustainability’ is referred to as processes that are undertaken to keep something at a certain level. In today’s context, sustainability is a popular term used to define conservation practices to keep the environment, biodiversity, and natural resources away from destruction. The three pillars of sustainability are:
Sustainability cannot be achieved without the proper balance between the three pillars mentioned above. When properly balanced, the elements of sustainability can motivate governments and business leaders to make environmentally acceptable commitments.
Sustainability of Society
Society is highly dependent on a constant supply of energy. Therefore, sustainable development of societies is possible only if they implement environmentally compatible and acceptable practices. A sustainable society is one that does not cause damage to the environment and does not over-consume resources. Therefore, such a society is capable of preserving beautiful, healthy earth that is habitable even for future generations.
The idea of a sustainable society is extremely simple. However, the building of that sustainable society is a challenge. It requires a radical shift in the mindset of members of society. People need to understand that we cannot continuously keep taking from our planet. We need to be adding to it too. The Sustainability of societies can be achieved when its members know and appreciate the value of the Earth, its environment, and its resources. A sustainable society should ideally contain the following qualities:
- Power and energy supply from 100% renewable sources.
- A high standard of living in a carbon-neutral environment.
- A commitment of society members to a healthy, clean environment with thriving biodiversity.
Resources and Framework
The framework for the governance of natural resources refers to processes that determine who has power over natural resources and the limit of that power. It also decides how local communities and indigenous people participate in resource management and the benefits they get from it. When the sharing of power and responsibilities is built into the framework of resource management, both people and biodiversity can benefit. Therefore, a strong framework for governance is needed to lay the foundation for a just world whose focus is on the conservation of nature and sustainable development.
The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nation) has proposed the Natural Resource Governance Framework (NRGF). The purpose of NRGF is to assess and strengthen natural resource governance from different perspectives and at different levels. The goal of NRGF includes:
- Setting standards for decision-makers to make better decisions regarding the use of natural resources.
- The implementation of good governance principles that enhances sustainability and preservation of ecosystems.
Sustainable Energy Strategy
There are three key principles that sustainable energy strategies contain:
- Saving energy at the site of demand.
- Efficiently improving the production of energy.
- Replacing fossil fuels with different sources of renewable energy.
Consequently, the large-scale implementation of renewable energy must include systems that efficiently make use of the energy.
The first major challenge is to increase the supply of renewable energy. Currently, only 15% of the world’s primary energy supply comes from renewable sources. However, there has been substantial growth in the past few years of the share of renewable energy. Let’s look at Denmark as an example. Since the country’s first oil crisis in 1973, improvements in savings and efficiency of energy have been an integral part of Denmark’s energy policy. 14% of the country’s fossil fuels have been replaced by renewable energy. Thus, Denmark is an example of how a combination of improvements in efficiency, energy savings, and renewable energy can be implemented as a part of a sustainable energy strategy.
Principles of Energy Conservation
The conservation of energy is defined as steps undertaken to reduce the consumption of energy from a particular source, especially if the source is non-renewable. Energy conservation plays a critical role in sustainability. Energy conservation is placed right at the top of the hierarchy of sustainable energy. It reduces the future cost of energy by ensuring that energy sources today are not depleted. On a regional level, conservation of energy can be achieved by:
- Technological upgrades to improve efficiency.
- Maintenance and monitoring.
- Reducing waste and losses.
On a global scale, the use and supply of energy can be minimized by stable population growth.
Energy can be conserved in households by practicing the following steps:
- Fixing leaks in refrigerators or air conditioners. A leak means that more energy is used to run the appliance. Fixing the leak will ensure that the appliance uses a minimum amount of energy.
- Use daylight as much as possible. Switch off lights in your home during the daytime.
- Walk more, drive less. Not only does walking decrease your carbon footprint, but it is also a form of exercise that will keep you healthy. If you have to use a vehicle to go somewhere, opt for public transport services like trains and buses instead of using your private vehicle.
- If you’re not using an appliance, turn it off. Appliances like desktop computers and coffee machines use energy even when not in use. Therefore, if no one is using the appliance, it should be turned off.
The author has done a master's in Environmental science and is currently working as chief Environmental Advisor with New Delhi State Government.
View all posts