Ideologies and the challenges of achieving sustainability

The UN Sustainable Development Summit (PHOTO: UN)
The UN Sustainable Development Summit (PHOTO: UN)

By Bamidele Oni

The Expansionist vs The Ecologist

The move towards achieving sustainability brings to light the reality of the current state of the planet, the interference of human needs and the various schools of thoughts that have over time influenced the basis of global decisions.

One very interesting part in the global ideology towards achieving sustainability is the direct pitching of the age-long belief of development at all cost of the “expansion ideology and of the concerned believe of the “conservative ecologists”.

Another point to take note of again is the ever-conflicting objectives of both parties which in a way might never reach a point of overlapping.

This is well reflected in the great ideology division that is greatly evident in the world today. However, Considering the tipping point the world is right now, the possibility of reaching the point of compromise between both schools of thoughts looks inevitable.

This is such that the expansionists would consider the overly cost of development at the expense of dwindling non-renewable resources of the planet and the feedback on the stability of the planet. Then, the ecologists who are clamoring for a rather abrupt change, which does not look feasible would have to take the turn of developing a content of explanation on the benefits and the economic opportunity in the choice of sustainability.

Some Personal Reflection

On a personal note, the premise concerning the restructuring of the outlook on the sustainability agenda is well agreeable. For the fact that since the dawn of civilization, humans have constantly exploited the planet for its vast resources and its secondary potential. This in a way is only natural as the earth is such that is looked upon as a mother figure that must provide everything. So, over time the continuous insatiable needs of man have in a way subjected our motives solely towards expansion and more development.

In a way to be more objective, the impact of man has significantly risen in recent centuries because of the rising population which calls for more mouths to feed and more expansion into the natural world. According to the United Nations. The global world population as of today is around 7 billion and it is expected to rise further to about 9 billion in 2050. So, in a way, it could be well assumed that there was the necessity for the unchecked level of dependence.

The impact of the default exchange between the human components and the planet has reached a point of saturation and has resulted into a major problem for both the ecosystem and the human component and an imminent collapse of the system looks unavoidable.

However, several ecological problems manifesting now are collectively becoming a clog in the wheels of the possible and the seemly needed expansion of the world economy even as the population is rising. So, it has become a dispute between the two school of thoughts.

The present predicament calls for a possible change from business as usual. A rather good point to take note of is that despite the rate of development and economic drive, there still exists the great economic divide in the world. So, our drive to develop more economically has not been equivalent to solving a lot of problems. Invariably economic advancement does not necessarily mean growth.

The notion that there is the need to revisit(reform) many of the templates on which has over time been used to develop our current pattern of development is well supported, and the much talk about sustainability needs to be more objective enough as to accommodate the observation from a more detailed angle of the physical dimension.


The view of the expansionist must be taken into consideration and tailored to reflect the fact that more money and more technological feat can never substitute for the natural capital which can only be obtained from the natural resource stock of the planet.

So, to achieve sustainability, there must be a situation in which what goes into production is less than the available natural capital per time.  Collectively, we need to focus less on the material- and energy gulping activities and more on the needed improvement on the efficient adoption of materials and energy.

To the ecological conservatives, the aim of sustainable practice cannot just be overly imposed on the give and take the world. There is the need to have a common balance of scope in such a way that the potential economic opportunities in sustainability practices are well projected to encourage the expansion economists group that there is hope after all!