26 - 31 August 1992
SUMMARIZING COMMITTEE REPORT
II. The praxis of sustainable development
2.1 We affirm the concept of sustainable development, as that which seeks to provide an environment that promotes a life of dignity and well-being compatible with the continuation and integrity of supporting ecosystems. The concept includes the concern that material blessings should be available to successive generations as a fundamental God-given right. We note that beneath this concern lie absolutes of justice, equity and human responsibility which are not always expressed. Sustainable development cannot depend on the changing values and aspirations of succeeding generations, which may be in conflict with each other and with the divine will.
2.2 We noted the importance of the issue of population as part of care for the environment. This is an issue of culture rather than technology. Current methods of assessing the value of the environment fail to make adequate allowance for the value of the environment where it provides livelihoods.
We would urge a culture specific approach of promoting child-spacing, with due regard for the sanctity of human life, rather than the one-solution approach (of contraceptive techniques or abortion) advocated by some. We welcome the suggestion of providing for new parents non-contributory old age pensions, or life insurance for their progeny, to remove the incentive to have many children to provide for old age.
2.3 Over-consumption in the North can have a debilitating impact on countries of the South. Consumption of non-renewable resources in the North should be significantly reduced, by increasing recycling and reuse of materials, and by encouraging transition to less material-intensive technologies.
Poverty and degradation of creation
2.4 The evidence of growing numbers of poor people in the world is unmistakable, as is the evidence of the worsening condition of the creation contributing to and in part caused by poverty. We recognize that a fundamental cause of poverty is the sinful nature of humankind which manifests itself through violence, greed and self-interest overriding the God-given mandate to meet the needs of both the human and natural creation, and specifically of the poor. Human beings are interdependent with the rest of creation but distinctly unique in that they are made in the image of God. We believe that it is of equal importance when addressing the needs of creation to deal adequately with needs of the poor, and specifically to address world hunger.
2.5 In poor countries, sustainable development requires first and foremost addressing the following interrelated tasks: the establishment of a just and stable political power; economic development to provide jobs and alleviate poverty; capital investments in human development to stabilize populations and enable people to improve their well-being and their livelihoods; protection of God's creation, in large part by providing poor and landless peoples with alternatives to the over-exploitation of marginal lands; and support for improved development practices that are both appropriate within the culture and to the task.
For more information on evangelical perspectives and programs on sustainable economies and sustainable development, see:
- "Creation Care and Evangelical Relief and Development" by Calvin DeWitt (AERDO Occasional Paper #4)
- "The Stewardship of Creation in Service with the Poor" by Martin Price and Scott Sabin (AERDO Occasional Paper #6)