In line with the United Nations (UN) vision 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in all ramification, there has been a triple bottom line between the economic, environmental and social sustainability of infrastructural projects. Over the years, the united Nation endorsed the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change (IPCC) which was established in the year 1988 by the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) and the World Metrological organisation (WMO). Beyond all reasonable doubts, the IPCC through its assessments over the years, understood the scientific basis of risk of human-induced Climate Change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and relief. This lead to a sustainability summit held in Rio June, 2012. The summit was a follow up to the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). The focus of Sustainability is to help improve humanity in the nearest future. Here we look at ways in which these three components of sustainability (Economic, Environmental and social) intertwines with each other as a major role and well stated examples for each components.
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The triple bottom line indeed ensures that there is a balance in the economic, environmental and social sustainability of recent infrastructural projects. Let’s start with the Economic Sustainability of Infrastructural projects. This reflects more on the economic sustainability of the economy. Here we look at ways in which all recent infrastructural projects of any sort are being carried out sustainably to satisfy the present levels of consumption of raw materials for infrastructural projects and without altering the future needs. A growth in the economic sustainability of infrastructural projects will be demanding of the society to generate conditions that allow people to have quality jobs that encourage the economy while not sabotaging the environment. For example if we lay our emphasis on the sustainability of traffic management, transport planning and road safety of infrastructural designs of road projects, there can be an extension for more open spaces for greens as a safeguard in times of an emergency and for recreational activities, also there can be an increase in the integrated bus systems in both urban and rural developments, introducing more poverty alleviation schemes by developing subsidized buildings in government infrastructures, enhance bus transits in a more cheaper and faster way both in urban and rural settlements, introducing lanes for both pedestrians and cyclist in pavement designs thereby encouraging more cyclist and also reducing the use of automobiles. Same goes with the planning and designs of residential and commercial buildings sustainably. There should be a mixture of residential buildings and commercial malls there by increasing commitments to trade which will also help increase productivity and the economy. This also encourages the masses to easily access and cut down the use of automobiles and burning of fossils.
Furthermore, there should be a cutdown on industrial infrastructures with high emissions and encourage a low industrial emission zone within the environment. Economically we also look at how waste management of a country can be dealt with. Waste has a lot to do with the environment but it takes countries with huge economic resource to be able to have a process of reducing, reusing and also recycling these wastes.
On the other hand, environmental sustainability of infrastructural projects will have to lay more emphasis on how the present infrastructural projects will be executed without altering or destroying the environment itself. This is also a major component of attaining economic sustainability as it has to do with protection of natural systems. Arduous effort has to be put in to conserve and reuse natural resources, along with minimising environmental pollution in other to allow future generation enjoy same resources we had in our time such as clean water, air, soil, a favourable environment for survival and many more.
The environmental development has been handled in recent years in such a way that it helps in eradicating poverty in third world countries like Libya, Cuba, Nigeria, Ghana, and so on in line with the united nations goal through government intervention in housing schemes. Not to mention but a few, realising and implementing eco principles in infrastructural projects, enlightening the masses of bush fallowing and environmental planning as well, recommending a plan to protect natural systems, creating a room for dialog for locals in developing environment, creating more greens and nature reserves in the environment, supposing a ‘one-stop’ plan in infrastructural projects, enacting a council for environmental protection sustainably, enlightening people more of the need to plant rather than destroying in trees in the environment, reducing deforestation globally simply because it contributes to problems of climate change and destroys wildlife habitat and causes soil erosion. Environmental sustainability cannot be overemphasised without actually stressing and relating to the economic and social sustainability.
Finally the Social Sustainability of infrastructural projects relates to ways in which there’s a breach of gap between the human rights and cooperate organisations no matter what size, big or small, that are involved in these infrastructural projects as well as the impingement it has on its people both in the positive and negative ways on the long run. It deals with the totality of dealing with human rights as well as the measures taken in dealing with them. In line with the United Nation’s 10 principle Global Impact, the human rights is a core value. It encourages the cooperate organisations to dialog with its immediate environment (stakeholders) and engage the locals there by creating more job opportunities and help in poverty alleviation and gender equality. Using Nigeria for example as a case study, the multi-national companies that were consulted for oil exploration in the South-South region of the country at the early stages weren’t so involved in community dialogs and engagement and this lead to the agitation of elders and youths. They also felt cheated because the headquarters of these multi-national companies were not located in same region as they built very befitting and wonderful structures elsewhere, leaving the main source where the oil rigs where located looking like slums. Sometimes risks were involved and there would be oil spillages in that area, rendering the farm land useless and stopped aquafarming.
A very good example is the case study of an article written by Saatah Nubari. “The Impact Of Oil Exploration On Ogoniland”. Here we can see that the fundamentals of Social Sustainability of infrastructural project calls for the economic growth of the nation which is embraced by social equity. Another very good example of Social Sustainability is the case study of a subway ticket machine in Moscow, Russia. The machine allows anyone to get a free ticket if 30 squats are completed, therefore encouraging individuals to exercise for roughly two minutes and increasing a healthy lifestyle.
Furthermore examples that can relate with the social sustainability of infrastructural projects will be having a fairly equal distribution over production participation, appreciating lives rather than money consciousness, encouraging and establishing policies for gender equality in work places, relying on feedbacks, information and accessibility from immediate communities, enacting policies for cooperate organisations to give back to the society by creating and subsidising food to the poor, good education and health care facilities, work continuously to reduce the use of natural resources, also seeing natural resources as limited in nature for Sustainability Empowerment, striving for a greater awareness and universal education of population.
In more recent years, there’s been lots of new trending ideas and technologies towards attaining the sustainability of infrastructural projects. New technologies are being improved towards cutting down CO2 emission which is mostly from automobiles by inventing electric vehicles and also cutting down on diesel engines, new inventions on renewable are being made such as the energy saving LED lamps. Also we take a look at the sustainability of Biomass as a new renewable source of energy. The raw material is locally sourced for therefore encouraging local business economically and cutting down burning of fossils when reducing transportation emissions which affects the environment as it is also a way of reducing waste. There’s also been an increase in greenhouse effects in infrastructures, improvements in wind turbines and so on. Here we can greatly see that there’s always a policy driving these ideas and inventions. More often than not, developing countries with low internally generated revenues always suffer the most. It clearly shows that’s the Economic Sustainability of infrastructural projects which is mostly government oriented will help in eradicating poverty and create a safe and more friendly environment. Also the Environmental Sustainability of infrastructural projects such as having more greens and creating awareness for less deforestation, creating environmental policies and so on will leave the environment with less complications in the future.
Finally, getting a lot of people, experts, stakeholders in the community involved in these projects will help create sustainability in infrastructural projects. But nevertheless, we cannot consider these triple bottom line of Sustainability without being aware of the population growth in the world. The world population growth is fast growing, just as new inventions, ideas and sources of energy are being developed , the more people will want to consume more and depend on them.