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Overview

Economic growth, and its complex interactions with physical and biological environmental conditions, has deservedly attracted much attention in discussions on development progress (See the Principles and Rationale for Sustainable Development module in the Toward Sustainable Development e-Course).

This course looks more closely at environmental sustainability. This is not to suggest that the social dimensions of sustainable development are not important, but rather to acknowledge the influence that environmental considerations have come to exert on public debate and development policy.

You are first reminded of the different kinds of natural resources and the reasons why they matter so much to society. The course than describes environmental threats and links with human health arising from economic activities. Finally you are taken on a short tour of the different ways in which environmental policy can help address these threats by encouraging government, corporate sector and individual conduct that is conducive to environmental sustainability.

The target learners of this e-course are policymakers, members of the academe, government leaders, urban planners, private sector authorities, and other professionals engaged in climate change and sustainable development work.

 

Contents

The following are the three thirty-minute modules of this e-course that you can take at your own convenience.

Module 1: Natural Resources and Ecosystems

For many, ensuring the conservation of natural resources and ecosystems is the embodiment of sustainable development. If sustainable development is to mean anything it has to that it involves green growth. Other modules of this program remind you that sustainable development goes well beyond protecting the environment and deals also with social considerations. That notwithstanding, the prominent place occupied by natural resources and ecosystems in any balanced discussion of sustainable development is amply justified. The module is an overview of the topic taken up again in more detail by other courses of this Program (Courses 5 to 9).

Module 2: Environmental pollution and its Impacts on Human Health

The module introduces you to the subject of environmental pollution, a prominent topic in discussions on sustainable development. The link between environmental pollution and human health is singled out for specific consideration, since it is the human health impacts of environmental pollution that typically drive environmental policy. Pollution’s effects on ecosystems and cultural assets can be also serious but due to receiving less public attention do not drive environmental policy to the same degree. The module then looks at a variety of other pollution-related links.

Module 3: Tools of Environmental Policy

In modern societies, both production and consumption—and the environmental impacts that accompany them—are to varying degrees affected by government policy. This module introduces you to the tools that governments have at their disposal to affect environmental outcomes. Government interventions are decisive but not the sole determinants of outcomes: Corporate sector and individual decisions (e.g. to purchase environment-friendly goods, to engage in recycling programs, to volunteer for conservation programs etc.) are also important.