What are the main principles of sustainable development
The basic principles of sustainable development make it possible to harmonise the various sectoral and development strategies with the horizontal strategy on sustainable development (hereinafter: Strategy) and they also provide a general type of guidance for determining the Strategy’s priorities, more specifically defined goals and tasks, the frameworks and means of implementation, in a coordinated and harmonised way. The basic principles have been formulated, clarified, and adopted at the highest levels by the relevant bodies of both the UN and the EU. On account of their national relevance the following should be highlighted from the complete set of principles:
- The principle of holistic approach. Things must be viewed as a system of inter-related elements, the elements themselves also being systems interacting with one another. Any intervention may trigger ripple effects even in remote systems. So local challenges can be adequately addressed relying on the knowledge of the wider environment and global trends alike.
- Principle of intra-generational and inter-generational solidarity. The interests of sustainable development are focused on people. The development and environmental needs of present generations must be addressed without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
- The principle of social justice. The right to adequate conditions for living must be recognised and fundamental human rights must be guaranteed for all. All people should have equal opportunities for acquiring knowledge and skills required to become worthy members of society.
- The principle of sustainable management of resources. Sustainable management of resources with a view to the limitations of the carrying capacity of the environment; by using natural resources in a prudent and thrifty way it preserves resources required for future development. Biodiversity is also a natural resource and we attach high priority to its conservation.
- The principle of integration. In the course of elaborating, evaluating, and implementing sectoral policies, plans, and programmes, economic, social, and environmental considerations and their relationships must also be taken into account to ensure that they can mutually reinforce each other. Local, regional, and national activities must be coordinated.
- The principle of utilising local resources. Efforts should be made to supply the needs of communities on a local level, from local resources. Local features and diversity should be preserved. Preservation and sustainable utilisation of the man-made environment and cultural heritage are also very important tasks.
- The principle of public participation. Adequate access to information affecting social/economic life and the environment, to information on decision making processes must be provided for all. People’s knowledge about sustainable development, its social/economic and environmental implications, and about sustainable solutions and approaches must be clarified and enhanced. Public participation in decision making should be strengthened.
- The principle of social responsibility. To enable sustainable development and to make a higher quality of life possible, unsustainable patterns of production and consumption must be changed. Businesses’ social responsibility must be strengthened, along with cooperation between the private and the public sector.
- The principle of precaution and prevention. The precautionary approach means that wherever the possibility of severe or irreversible damage is perceived, a lack of complete scientific certainty may not be used as an excuse for delaying effective action to prevent damage to the environment or endangering human health; i.e. action must be taken in view of the gravity of the perceived threat. Human activities must be planned and carried out in line with this precautionary principle and activities damaging or polluting the environment endangering natural systems and human health must be prevented and – where it is not possible – reduced, and finally, damages must be restored to their original state as far as possible.
- The polluter pays principle. Prices must reflect the real costs paid by society for activities involved in consumption and production as well as for their impacts, including the costs of using natural resources. Those engaged in activities damaging/polluting the environment must pay for damage caused to human health or the environment.