Sustainable development

Concepts – Principles

The concepts of ”sustainable development” and ”sustainable development of tourism”, respectively, are relatively recent, their origins being the Recommendations of the UN Organization on the issue of ”Environment and development”, which took place at Rio de Janeiro in June 1992.

The global code of ethics in tourism, adopted by the World Organization of Tourism in 1999, emphasizes the principles according to which tourism is a factor of sustainable development.

The Brundtland Report gives a very clear definition  of sustainable development as ”the development that aims to cater for the needs of the present without tampering with the needs of the future generations to cater for their own needs.”

It follows that sustainability starts from the idea that human activities are dependent on the environment and on resources.

Although initially sustainable development was conceived as a solution to the ecologic crisis caused by the intensive industrial exploitation of resources and ongoing environmental damage, the concept has now been extended to include the quality of life in its complexity, both under an economic and social aspect and under a cultural aspect.

There are three main principles of sustainable development

  • Ecological sustainability, which ensures sustainable development in keeping with the essential ecological processes, especially the diversity of biological resources;
  • Social and cultural sustainability, which guarantees an economic development favorable to the members of society, compatible with the existing cultural and civilization value, preserving community identities;
  • Economic sustainability, whose role is to ensure an efficient economic development, the resources being managed in such a way as to last in the future.

The most used definition of tourism sustainable development is ”the development of all forms of tourism, tourist management and marketing which should respect natural, social and economic integrity of the environment through the exploitation of the natural and cultural resources in the interest of the future generations.”
Sustainable development of tourism can also be defined as ”the channeling of the management of all resources in such a way as to cater for the economic, social and aesthetic needs, at the same time preserving cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, biological diversity and the systems of life support.”

The development of sustainable tourism is underpinned by the following principles:

  • Minimizing the impact of the activity of tourism upon the natural environment with a view to reaching ecological sustainability;
  • Minimizing the negative impact of tourist activity upon the local community and its members with a view to reaching social sustainability (avoiding hostile situations in relation to the local community by developing those forms of tourism which do not interfere with the daily life of the population);
  • Minimizing the negative impact of the tourism activity upon the culture, traditions and customs of the local communities with a view to reaching cultural sustainability.

Approaches to sustainable development

The eco-centred approach – Strong Sustainability
The economy is a sub-system of the sphere of human activities, they themselves being a sub-system of the biosphere.

The ecomomy-centredapproach – Weak Sustainability
By the economy-centred approach it is considered that the progress of society and environmental protection are conditioned by economic prosperity; the more riches economy will produce, the more well-off people will be, and this will facilitate investments meant to ensure the natural environment protection.