Sustainable Development

The concept of “sustainable development” has been at the centre of the 'environment and development' debate since the "UN Conference on the Human Environment" in Stockholm in 1972:

"Sustainable development is: the development that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. At the same time, “the right to development is an inalienable human right and an integral part of fundamental human freedoms”

Human development is closely related to and dependent on our natural surroundings and resources, including water, land, flora, fauna and the climatic conditions. Much development in the past has taken place at the expense of natural resources, and has affected natural ecosystems and their ecological functions. It is increasingly recognized that present and future development needs have to be fulfilled in conjunction with environmental protection in order to guarantee human security in the mid and long term.


From the flood management perspective, environmental degradation has the potential to threaten human security in many different ways:

  • First, it can alter the magnitude and frequency of floods.
  • Second, by affecting other components of human security such as economic and food security (e.g. land degradation affecting agricultural productivity) and public health (e.g. polluted water), it increases the vulnerability of those exposed to such hazards.

Adequate consideration of environmental impacts in flood management activities is therefore a vital contribution to sustainable development and human security.

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