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close this bookEnvironment, Biodiversity and Agricultural Change in West Africa (UNU, 1997, 141 pages)
close this folderThe context
close this folder4: Criteria for designing sustainable farming systems in tropical Africa
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentSustainable agriculture
View the documentFarming systems of tropical Africa and their sustainability under changing conditions
View the documentIngredients of sustainable farming systems and issues to be considered in the design of these systems
View the documentSectorial interface requirements
View the documentConclusions and recommendations
View the documentReferences

(introduction...)

Sustainable agriculture
Farming systems of tropical Africa and their sustainability under changing conditions
Ingredients of sustainable farming systems and issues to be considered in the design of these systems
Sectorial interface requirements
Conclusions and recommendations
References

Bede N. Okigbo

The World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED 1987) defined sustainable development as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Although I do not feel like adding to the unending list of definitions of sustainable development, there is need to consider definitions that make it easier to better conceptualize the nature and processes involved in sustainable development rather than the usual listing of characteristics of the term(s). Here, I attempt to present an operationally practical definition of sustainable development as the current global development paradigm consisting of policies, plans, programmes and activities of conserving, managing and utilizing resources to at least satisfy basic needs and improve human welfare by employing such strategies, technologies, processes and systems of production that do not degrade the resource base, cause losses or changes in the environment that are ecologically, economically and culturally undesirable. According to the WCED (1987) definition, the changes that are ecologically, economically and culturally undesirable are those that damage the environment to the extent that future generations will find it more difficult to find ways or generate technologies for rehabilitating the degraded environment and/or reversing the adverse changes in order to utilize environmental resources to meet their needs and ensure human welfare than we are finding it easy today to achieve the same objective. In other words, sustainable development consists of practices and techniques of managing and utilizing resources to fulfil human needs without damaging the environment so badly as to make it more difficult for future generations to manage and utilize environmental resources to satisfy their own needs.