2009-01-01: Sustainable Human & Social Development is much more than an academic theory. It is a necessary concept for our troubled times … in our global community. Intricate, open, dynamic and still evolving … it is very much intended for practical implementation.
A robust understanding of this social catalyst is critically underpinned by human and social rights. Specifically, initial reference is made to the following International Legal Instruments:
– 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UN OHCHR) ;
– 2001 Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity (UNESCO) ;
– 2006 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN).
Sustainable Design is the ethical response, in built and wrought form, to Sustainable Human & Social Development. As our understanding of ‘sustainability’ develops, so too must ‘design’ (spatial planning, architectural/engineering/industrial design, and e-design).
At a macro-level … issues causing untold social, environmental, economic, institutional, political and legal damage, destruction and harm:
We see on our television screens and hear from our radios that the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) are again committing criminal acts in Gaza. These acts are authorized by the Government of Israel. The country’s population continues to vote these Governments into power.
The USA’s treatment of prisoners in Guantánamo Bay was, and still is, degrading, inhumane and criminal. Beyond that, however … the annexation of the bay area remains, to this day, an international act of piracy (refer to the 1901 Platt Amendment and later ‘treaties’ with Cuba procured by the threat or use of force).
The USA and British fundamentalist western crusade against the regime and peoples of Iraq was a cynical act of barbarism and a crime against humanity. We look forward to the day when George W Bush and Tony Blair will be brought before the International Criminal Court (ICC).
At a micro-level … every designer can act, and make his/her positive contribution:
Accessibility of buildings for people with disabilities, to take just one example, is now a legitimate social right which must be protected and nurtured, i.e. properly resourced, by all States Parties to the 2006 UN Disability Rights Convention. People must be able to independently approach, enter, use, egress (under normal conditions) and evacuate (in a fire emergency) any building in our built environment.
Two Immediate Requirements for Sustainability Implementation:
- A radical overhaul of the Education and Training of any person connected, directly or indirectly, with the design, construction, operation, management, servicing or maintenance of our Human Environment.
- The widespread introduction of Sustainability Impact Assessment (SIA) at all levels of our Public and Private Institutions. SIA is a continual evaluation and optimization process – informing initial decision-making, or design, and shaping activity/product/service realization, useful life and termination, or final disposal – of the interrelated positive and negative social, environmental, economic, institutional, political and legal impacts on balanced and equitable implementation of Sustainable Human & Social Development.
Happy New Year !