The relation between sustainable development and climate change lies in resource management and livelihood sustenance.
Although the concept of sustainable development has gained general acceptance since 1980s, it exists in forestry for almost 200 years, where it first was linked to sustained yield and further developed in sustainable forest management (Wiersum, 1995). This understanding of sustainable development describes best the idea of keeping balance between the stocks of yielded timber and planted forest, in order to use and upkeep “forest and forest land in a way and at a rate, that maintains their biodiversity, productivity, regeneration capacity, vitality and their potential to fulfil, now and in the future, relevant ecological, economic and social functions […]” (as defined at MCPFE 1993, ForestEurope 2014)
The definition of sustainable development as set in Brundtland report says that “the humanity has the ability to make the development sustainable to ensure that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” (World Commission on Environment and Development 1987) In other words, the world is seen as a system having its boundaries or limitations of possibilities of reproduction, limitations of “the present state of technology and social organization on the environmental resources” and, on the other hand, the limitations of the ability of biosphere to recycle “the effects of human activities” (World Commission on Environment and Development 1987).
So in order to develop sustainably the human kind needs to either increase the stock of available resources through proper management and development of technology and social organization, or limit the outflow, or to put it simply, decrease the use of resources, especially those that can’t be replenished or renewed.
Climate change plays a role of stressor, it affects key natural and human living conditions, the base of social and economic development, and therefore, the ability to sustain livelihood of humankind.
Conversely, the society’s priority to develop sustainably and therefore influences the rate of emissions of greenhouse gases, which cause climate change (IPCC SPM 2007)
There’s an inherent link between the sustainable development goals and climate policy responses, adaptation strategies and associated socio-economic development. Hence, it seems reasonable to inscribe climate policies into broader developmental strategies. On the other hand, the following sustainable development strategies and goals (Millenium goals, most notably), will be synergetic with climatic policies. To give a quick example, combatting major diseases, one of the Millenium goals, would decrease the vulnerability to heat related illnesses, associated with heat waves. So there’s a need to explore the synergies between adaptation measures and broader developmental policies in order to make both more effective.
Comparing to other developmental issues climate change might seem less significant or insignificant at all (IPCC SMP 2007), yet one of the manifestations of climate change – increased disaster risks – might, without proper adaptation, interfere with future development. One of these manifestations – the increased occurrence of heat waves will be discussed in the next part.