What Are Disadvantages of Sustainable Development?

By Staff WriterLast Updated May 27, 2020 7:34:09 PM ET
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Sustainable development is all the rage in the 21st century. The goal of this concept is to build and improve urban and suburban areas with as little impact on the environment as possible. The growth of environmental movements has put the debate over sustainable development front and center. While the long-term pros to sustainable development are clear, the cons aren’t as easy to see, but they lurk behind the debate.

Increased Costs

Because sustainable development relies on newer technologies and materials that cost more to produce, the overall costs are often more than that of traditional construction. The higher cost of materials is passed on to developers. Developers pass it on to property owners, who pass it on to tenants. 

Future development will include tools that haven’t even been invented yet. The trial and error of using new materials and ideas can also bring costs up for everyone. 

Lower Quality of Life for Some Elements of Society

Sustainable development will shrink or do away with certain job sectors. This will lead to job loss for some workers. The fossil fuel industry could see plants close and employees lose jobs as sustainable development relies on new energy sources. The rising costs and less robust power of alternative energy can also lead to a lower quality of life for people who live in sustainably developed areas. 

Resistance to New Methods

When people try to implement new ideas, there’s naturally a certain amount of resistance. People in general are set in their ways and don’t want to change their lives radically. As more governments and companies attempt to put sustainable development into practice, more resistance will follow.

Some of the resistance will come in the form of people who initially adopt the idea of sustainable development with enthusiasm, but their commitment shrinks as they start to put new ideas into practice. Contractors and tenants may resist a specific initiative because it forces them to change the ways they work and live.

Increased Regulation

Sustainable approaches will naturally lead to increased regulation on construction and the daily operation of businesses. A greater commitment to the environment will lead to tighter controls on how people live their lives. Stricter building codes and tougher emission standards are likely. While some people will accept a greater burden of regulation because they see the overall benefit, many people will disagree with government intruding into their lives. 

Political Struggle

In addition to the public resistance, there’s a political cost to committing to the environment. The deep political divides in society mean that some political powers won’t want to commit to sustainable initiatives. Certain industries will try to influence politicians via lobbyists. Some politicians will be completely against sustainable development.

Is It Worth the Trouble?

People and organizations that are in favor of sustainable development believe that it’s worth moving past these disadvantages to work on the environment. Advocates say that sustainable development is an investment in future generations. The biggest defenders of these initiatives are working on ways of overcoming the hurdles.