BBC World Service
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Article 25: Right to adequate living standard for self and family, including food, housing, clothing, medical care and social security

"Sustainable Development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

(Our Common Future. A report of the World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987, also called The Brundtland Report)
  • The World Summit on Sustainable Development took place in Johannesburg, South Africa, in August 2002.
  • It brought heads of state and government and leaders from non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and businesses together to focus on improving people's lives and protecting natural resources in a world that is growing in population, with increasing demands for food, water, shelter, sanitation, energy, health services and economic security.
  • A soil conservation project in Tanzania has helped reverse land degradation whilst enabling communities to produce food products. In addition, income generated through the sale of food stuffs has been reinvested in improvements in housing and sanitation, and small businesses.

Historical Context

The past fifty years have seen unprecedented economic gains for many. However, poverty and development problems, compounded by the side effects of rapid expansions of some economies and societies, are putting a strain on the world's human and natural resources.

At the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, the international community adopted Agenda 21, an unprecedented global plan of action for sustainable development.

The World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg offered an opportunity to build on the knowledge gained over the past decade.


At the end of the summit in Johannesburg, delegates adopted a Plan of Implementation. It outlines the actions and measures needed to enhance international cooperation in tackling poverty and protecting the environment.

These efforts promote integration, economic development, social development and environmental protection. The summit set water, energy, biodiversity, agriculture, and health as five critical areas for sustainable development.

Sustainable Development in Tanzania

The United Nations Development Programme has recorded successful initiatives such as the Hifadhi Ardhi Shinyanga (HASHI) project.

In Tanzania, the community-based soil conservation project (HASHI) has been successful in reversing land degradation through a revival of traditional forms of conservation.

Through the project's work, people have been able to reestablish their traditional Ngitili system of land management with significant improvements for both the environment and the livelihoods of communities.

Through the Ngitili system of enclosures, farmers close off certain areas to allow for regrowth. This prolongs the availability of fodder during dry periods to better ensure the survival of their cattle.

Restored areas now support sustainable production of more food products, including fruits, meat, and milk and commercial products such as gum and honey.

The income generated through the sale of these products has been reinvested in better housing, classrooms, dispensaries, latrines, farming implements, and small business.

More tree varieties have been planted, soil conditions have improved, wells have been restored, and households now spend less time away from their farms searching for food and water.

There has been a notable regrowth of tree species and medicinal plants and the return of species to the arid region, including bird and butterfly species.

A local initiative such as HASHI is an important step towards achieving sustainable development worldwide.