World commission on environment

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Introduction/ Justification

To define the word sustainability can be best defined by the infamous definition of the World Commission on Environment and Development in 1987 which goes by:

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

Although the concept of sustainability emerged during the 1980's, it is not until the 1990's that the term became commonly utilised. Fien and Tilbury (2002) have described sustainability as three-prongs which cover the long-term future of the environment, the economy, and social justice of the communities. Adding on, Gilberto (2002) had stated that Sustainability, like many powerful concepts, its ambiguity is constructive, allowing wider discussion with endless debate on its content.

Sustainability is concerned with reconciling the long-term development of human society with the finite limits of the planet. Implicit in the sustainability paradigm is the question on which should be prioritize within its three principles, the environment, the economy or the social?

Richard (2006) in his article commented that a society that puts economic sustainability ahead of environmental and social sustainability because of a bug in its money-creation system is putting the cart before the horse. The economy should be merely the tool by which society supports itself; and the money system should be simply part of that tool. To achieve sustainability, the fundamental environmental sustainability should be given precedence above all else. This should be followed close by social sustainability as no economy can survive for very long in conditions of chaos and strife created by gross inequality or unfair access to those resources.

A case study of the Media City in UK will be executed to investigate how the sustainability have been achieved and what will have to be done/spent in future to achieve/maintain its level of sustainability with impact of current economic slump taken into consideration. Concentration will be given on environmental and social sustainability as these principles run as the dynamo of the success of sustainability within the Media City. Considerations will also be given under factors that may/may not hinder achievement of sustainability of Media City.

Media City

An overview of the partially completed project based at Manchester's waterfront, it covers a 200 acres of former docklands of Salford Quay and have been estimated to deliver £1 billion in additional net value to the regional economy five years once complete. Due to complete on 2011, Media city is so far the most significant media development in the United Kingdom. Once completed, the Media city will be home for five BBC departments and bringing along working opportunities for approximately 15,500 people and provide space for 1,150 media, creative and related businesses. It will also create 7 million square feet of spaces for new and refurbish floor space for business, retail and residential properties.

As the Media City sustainable development aims are set as in the Planning Policy Statement 1, it aims in achieving:

  • Effective protection of the environment
  • Social progress which recognises the needs of everyone
  • The prudent use of natural resources
  • The maintenance of high levels of economic growth and employment


To conduct a case study to explore on what have been spent and what will be spent in the future to achieve building sustainability in the construction of the Media City, Salford Quays.


  1. To conduct investigation on how the Environmental Sustainability of the Media City construction will be achieved;
  2. To consider on how the Global Warming may affects the Media City construction in achieving building sustainability;
  3. To consider on the impact of the depleting Fossil fuels against achieving Media City building sustainability.
  4. To conduct investigation on the Social Sustainability of the Media City construction will be achieved;
  5. To review how the current economic slump may possibly render the development of Media City towards sustainability unachievable;

Review of the Literature

To conduct investigation on how the Environmental Sustainability of the Media City construction will be achieved;

When speaking on Environmental sustainability, it is often linked to the concept of natural capital. Natural Capital comprises the capacity of the environment to provide goods and services to human population. Bowers (1997) explains that natural capital includes the capacity of environmental media (air, water, land) to assimilate the waste products of human economic activity; the capacity of the atmosphere to sustain life, to keep warm and shield it from harmful rays; fertility of soil, natural plants and animals with their potential to contribute to the maintenance and growth of human welfare, the supply of the minerals and fossil fuels; everything indeed listed above as components of the life-support systems for future generations. The case study of Media City will review into the affect brought by its construction and possibilities of achieving environmental sustainability.

To consider on how the Global Warming may affects the Media City construction in achieving building sustainability;

To begin with, Smith (2003) has identified the direct linkage of global pollution to the global warming. Global pollution is pollutions caused by people around the world which eventually affects the globe as a whole. This can be described by the daily emission of greenhouse gasses from each household, factories, vehicles and other transportation means, from all around the world which accumulates in the atmosphere and gradually contributes to the global warming. Carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, water vapor, methane and CFC's are few of the greenhouse gasses mentioned. The question here is what now has to be done to make certain that the Media City achieves sustainability despite the degradation of the global environment?

To consider on the impact of the depleting Fossil fuels against achieving Media City building sustainability;

Peak Oil and Energy Scarcity

The constantly increasing demand for oil resources has indeed created pressure on the production line. Chevron corporation (Richard 2006) has been highlighted saying that enough new oil production has to come on-line each year to cover both the growth in world demand of at least 2 million barrels a day and the decline in production from existing fields of over 4 million barrels a day which will be equivalent to a new Saudi Arabia in few years time. However, contradicting to this, Professor Kenneth Rogoff of Harvard has established that "We might be running low on $20 oil, but for $60 we have adequate oil supplies for decades to come". The fact is that there exist abundance of oil sources under the ground but as it goes deeper, it takes more energy to extract and refine it thus resulting in high rate of price. Peak oil leaves us with no option but to move to a more sustainable, renewable-energy-fuelled economy. This research will look into the affects of peak oil and energy scarcity on the current pursue of sustainability in the Media City. Alternative renewable sources that might need to be adopted will also be reviewed.

To review how the current economic slump may possibly render the development of Media City towards sustainability unachievable.

Energy Price Inflation

One of the factors which make the descent into current depression highly likely is that the world's central banks don't understand that, as oil is getting scarcer, a fundamental shift is needed in the world economy to reflect this (Richard 2006). When oil prices rise, the cost of all other forms of energy will eventually be affected, at least to some extent, for one form of energy can be substituted for another.

As a result, the prices of everything we buy will need to increase, but by differing amounts because of the differing amounts of energy required to make and deliver all the different goods and services we use. The chain reaction of such has brought in the escalation of construction materials which will have a continuing effect for the next few years. The construction and completion of the Media City will be affected by this? Is there possibility of Media City's sustainable aims being deterred by such factor? This will be discussed within this research paper.

To conduct investigation on the Social Sustainability of the Media City construction will be achieved;

The global augmentation of the energy price has contributed to the apparent effect of numbers of people losing their jobs while increases the rate of poverty in the UK. According to Richard (2006), the working people are failing to preserve the purchasing power of their salaries and wages. Everything they buy will cost them more in terms of the number of minutes of work they have to do to earn the money to get it (Richard 2006). As a result the world's poor will be very badly hit as food will become increasingly scarce and expensive because of the large amount of energy required to produce it by industrialised methods. Other factors in which social sustainability should be covering are:

  • Opportunities for education and training
  • Health and availability of medical services
  • Human rights and equal opportunities
  • Crime and social disorder levels
  • Housing provisions and quality

This research paper will investigate into the capability of the Media City to achieve the social sustainability under current economic crisis.


Literature Review

The Literature Review provides the background and theories behind the research (Robson 1993, p.23), and allows the topic to be narrowed down before commencing fieldwork and data collection (Yin 1993, p.111).

The topic areas covered initially Environmental, Social and Economic Sustainability, and then latterly a focus on factors that may affect the achievement of sustainability to the Media City. Some of these resources were formed from primary literary sources, such as whitepapers, but the majority are from secondary literature sources such as text books since using the latter this saves considerable time.

Case Study Approach

Naoum (2004) recommended that a case study approach is used when the researcher intends to support his/her argument by an in-depth analysis of a person, a group of persons, an organisation or a particular project. In this event, the case study will be based on single case study of the Media City project in Salford Quays in which the University of Salford have been involved with.

Collection of information will be made through a range of techniques including observation from the actual project, interview with the authorities from Estate's Department of University of Salford as well as documentary analysis. The right of access to information will be obtained through the Approval Form which will be submitted together with this Research proposal.

Secondary Data Collection

On secondary data, information will be extracted through literature survey from sources such as books, journals, magazines, e-library, online sources as well as other available sources. Extracted information will be given appropriate recognition to its origin. This will be achieved with proper citation and referencing as to avoid plagiarism and duplication.

Initial references

Along the production of this research proposal, consultations have been obtained from Professor Eric Bichard and Dr. Chaminda Pathirage. Proper guidance and assistance from these personnel have very much contributed to the successful development of this research proposal.

Ethical Considerations

Ethical considerations have been made through the submission of Ethical Approval Form which covers the consent from sources or personnel in which information will be obtained throughout the process of producing this research paper.


  • Bowers, J. (1997) Sustainability and Environmental Economics: An Alternative Text, Addison Wesley Longman Limited, London.
  • Gilberto, C.G and Paul D.R. (2002) Global Sustainability: Bending the Curve, Routledge, London.
  • Naoum, S.G. (2004) Dissertation Research and Writing for Construction Students, Elsevier Butterworth Heinemann, Oxford.
  • Richard, D. and Emer, O.S. (2006) The Economic Challenge of Sustainability, Fiesta, Ireland.
  • Smith, P.F. (2003) Sustainability at the Cutting Edge: Emerging technologies for low energy buildings, Architectural Press, Oxford.