Discriminating between needing and wanting

30 May

One of my favourite hobbyhorses is the issue of needs versus wants. The oft-quoted excerpt from the Brundtland-Report that goes “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” specifically uses the word needs. Makes absolute sense, given that meeting the essential needs of the world’s poor was highlighted in the Report and given top priority. Except that I often get the impression in countries with a high Human Development Index (or whatever indicator has your preference) we find it very hard to limit ourselves and our solution-finding to needs, perhaps because all of our essential needs are usually well-met in these societies. To me it seems we are actually trying to find ways to meet our wants in a sustainable fashion… Nothing wrong with that, except that half the planet (make that half the population, we won’t go into the needs of other ecosystem members right now) aren’t having their essential needs met right now. And in our era of globalisation all your doing and my doing impacts meeting their needs and vice versa. Can you simplify your wants?

(via ffffound!, via CJwho)

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One Response to “Discriminating between needing and wanting”

  1. slowborg May 30, 2012 at 14:59 #

    Definitely one of the many many things I consider daily now I am downshifting. Sometimes I get so uptight about only fulfilling my needs I deprive myself of some wants. It’s really learned behaviour isn’t it.
    As for globally – we are appalling. I have made some pretty huge decisions like not having children because to bring them into THIS world? For me, it feels selfish (I’d love kids!). Of course I support everyone’s choice and want people I know to have kids so I can live vicariously through them!
    Great post x

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