Environment and Sustainable Development Nexus
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To appreciate the link between the environment and sustainable development, one needs to understand the basic concepts within ecology. While numerous literatures exists on this subject, ecology generally refers to the scientific study of the inter-relationships between living things and their biotic and abiotic environment, which determines the distribution and abundance of organisms in an environment (Krebs, 1985). On the other hand, the environment according to Kenya's Environmental Management and Coordination Act (EMCA) 1999 includes the physical factors of the surroundings of human beings including land, water, atmosphere, climate, sound, odour, taste, the biological factors of animals and plants, and the social factor of aesthetics, and includes both the natural and the built environment. In essence the environment may be viewed as the totality of nature and its components. Current thinking no longer views ecology as a subdivision of biology, but acknowledges that it has emerged from its roots in biology to become a separate discipline that integrates organisms, the physical environment, and humans on the premise that everything on earth operates in cycles, and all life is connected (Odum, 1996). Various specializations in ecology have emerged and will continue to emerge as humans continue to discover new areas in the environment for utilization. As an emerging specialisation, and based on the role of humans as the greatest force in shaping and being shaped by the environment, human ecology is the study of humans as they relate to the environment. It includes the study of the impact of humans on the environment and vice versa, as a basis for informed and accountable decision-making about resource use and development towards sustainable societies. Prior to the development of ecological thinking, science had been reductionist and concerned with compartmentalizing things in order to understand them. To the contrary, ecology is holistic and requires a study of the whole, which is often more than the sum of the parts. Ecology thus involves many branches of science and must inevitably adopt an interdisciplinary and integrated approach, which in essence simulates diversity and the inter-dependence of nature and its components. It is on this basis that mainstreaming sustainability thinking in education has gained momentum within the international community (UNEP, 2006).