Eco-Human Theory and Practice
ISSN 2713 – 184x
Eco Art Therapy
Ecological Education
The "Green" Arts


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Mamedov, Nizami Mustafayevich

Doctor of Philosophical Sciences, Professor, Full Member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences and the Russian Ecological Academy, UNESCO expert, professor of the Institute of State Construction and Public Administration of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration under the President of the Russian Federation



At the United Nations conference in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, the idea of the necessity for modern society to transition to the sustainable development model was adopted. The concept of sustainable development focuses on achieving harmony in relations between people, society and nature by making changes in material and spiritual culture. Sustainable development implicitly sets the task of changing the traditional trajectory of historical processes and appears not so much as a program of concrete actions, but as a new worldview and a new methodology for humanity. Global ideas, substantiated in this concept, need clarification and concretization at the regional level. Thus, the implementation of the concept of sustainable development in Russia is possible only if the country's unique natural, social and cultural characteristics are taken into account. The dependence of Russia, its economy, culture, and way of life on the harsh climate, vast landmass, and the nature of the population must be acknowledged.

Keywords: concept of sustainable development, culture of sustainable development, education for sustainable development, global and regional sustainable development, nature of Russia, permafrost, Eurasian culture



At the end of the twentieth century, the world approached an ecological threshold that required a radical change in human beings’ worldview and the economic and technological foundations of social development. It became obvious that humankind, pursuing a one-sided, utilitarian goal of using the resources of nature, was rapidly approaching a global environmental crisis.

In response to this crisis, the Concept of Sustainable Development was adopted in Rio de Janeiro at the UN Conference on Environment and Development in 1992. The materials from the conference give a comprehensive assessment of the planetary situation of human development at that time [10]. They, in particular, note that the main indicators of danger to the health of the global socio-environmental system - population, industrial production, resource consumption and environmental pollution - are in a state of exponential growth; that the contradiction between the prevailing trajectory of the development of civilization and the natural environment have reached their limits.

The main factors that made it necessary to adopt the concept of sustainable development are as follows: population growth at a global level; depletion of reserves of available fuel and mineral resources; global physical and chemical pollution of the natural environment; reduction of biological diversity and arable land; the threat of a decrease in the volume of fresh water reserves. The outcomes of these changes were recognized as the likelihood of an increase in the temperature of the Earth's surface, with resulting climate change and a decrease in the level and quality of life of the world’s population.


The essence of the concept of sustainable development

The essence of the concept of sustainable development comes down to defining the prerequisites and necessary conditions for the continued existence of humankind. According to this concept, each generation of people should live in such a way and satisfy their needs so that the measures of natural, biospheric processes are not violated and the preconditions and living conditions of future generations are not threatened.

Sustainable development theory also recognizes the need for interrelated socio-economic and environmental development. When considering environmental issues, one cannot be limited only to the problems of the natural environment. As emphasized in the preface to the UN report "Our Common Future", “The environment does not exist in isolation from human activity, from the needs and desires of people. Attempts to protect it, without taking into account the satisfaction of human needs, led to the fact that in some political circles these attempts began to be treated as something naive, divorced from life ... The environment is the place of our life, and development is our actions to improve our well-being in it. Both of these concepts are inseparable.” [6]

Thus, the need to ensure a balanced, dual development of the economy and ecology, socio-economic and ecological development, comes to the fore. In general, it is assumed that sustainable development should be characterized by economic efficiency, biosphere compatibility, social justice and comprehensive security.

The time that has passed since the conference confirms that the transition to sustainable development is the only way to safeguard humanity. It became obvious that in the context of globalization, spontaneous development is becoming even more dangerous. Globalization can acquire a humanistic orientation only with sustainable development.

Sustainable development also presupposes stability in the development of the political, social, cultural spheres of society, their interconnection and interaction. As we understand the problems and prospects of the transition of modern society to a society based on sustainable development principles, the concept of sustainable development becomes generalized and turns into a theory of the historical process, reflecting social and natural (socio-natural) reality in unity and development [4].

The implementation of the concept of sustainable development presupposes systemic-futurological studies of the patterns of development of the biosphere, economics and technology, to ensure the conscious "construction" of the future and movement towards a qualitatively new state of society. This new state of society will generally differ from the current one, first of all, in that its culture will creates the possibility of sustainable development.


A culture of sustainable development

All achievements of human beings, all forms in which their activity takes place, in one way or another, are determined by culture. Culture performs a regulatory, governing function in social development and the historical process as a whole. The solution to the problems of modern civilization is associated not only with the greening of the economy and the development of science and technology, but also with the development of human qualities. It is now generally recognized that among the specific tasks of the transition to sustainable development, it is necessary to prioritize the formation of a culture of sustainable development. An important step in substantiating a culture of sustainable development was taken in the UNESCO international conferences held in Baku (Azerbaijan) in 2011-2013. [2] and in 2013 in Hangzhou (China) [10].

Culture is a syncretic concept that reflects the quintessence of the era and the fundamental features of the material and spiritual life of society. The attitude of people to each other and their attitude to nature constitute the dual basis of culture and determine its features. From our point of view, culture is a method and result of the adaptation and organization of people's lives [3].

The culture of sustainable development appears as a new way of connecting humans with nature and reconciling them with it on the basis of a deeper knowledge of its processes. This requires the need for constant replenishment of knowledge about the laws of the functioning of the natural environment and about the forms and methods of activities for the rational use of natural resources.

In modern conditions, in connection with the rapid development of communication technologies, there is an intensive interaction of diverse cultures. The currently emerging information society is giving rise to unprecedented prospects for cooperation in the cultural sphere. Intercultural dialogue is gaining importance in helping to comprehend the essence of diverse national cultures.

In this context, the problem of understanding, extending from interpersonal communication to communication of cultures, takes on special significance. Despite the differences between national cultures, there is always some common ground that determines the fundamental possibility of their dialogue. These are cultural universals that are the embodiment of sociocultural experience. They have at all times determined the categorical structure of individual and collective consciousness. Today, to the question: "On what basis should identity and universality, national and universal, be combined in culture?" you can answer: "Based on the principles of sustainable development."

Global concern about the protection of human existence and the safety of the living environment is a prerequisite for a new cultural synthesis. Humanity is now faced with a choice: either to preserve the existing type of activity and perish in an ecological catastrophe, or to make radical changes and preserve nature in order to sustain life for subsequent generations. Since the second option is the only acceptable one, humanity has to transform on the basis of an awareness of these new realities, changing its predominantly destructive activity and its entire system of values.

In general, to achieve sustainable development, at least the following conditions are required:

• a political system that facilitates the participation of the general public in decision-making, including those related to nature-transforming activities;

• a legal system based on the principles of the rule of law;

• an economic system focused on less energy- and resource-intensive production and fair distribution;

• a social system that ensures the removal of conflict situations;

• an international system that contributes to the stability of communication, trade and financial relations;

• an information system, providing publicity and distributing new information;

• an educational system that forms environmental awareness and a culture of sustainable development;

• a technological system focused on biosphere-compatible technologies, etc.

These requirements should mainly be viewed as goals, which should underlie regional and global action in the field of socio-economic development [6]. In a broad sense, these requirements represent the conditions for the transformation of the culture of modern society and its transition to a qualitatively new state.

In general, the awareness that people do not just exist on Earth for their own sake, but that they must perform a certain biospheric function, constitutes the basis of the ecological worldview and the main axis of the culture of sustainable development. If culture in general is a method of social development that determines how people, with the help of material and spiritual means, ensure their preservation and development as social beings, then the culture of sustainable development represents a means of coordinating socio-natural development, in which it is possible to ensure the preservation of fundamental indicators of biospheric health. If culture, as a social phenomenon, as "the creation of human hands,” has always been opposed to nature, then the culture of sustainable development should become a way to create harmonious connection of humans with nature on the basis of deep knowledge and understanding of the essence of natural phenomena.

The formation of a culture of sustainable development requires the multifaceted movement of modern society along the path of modernization of its material and spiritual spheres based on indicators of sustainable development. At the same time, the methodology for implementing a culture of sustainable development involves the formation of a civil society, the use of social capital to overcome imbalances in various areas of social life and stratification in the socio-economic sphere, and the creation of a favorable, humanistic spiritual climate in society.

A culture of sustainable development can be formed as a result of the conscious, directed actions of society. This process is based on: 1) the education system, 2) information policy, 3) a new wave of cultural production in literature and the arts.

The educational system traditionally corresponds to its era and reflects the level and structure of public consciousness. The contradictions faced by society inevitably affect education. By responding to them, education can have a constructive impact on resolving these contradictions. It is not difficult to trace this on the scale of historical time or to find examples that confirm and reveal this dialectical connection. Currently, most of the problems of education are derived from the aforementioned social, political, economic and environmental contradictions. The most important prerequisite for their solution is a thoughtful transformation of education, its content and methodology. In this regard, state policy in the field of education should consider sustainable development as a priority for the country's security. The content of education, accordingly, should be aimed at revealing the spiritual wealth of a person, forming the intellectual and ethical foundations of sustainable development, and strengthening and improving civil society and the foundations of the rule of law.

Modern education must be future-oriented. In connection with the transition to sustainable development, the need to provide advanced education is obvious. Education for sustainable development is multifaceted, and should aim to solve a variety of issues. At the same time, the complex structure of education for sustainable development must go back to environmental education, which was designed not only to penetrate the structure of education, but to become one of its most important foundations.

Back at the UN summit in Johannesburg in 2002, the need for a Decade of Education for Sustainable Development was announced, which in 2005-2014 was successfully implemented. However, during these years, the processes of globalization intensified, the ambiguity of socio-political and economic transformations in the world increased, large-scale natural and man-made disasters became more frequent, and climate change became visible for all. All this led to a gradual adjustment of the initial goals of the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, as well as the specification of its tasks in these new conditions.

At the same time, despite the awareness of the importance of reforming education for sustainable development, this process is controversial. This is due to socio-political, economic and scientific, pedagogical and methodological circumstances. For example, global tendencies such as the uneven distribution of the world's population, the preservation and increase of differences in its qualitative and quantitative indicators, the growing confrontation between developed and developing countries, the rise of nationalism and fundamentalism, among others, do not contribute to the reform of education in the interests of sustainable development.

Scientific and pedagogical problems also became apparent. Education for sustainable development is future-oriented, while pedagogical methods are associated with the assimilation of knowledge that reflects real connections and relationships in the natural and social environment. The future is always more or less uncertain, and its blurred outlines and vague content is difficult to imagine as the basis of education. This contradiction determines the need to develop fundamentally new pedagogical technologies aimed at envisioning the future and possibilities of managing its challenges.

Education will undoubtedly continue to be central to the development of a culture of sustainable development, but its development requires adequate governance. According to the official documents of UNESCO adopted after 2015, it is necessary to provide inclusive, equitable and quality education, and to create opportunities for all to learn throughout life. At the same time, UNESCO considers one of its main tasks to be the coordination and monitoring of the process of reforming education for sustainable development at the global level [1]. According to experts, this process is initiated by the publication of the global education monitoring report. Undoubtedly, this makes it possible to realistically assess the state of education in different regions of the world and make decisions in accordance with the goals of forming a culture of sustainable development.

Another necessary condition for the formation of a culture of sustainable development is information policy. At present, both global and national information policy is not properly oriented towards sustainable development. Occasional speeches on this topic, of course, are not enough; a systematic policy in this area is needed. Both traditional and electronic media can make a significant contribution to the formation of a culture of sustainable development, given their impact on the state of public consciousness.

Representatives from the spheres of literature and the arts can also make their invaluable contribution to this process. However, the creation of genuine works of art that cause deep emotional experiences and change people’s consciousness, requires the creators themselves to immerse themselves deeply in the essence of the problem. To do this, it is necessary to overcome the alienation of the majority of writers, artists, composers, filmmakers from environmental issues.

Today, the formation of a culture of sustainable development is becoming a measure for the level of civilization of society. This is not only desirable, but a mandatory requirement for the continuation of life of the world community. The development of both the theoretical foundations of a culture of sustainable development and effective methods for its formation becomes the program of human activity in the 21st century.


Features of Russian reality

There are significant differences in the natural, cultural, economic and political factors which affect individual countries. This is reflected in the difference in the way of life of people, their social needs and social relations. It is no coincidence that the UN summit on sustainable development, held in 2002 in Johannesburg, determined that the subjects of sustainable development are nation states, and that they are responsible for the state of the natural environment at the local and regional levels [8].

The transition to sustainable development in Russia cannot be imagined without taking into account its vast territory, the diversity of its nature, population, culture, its economic characteristics, and regional structure. The strong dependence of Russia, its history and culture on natural factors, a harsh climate, large landmass, and the nature of the population is not yet fully understood. Oddly enough, almost all the socio-economic reforms undertaken in the history of Russia did not take into account the peculiarities of its culture or its natural, ecological differences. None of the three large-scale attempts to modernize Russia – 1) those initiated by Peter I and Catherine II in the XVII-XVIII centuries; 2) Soviet modernization of the last century; 3) the liberal modernization of E. Gaidar and B. Yeltsin - led to the desired result. Is it not here, then, that the reasons for their failure should be sought?

It must be understood that Russia is not only the largest country and the richest in combustible resources, but also the coldest country in the world, where "permafrost" covers more than half of the territory, dominated by a predominantly extreme ecological environment, and where the fertility of the land is unstable. In the short term, a decrease in population density (especially in the eastern regions) will create complex geopolitical problems.

The cultural factor is also of key importance in this case. The traditional question about the nature of Russian culture in the context of its interaction with the cultures of the West and the East remains relevant. A special "Eurasian" type of culture has historically formed in Russia. This is not so much the result of a synthesis of European and Asian cultures as a qualitatively different cultural type [9]. Russian culture, directed by its spiritual intentions towards Europe, but rooted in its material foundations in the communal structures of Asia, is a unique combination of these opposite traditions.

Accordingly, a genuine modernization of Russia is possible only on the basis of Eurasian values. This is now being emphasized by V.V. Putin: “We have left the Soviet ideology, it is impossible to return to it. The adherents of fundamental conservatism, idealizing Russia before 1917, are as far from reality as the adherents of Western liberalism." The choice falls on a theory that goes beyond the modern era and connects all stages of the thousand-year Russian history. It is about the ideology of Eurasianism. “For today, the principles of Eurasianism for Russia are the only opportunity, while maintaining integrity, to preserve identity.” [7]

In general, in connection with the tasks of the transition to sustainable development, attention should be paid to the following features of Russia:

- The presence of a large and heterogeneous territory. On the one hand, this ensures the country's environmental sustainability, on the other, it creates a number of difficulties in the creation of communication, management, and energy transmission systems.

- The ideology of Eurasianism should become the methodological basis of social and political activity, as well as information policy in Russia.

- A necessary condition for Russia's transition to sustainable development is the sustainable development of its regions. Regional management should be carried out within the structure of the federal policy of sustainable development, and its forms and methods should be determined by taking into account the specificities of the particular region.

- Russian education should develop on a scientific basis, in the context of world trends in pedagogy, but in accordance with the values ​​of Russian civilization. In this regard, attempts to unambiguously copy Western education systems seem counterproductive.

 - The most important prerequisite for the sustainable development of Russia is the formation of a civil society that can ensure effective control over the government and overcome corruption at various levels.

- Particular attention should be paid to the issues of demography and migration management. Additional efforts should be made at the state level to increase the population in the south of the Far East and Eastern Siberia.



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  10. The Hangzhou Declaration: Placing culture at the heart of sustainable development policies.


Reference for citations

Mamedov N.M. (2021). Sustainable development concept: global vision and Russian reality. Ecopoiesis: Eco-Human Theory and Practice, 2(1). [open access internet journal]. – URL: (d/m/y)


About the journal

“Ecopoiesis: Eco-Human Theory and Practice” is the first international multidisciplinary Journal focused on building an eco-human paradigm, disseminating eco-human knowledge and technology based on the alliance of ecology, humanities and the arts. Our journal aims to be a vibrant forum of theories and practices aimed at harmonizing the relations of mankind and the natural world in the interests of sustainable development, the creation of Eco-Humanity as a new community of human beings and more-than-human world. The human being is an ecological being, not separate from the world. The Ecopoiesis journal is based on that premise and aims to develop a body of theory and practice within that framework.

The Journal promotes dialogue and cooperation between ecologists, philosophers, doctors, educators, psychologists, artists, musicians, designers, social activists, business representatives in the name of eco-human values, human health and well-being, in close connection with concern for the environment. The Journal supports the development and implementation of new environmentally-friendly concepts, technologies and practices in the various fields of health and public life, education and social work.

One of the priority tasks of the Journal is to demonstrate and support the significant role of the arts in their alliance with ecology and the humanities for the restoration and development of constructive relations with nature, raising environmental awareness and promoting nature-friendly lifestyles.

The Journal publishes articles describing new eco-human concepts and practices, technologies and applied research data at the intersection of humanities, ecology and the arts, as well as interviews and conference reports related to the emerging eco-human field. It encourages artwork, music and other creative products related to eco-human practices and the new global community of Eco-Humanity.