Family and Sustainable Development and the Example of China

While poverty reduces family cohesion and values, equally prosperity may itself accentuate work-life tensions, for instance the stress of career parents in taking care of children all highlight the complexity of the links between sustainable development and families

Key Note Statement at the World Family Summit by Mr. Khalid Malik, UNDP Resident Representative/UN Resident Coordinator

We can consider family as the nucleus institution of our society today and will have to ensure its viability and sustenance moving forward. In the west, this fundamental structure is under threat with increased divorce rates and strained family financials. As more and more families try to make ends meet interestingly our living standards have also increased by many folds. We have actually imposed on ourselves tougher standards to measure up against and have not realized the consequences until very recently. Our current life style is a product of our “perceived” prosperity. There are many examples in this to be learned from for developing nations.

There is a clear link between sustainable development and family; without access to jobs and a clean environment, families are not able to prosper. Also, without conditions that nurture and safeguard family rights, families cannot thrive and this in turn holds back economic and social progress. Functioning families are crucial to social cohesion and stability.
In the case of China, rapid growth and economic welfare has brought about more opportunities for a better life. However Chinese families are facing many new challenges as a result of economic growth.

As Mr. Malik states them:
1. Despite persistent economic development at a high speed, pockets of poverty is still a reality for a large number of populations and poverty incidence continues to be high.
2. China’s transition from a socialist system to a market economy has created new social security challenges to families.
3. The movement of migrants inside China is unforeseen in global history and this has huge implications to families affected.
4. The threat of HIV/AIDS. Be it rich or poor, urban or rural, HIV/AIDS does not choose which door to enter.
5. Environmental and ecological degradation have affected families in many ways.

Families can be considered as the essence of social capital. This means that they are affected by development good or bad. Keeping in mind the already set examples, there are many questions that can be asked:
– Has double income families brought “happiness” to the core of our society? Will we be able sustain this life style for generations to come and still provide for our families’ non-capitalistic needs?
– How will our children be protected from the increased exposure to drugs, social violence, and epidemics? This determine the livelihood of our generations to come.
– Do public institutions recognize the importance of families? As there is care for individuals not families per see a more holistic approach is needed to tackle epidemics like HIV, since it a more family based matter.
Family and Sustainable Development

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Posted in community, sustainable living

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