Advancement, or progress, literally means to move forward. Advancement is always a positive movement. However, the concept of humanity’s advancement or progress is not a monolith, but rather a diversified concept whose aspects require differentiation.
The concept of sustainable advancement addresses the socio-economic development and well-being of every human being. Successful long-term sustainability considers the role of all forms of resources and capital—natural, biological, social, technological, financial, cultural—and the complex ways in which they interact. All these forms of capital derive their value, utility and application from human capital – mental capacity and awareness, creativity and social innovation. Productivity in human capital heavily depends on knowledge, science and technology and their application.
Our advancement as a species is deeply linked with our knowledge and understanding of the natural and physical world (science) and application of its principles (engineering) and the advancement of technology (the application of science to the solution of technical problems). From discovering the technological potential of fire more than 250,000 years ago to developing watermills as a source of power in the medieval ages, technologies significantly affect human as well as other animal species’ ability to control and adapt to their natural environments.
Due to the dynamic nature of our contemporary society, the relationship between the domains of science and technology has never been stronger, and continued technological progress is beneficial to individuals and humanity as a whole. Science and technology have made possible the physical unification of the planet and made evident the interdependence of all nations and peoples.
We are all co-creators of an ever-advancing civilization. Knowledge, science and technology inspire new ideas, better solutions to problems, and the improvement of existing technological and social interventions – invention and innovation. They facilitate greater scientific understanding of life and the universe, and help us understand and gain greater control over our environment by means of tools and machines. With technology and knowledge, we can manage and utilize our natural resources better for the benefit of all life and our planet.
It is difficult to deny the overall impact of industrial development on the global environment. From the pollution, climate change, depletion of mineral and organic resources, ecological devastation, poverty and starvation and global inequity – the direct and indirect effects of industrial activity over time have been intensely detrimental. When a population grows too much and consumes too many resources recklessly, it collapses before a new ecological balance with the environment and other species is reached.
In a modern world looking to drastically reduce carbon emissions and discover and develop the technologies of the future, sustainability is the concept that attempts to bridge social and environmental science with engineering and technology.
Sustainability and sustainable advancement and development focus on balancing that fine line between competing needs – our need to move forward technologically, economically and socially, and the needs to protect the environments in which we and others live. While sustainable technologies and processes are not necessarily a magic bullet, the focus on minimizing the damage. Therefore, creating sustainable production and supply systems makes a real difference.
Ultimately, the benefits of sustainability go beyond its positive impact on our environment. Sustainability also impacts our well-being and advancement as a society and ensures that no people or areas of life suffer. It’s also about examining the longer-term effects of the actions humanity takes and asking questions about how to improve all areas of life. Not only is it the key to survival, but positive change, or advancement for all of humanity will help us find ways to overcome challenges and limitations and unravel the mysteries of life and the universe. Sustainable advancement, or progress, is therefore a process and must always be the foremost goal of any individual or society that aims to scale the greatest peaks and achieve the loftiest goals.
For Meru Oaks, technology and knowledge transfer for sustainable industry, innovation and advancement is not simply a matter of expanding access to material resources. Rather, it is an endeavor of structural and social transformation on individuals and communities. The magnitude of this mission calls for new ways of understanding individual human beings and society as a whole, and our synergy with all other life and the universe. It requires improved thinking about the future and new vantage points from which to explore challenges, assess realities, and imagine solutions.