The Role of Knowledge for Sustainable Development

Submitted by Arthur Dahl on 29. May 2011 - 15:57
Moser, Bettina Angela

5th Annual Conference of the International Environment Forum
19-21 October 2001, Hluboka nad Vltavou, Czech Republic

The Role of Knowledge for Sustainable Development

Bettina Angela Moser

[This paper is as presented at the Conference, and has not been subject to editorial review by the IEF]

"Knowledge is as wings to man's life and a ladder for his ascent. Its acquisition is incumbent to everyone." 1

To consider the role of knowledge in sustainable development I first would like to discuss the meaning of "knowledge".

What is "knowledge"? A concise definition is through its antonym "ignorance". Ignorance implies a "..lack of 'knowledge', awareness, comprehension, education, intelligence....". To have knowledge implies "to have understanding of, to recognize the nature of, to be acquainted or familiar with, to have experience of, to be aware of the truth or factuality of, to have a practical understanding of ..." (from Merriam-Webster Dictionary).

"It is not desirable that a man be left without knowledge or skills, for he is then but a barren tree. Then, so much as capacity and capability allow, ye needs must deck the tree of being with fruits such as knowledge, wisdom, spiritual perception and eloquent speech." 1

A thorough understanding of all the facets of a particular subject is required to make informed choices and wise decisions and has enabled mankind to achieve tremendous accomplishments, touching on all aspects of life. Yet exploitation and destruction often prevail, in part due to the fact that man's motivations determine how knowledge is used: to the well-being or to the detriment of humankind.

"Know verily that Knowledge is of two kinds: Divine and Satanic. The one welleth out from the fountain of divine inspiration; the other is but a reflection of vain and obscure thoughts. The source of the former is God Himself; the motive-force of the latter the whisperings of selfish desire." 1

Taking into consideration this brief discourse on knowledge, it seems evident that a sustainable society cannot be realized without:

- · detailed and thorough knowledge of all the different disciplines involved in sustainable development
- · wise and judicial implementation of this knowledge

"In the estimation of the people of Bahá man's glory lieth in his knowledge, his upright conduct, his praiseworthy character, his wisdom, and not in his nationality or rank." 1


1 Reciting the Verses of God. Spiritual Virtues and Practices. Selected Passages from the Writings of Báhá'u'lláh. Bahá'í Publishing Trust, New Delhi, India. Revised Pocket-Size Edition, 1997.

Last updated 17 October 2001