ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY: HOW DO WE GET THERE?
Sustainability has been given several definitions by different schools of thought. The Google dictionary defined sustainability as, “avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance.” According to Wikipedia, “Sustainability is the ability to exist constantly. In the 21st century, it refers generally to the capacity for the biosphere and human civilization to coexist”. Likewise, Investopedia in its sustainable business article said “Sustainability focuses on meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.”
Whichever way we look at it, sustainability can be summarized in three words “Responsible Consumption and Production”
Doing a quick assessment of our present situation, it is obvious that whatever we have been doing is the direct opposite of sustainability. Resources are being depleted at a very faster rate, plant and animal species are going extinct; not naturally but due to the action of humans. Our weather pattern is changing, the ozone layer is depleting rapidly and hundreds of thousand years old glaciers are melting.
The answer lies in the UN Sustainable development goal 12; Responsible Production and Consumption. Achieving economic growth and sustainable development without compromising the ability of the future generation to meet their needs takes a lot of discipline. It requires that we urgently reduce our ecological footprint by changing the way we produce and consume goods and resources.
The efficient management of our shared natural resources and the way we dispose toxic waste and pollutants are important targets to achieve this goal. Encouraging industries, businesses and consumers to recycle and reduce waste is equally important. There is also the need to support developing countries to move towards more sustainable patterns of consumption by 2030.
A large share of the world population is still consuming far too little to meet even their basic needs. Halving the per capita of global food waste at the retailer and consumer levels is also important to create more efficient production and supply chains. This can help with food security, and shift us towards a more resource-efficient economy.
As a matter of urgency, we need to ditch our old linear model of consumption and adopt the circular economy. To put in perspective, Wikipedia defined circular economy as “eliminating waste and the continual use of resources.”
Circular systems employ recycling, reuse and refurbishment to create a closed system. It thereby minimizes the use of resource input and the creation of waste. This regenerative approach is in contrast with the traditional linear economy, which has a ‘take, make, dispose’ model of production.
We owe it to the future to do the right thing. Let’s save our planet by living sustainably.