What is sustainability? What does it mean for you?
At its most basic, sustainability is the idea that we can all share this planet without destroying each other or being destroyed by our environment. That means growing food, building houses and keeping warm without causing ecological breakdown or spiralling into conflict and war.
We need sustainable communities if we’re going to have any hope of mitigating the impact climate change and economic downturn.
That means not just throwing up some eco-houses in urban areas, but also restoring our countryside so it has a buffer against flooding and droughts, as well as creating communities that have resilience to the knock on effect to job losses from environmental destruction. And it’s important for all of us to understand what sustainability means because we need all hands on deck.
It’s about protecting our natural environment and planning for the future across the world. We’re all part of a global society now and that means thinking about how to live sustainably is a global challenge too.
What is sustainable development?
Sustainable development is the term that was created to add a focus on human well-being and environmental protection into development policies. This new approach stresses that development must seek to meet our needs without endangering the earth, its resources or future generations. For sustainable development to be possible there has therefore to be a change of mindset which looks at the long-term implications of our actions and policies.
Sustainable development (as defined by the Brundtland Report ) is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This requires a commitment to equity and social justice.
Why is sustainable development important?
Sustainable development matters because it determines who benefits from the use of natural resources, impacts of economic production, and other factors that affect our lives. It also shapes our planet’s land and oceans by influencing the ways in which we produce food as well as how we waste and dispose of waste. Natural resources must be available to all citizens and future generations, not only the few who are able to control them or profit from their exploitation.
How does inequality affect sustainable development?
Today there is a massive gap between rich and poor countries. There is also an extreme concentration of wealth in the hands of a small minority of the global population, and within these countries there is a divide between rich and poor. This means that even in the most advanced economies, many people lack access to basic services such as education, health care, food and housing. Within poor countries, too often those responsible for managing natural resources are not accountable to the communities that bear the costs of extraction.
What is the difference between inequality and poverty?
Inequality refers to large differences in incomes, wealth, power and access to basic services such as education, health care and clean water. Poverty refers to an inability to meet our most basic human needs. The divide between rich and poor countries has led many people in developing countries to live on less than $1 a day. In the wake of natural disasters, poverty increases as people lose their jobs and homes.
Corporate Sustainability: Is it a thing?
Corporate sustainability is the idea that business will play an important role in creating a sustainable society. There’s no doubt that companies – and people working for them – can have massive impacts on our planet. But what are they doing to shoulder the burden of making things better? Is sustainability being used by companies as just another marketing phrase or are they really making the effort to preserve our health, wealth and happiness? I want to find out.
Sustainable Travel: Getting you there without breaking anything.
We’re all going places these days – whether it’s for work, leisure, education or just a quick trip down the shops. But how much do we think about how we get there? Whether it’s catching the bus, driving a car or flying on a plane; all of those things have an impact – whether it’s in terms of money, pollution or our own mental wellbeing. I want to find out exactly what sustainable travel means for you.
Community Sustainability: Helping the people, not just the planet.
Sustainability isn’t all about what’s happening on a global scale – it’s also about making small changes in our everyday lives that have a lasting impact. It can be as simple as swapping your plastic bag for a reusable one or taking shorter showers to save water and energy. I want to find out what sustainable living really looks like for people in their own communities.
Sustainable Cities: Re-designing to live up to our name.
These days, more than half of the world’s population lives in cities and this statistic is only expected to increase. So how are we going to accommodate them all without destroying everything that’s already there? Some of the world’s largest cities have already implemented major changes to improve air quality and make places safer and more attractive to live. I want to find out what sustainable living looks like in the modern world.
Sustainable Business: Doing good by doing well.
Businesses can have a massive impact on our society – and vice versa – and sustainable business is becoming more and more about making sure that both the planet and people are treated fairly by any company. But what does it actually mean? What steps can we take to make our businesses better for the world as well us?
Sustainable Energy: Keeping the lights on without getting too hot.
While renewable energy sources like solar and wind are undoubtedly helping us power our homes, offices, businesses and cars, there’s still a long way to go before we can give up fossil fuels entirely. But how do we know if something is sustainable? And what can we do to help?
Sustainable Food: Giving plate a whole new meaning.
We’re eating more junk food than ever before – and while the logic behind that might make sense at first glance, it’s not really doing us any favours. We want to find out how we can eat better, healthier food in order to live more sustainably.
Sustainable Fashion: Looking good, feeling good.
Fashion is one of the biggest industries on our planet – and one that has a massive impact on everything from our waistlines to the state of our world. I want you to help me find out what sustainable fashion means to you.
The Business of Sustainability: How the world is working together.
While many companies are embracing sustainability to make their businesses better, a few have really been taking it upon themselves to set an example to the rest of the world – and leading by example. I want to find out what they’re doing – and whether it’s making a difference.
The Future of Sustainability: Where we go from here.
No matter how hard we try, everyone makes mistakes now and then – but there are far worse things than that in life; like not trying at all. I want to find out where you see sustainability going in the future.
What can you do? Where is your sustainable story?
Are you a corporate giant, leading the way for your industry? A young entrepreneur or small business owner looking to make a difference? Or are you just an everyday person making small changes in your life to slow down climate change and protect the environment?
There are plenty of ways you can get involved with the Sustainability Project, and I want to hear from you!