Let's Build Sustainable Societies

Aug 23, 2021|13Climate Action

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In previous articles, we talked about how "cows can heat the world," creating climate change via the greenhouse effect.

In this article, we want to focus on solutions to the climate change problem. 

The United Nations Sustainability Goal 13, Climate Change - target 13.2 focuses on integrating climate change measures into national policies, strategies, and planning. This might sound easier said than done, and it may be a very lengthy process. However, it's all looking very promising. As of March 31st, 2021, 125 developing countries have developed national adaptation plans to ensure environmental conservation. Moreover, according to the UN figures, 6 least developed countries have also completed a national adaptation plan. 

These are all steps in the right direction. 


What Does This Mean? 

Imagine you didn't have any rules to follow at home or school. It would be chaos, and everyone would do whatever they wanted. Dirty laundry on the floor? Messy rooms, pizza on the counter. Sure, it would be cool at first to do whatever you want without any rules, but eventually, you will run out of clean clothes, food to eat, and places to sleep. 

And then what?

The same happens with our natural resources and the environment. If we all take and use as we wish without adhering to any rules or taking precautions, we would soon run out of resources. Therefore all nations must plan actions now before it's too late. 

According to scientists, global emissions should be cut to 45% below 2010 levels by 2030 to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. The key to making this happen is in working together. All nations have to participate, or at least most governments must commit to making adaptations to prevent or decrease global warming and carbon footprint. 


National Sustainable Development Strategies (NSDS)

The concept of the National Sustainable Development Strategies (NSDS) was proposed in 1992 in Agenda 21. Here, countries were called upon to integrate economic, social, and environmental objectives into one strategically focused blueprint for action at the national level. 

However, the trick is that not all nations are made the same. Each country has its own political, historical, cultural, and ecological circumstances. Therefore, by the early 2000's only about 85 countries had developed some form of national strategies, and the nature and effectiveness of each plan varied considerably from country to country. So it was determined that every country needs to determine how best to approach the preparation and implementation of its national sustainable development strategy depending on their circumstances. 

For this reason, we now have the UN Sustainability Goals 17 SDGs

Earth Overshoot Day

In 2021, Earth Overshoot Day (EOD) took place on July 29th. This day is calculated annually as a date on the calendar in which humanity's resource consumption for the year exceeds Earth's capacity to regenerate those resources that year. In other words, on July 29th, 2021, we had already used all the natural resources we had for the year 2021. So we are now 'borrowing' from 2022. 

EOD is calculated by dividing the world's biocapacity (the amount of natural resources generated by Earth that year), by the world ecological footprint (humanity's consumption of Earth's natural resources for that year), and multiplying by 365 (366 in leap years), the number of days in a year. 

Earth Overshoot Day has faced criticism for not considering water and land mismanagement (like soil erosion numbers) and relying heavily on carbon dioxide data. However, EOD can undoubtedly serve as a reminder of our impact on the environment. 

We are consuming faster than Earth can produce, and we do not have a planet B. So our actions today will impact tomorrow. 

What Can You Do to Help?

It is not all doom and gloom. YOU are the generation of tomorrow, and therefore every little action today can help. 

  • Motivate your family and friends to recycle at home, office, and school 
  • Write a letter to your local council asking about environmental policies in the area. Get involved! 
  • Start a group, online or at home/school to educate people about the impacts of their everyday actions and their carbon footprint. 
  • Eat less meat, even if for only one day a week! Find new plant-based recipes to try with friends and family. 
  • Opt for natural ornaments, Christmas trees, birthday presents, etc., over plastic ones. 
  • Visit your local library or exchange books with friends and family rather than buying new books. 
  • Learn about environmentally friendly local businesses. 

Education and collaboration are the keys to sustainability both at a local and a national level. 

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Thinking Cap On

What kinds of sustainable ideas, rules, or policies do you think you can implement at home or school? Can you draft a short-term and a long-term plan to make your house and school a greener place? Think about recycling policies, reusing resources, and ways in which you can help people save time, energy, or money. 

Discuss with your classroom or family. What changes can you start straight away?