It is not uncommon to hear people speaking of sustainability. In fact, it was firstly described in the 1987 Bruntland Commission Report as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Even now, the United Nation (UN) along with other organizations and firms are putting emphasis on this overarching paradigm. This is because they have realized on the journey to achieve this ultimate goal, many countries can resolve lots of resilience problems along the way, for instance, poverty, famine, global warming, and so on.
To realize this vision, we need to foster a sustainable world through sustainable development. There are four intertwined facets of sustainable development, which are society, environment, culture and economy respects, and are divided into 17 sustainable development goals (SDG).
In view of the societal aspect, we need to educate the public, particularly youngsters to understand their environmental impacts in order to inculcate sustainability mindsets. The reason why we should stress on education is because illiteracy indicates that people, especially in third world countries, do not possess the knowledge and skills to understand the SDGs. With education, they could take initiatives to change local communities. Therefore, education is a vital step to transform this world.
On the environmental aspect, climate change is a threat not only to the economy, but also to our society. Our reckless behaviours on deforestation, indiscriminate energy usage, intensive agriculture, to name but three, had intensified global warming. Though these issues may seem distant in Hong Kong, we are undeniably affected by these issues. As a result, our actions and attitudes matter in alleviating climate change.
For the cultural aspect, many countries, particularly patriarchal societies, tend to confine women’s autonomy. Henceforth, women could not express themselves freely, thus exacerbating gender inequality. Therefore, to increase women’ acceptance within a community, we must take the lead against the orthodox social norms as a starting point to empowering women. This is only one of the examples to resolve inequality, and there are lots of social inequalities that hamper people to explore their potential. We must build a fair system to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
In the light of the economic aspect, many business firms have placed their business operations based on corporate social responsibility (CSR) in order to strive a balance among people, planet and profits. Some corporations even take part in brand activism which represents a brand taking their stance toward an issue, for instance, against racial discrimination. Companies’ engagement in various social issues is crucial to achieve SDGs since citizens as customers to firms could change their perceptions toward issues, thus gingerly shifting social norms.
Let’s advance to achieve sustainable development today!