Planet: Safe, Clean, Healthy

Logo for the United Nations Environmental Programme / fair use

The UN Environment Program website gives detailed information about Sustainability; the challenge taken was to make the planet safer and sustainable for humans and other living beings.  The result in 2015 was the adoption of seventeen goals with specific objectives to be achieved by 2030. These were adopted by the international community as a way to address sustainability issues and environmental injustice.

The Goals are :
1. No poverty
2. Zero Hunger
3. Good Health and Well Being
4. Quality Education
5. Gender Equality
6. Clean Water and Sanitation
7. Affordable and Clean Energy
8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
9. Industry  Innovation and Infrastructure
10. Reduced Inequalities
11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
12. Sustainable Consumption and Production
13. Climate Action
14. Life Below Water
15. Life on Land
16. Peace Justice and Strong Institutions
17. Partnerships for the Goals

 

Sustainable development is a way for people to use resources without the resources running out. This is the term used in a document entitled “Our Common Future”, otherwise known as the Brundtland Report.  Sustainable development –

 

“meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

 

“The three main pillars of sustainable development include economic growth, environmental protection, and social equality. While many people agree that each of these three ideas contribute to the overall idea of sustainability, it is difficult to find evidence of equal levels of initiatives for the three pillars in countries’ policies worldwide. With the overwhelming number of countries that put economic growth on the forefront of sustainable development, it is evident that the other two pillars have been suffering, especially with the overall well being of the environment in a dangerously unhealthy state.

 

The Brundtland Commission report puts forth a conceptual framework that many nations agree with and want to try to make a difference with in their countries, but it has been difficult to change these concepts about sustainability into concrete actions and programs. Implementing sustainable development globally is still a challenge. Because of the Brundtland Commission’s efforts, progress has been made.

 

“After releasing their report, Our Common Future, the Brundtland Commission called for an international meeting to take place where more concrete initiatives and goals could be mapped out. This meeting was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. A comprehensive plan of action, known as Agenda 21, came out of the meeting. Agenda 21 entailed actions to be taken globally, nationally, and locally in order to make life on Earth more sustainable going into the future.

 

Economic Growth is the pillar that most groups focus on when attempting to attain more sustainable efforts and development. In trying to build their economies, many countries focus their efforts on resource extraction, which leads to unsustainable efforts for environmental protection as well as economic growth sustainability. While the Commission was able to help to change the association between economic growth and resource extraction, the total worldwide consumption of resources is projected to increase in the future. So much of the natural world has already been converted into human use that the focus cannot simply remain on economic growth and omit the ever-growing problem of environmental sustainability. Agenda 21 reinforces the importance of finding ways to generate economic growth without hurting the environment. Through various trade negotiations such as improving access to markets for exports of developing countries, Agenda 21 looks to increase economic growth sustainability in countries that need it most.

 

Environmental Protection has become more important to government and businesses over the last 20 years, leading to great improvements in the number of people willing to invest in green technologies. For the second year in a row in 2010, the United States and Europe added more power capacity from renewable sources such as wind and solar. In 2011 the efforts continue with 45 new wind energy projects beginning in 25 different states. The focus on environmental protection has transpired globally as well, including a great deal of investment in renewable energy power capacity. Eco-city development occurring around the world helps to develop and implement water conservation, smart grids with renewable energy sources, LED street lights and energy efficient building. The consumption gap remains, consisting of the fact that “roughly 80 percent of the natural resources used each year are consumed by about 20 percent of the world’s population”. This level is striking and still needs to be addressed now and throughout the future.

 

The Social Equality and Equity as pillars of sustainable development focus on the social well-being of people. The growing gap between incomes of rich and poor is evident throughout the world with the incomes of the richer households increasing relative to the incomes of middle – or lower-class households.This is attributed partly to the land distribution patterns in rural areas where majority live from land. Global inequality has been declining, but the world is still extremely unequal, with the richest 1% of the world’s population owning 40% of the world’s wealth and the poorest 50% owning around 1%. The Brundtland Commission made a significant impact trying to link environment and development and thus, go away from the idea of environmental protection whereby some scholars saw environment as something of its sake. The Commission has thus reduced the number of people living on less than a dollar a day to just half of what it used to be, as many can approach the environment and use it. These achievements can also be attributed to economic growth in China and India. MORE [Wikipedia]

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Transportation is a key in addressing clean-air challenges. It drives economic activity and is fundamental to human welfare, but it has a negative impact on the environment and human health.
Transport activity is increasing around the world as economies grow, which means that the sector’s emissions are also on the rise. That’s largely because 95 per cent of the world’s transport energy still comes from fossil fuels. To achieve this goal the use of bicycles and electric cars is advised.
My visits to the once peaceful tourist hill station of Abbottabad reveals the considerable increase in the number of vehicles in the city. Roads were cleaner emptier and quieter in the 1980s even but gradually the population registered a substantial increase and so did the transport. Now in the current decade it has been declared as the Gateway to China under the CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor) program, resulting in more traffic and transport means.
Bicycling is not possible due to the heavy traffic and hilly areas but electric cars may replace those running on petrol.
The UN  program on Transport encourages the following measures:
1.Share the road
2.Electric mobility
3.Global Clean Ports
4.Global Fuel Economy Initiative
5. Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles.
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Village Cycling in Sri Lanka courtesy of Anton Croos under CC BY-SA 3.0
A short Note on Cycling
Cycling leads to a longer and healthier life.

 

Cycling is popular for a variety of reasons. It helps to reduce the risk of diabetes, some forms of cancer, cardiovascular diseases and depression. Research from the United Kingdom found that cycling to work is linked with a 45 per cent lower risk of developing cancer, and a 46 per cent lower risk of cardiovascular disease, compared to commuting by car or public transport.

 

The health benefits of cycling daily rather than taking a car for short trips outweigh the risks of inhalation of air pollutants. Daily exercise prolongs life expectancy by approximately 3.4 years whereas inhalation of polluted air reduces life expectancy by 1 to 40 days. Regular cycling boosts physical fitness and is an efficient way to prevent obesity.For further information please visit: Cycling, A Better Mode of Transport.

 

Compiled by Anjum Wasim Dar

Author:

The focus of "The BeZine," a publication of The Bardo Group Beguines, is on sacred space (common ground) as it is expressed through the arts. Our work covers a range of topics: spirituality, life, death, personal experience, culture, current events, history, art, and photography and film. We share work here that is representative of universal human values however differently they might be expressed in our varied religions and cultures. We feel that our art and our Internet-facilitated social connection offer a means to see one another in our simple humanity, as brothers and sisters, and not as “other.” This is a space where we hope you’ll delight in learning how much you have in common with “other” peoples. We hope that your visits here will help you to love (respect) not fear. For more see our Info/Mission Statement Page.

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