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In September 2015, 193 countries met at the UN to adopt 17 global goals. These 17 goals provide a roadmap that would help the world achieve sustainable development. You’ve probably heard the term “sustainability” in some context or another. It is likely that you’ve used some product or service that was labeled as sustainable, or perhaps you are aware of a campus or civic organization that focuses on sustainability. You may recognize that sustainability has to do with preserving or maintaining resources—we often associate sustainability with things like recycling, using renewable energy sources like solar and wind power, and preserving natural spaces like rainforests and coral reefs. But, what exactly is sustainable development? Are there any benefits to it? Are there any local sustainable development projects? This essay focuses on all these questions, in addition to several examples.
Firstly, sustainable development is the development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. In other words, everyone understands the need to grow their economies, but not everyone takes into account the negatives that unbalanced economic growth can have on the environment and on people’s well-being. Sustainability has to do with preserving resources and energy over the long term rather than exhausting them quickly to meet short-term needs or goals. Not only is sustainable development about improving the lives of everyone everywhere, but it is also about the little details; which means that economies would grow, companies would thrive, and people would have more decent jobs. Furthermore, it is about creating new, innovative technologies without harming the environment, and about letting everyone access nutritious foods regardless of where they live. Additionally, it is about providing affordable, high-quality education for everybody and giving freedom of speech without violence as an outcome. These are all advantages that we benefit from sustainable development.
There are numerous ongoing sustainable development projects in the world. Grassroots environmental organizations like Greenpeace and the Sierra Club advocate for the protection and restoration of nature, and they lobby for changes in public policy and individual behavior to preserve the natural world in the US. In addition, more than 100,000 soda cans are recycled each minute in the United States. A billion dollar recycling industry has emerged, creating jobs and profits for the workers and business employed in that enterprise, while at the same time using limited resources more thoughtfully and reducing the impact on the environment. Furthermore, the U.A.E is also a country that has accomplished various sustainable development projects. For instance, there is the UAE Water Aid Initiative, which provides clean water and sanitation for everyone. Another example is the Noor Dubai Foundation, which aims to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for everybody at all ages. Lastly, there is the Youth Council initiative, which ensures inclusive and equitable quality education and promotes lifelong learning opportunities for everyone.
By virtue of Vision 2021, the UAE is striving to diversify its income resources by moving away from oil. In January 2012, Sheikh Mohammed launched the Green Economy initiative under the slogan: A green economy for sustainable development. Under this initiative, the UAE seeks to become a global hub and a successful model of the new green economy, to enhance the country’s competitiveness and sustainability and preserve its environment for future generations. Through this initiative, the UAE aims to become one of the world leaders in this area as well as a center for the export and re-export of green products and technologies and to maintain a sustainable environment to support long-term economic growth. The initiative includes a range of programmes and policies in the areas of energy, agriculture, investment and sustainable transport in addition to new environmental and constructional policies. The Green Economy Initiative includes six major fields covering a wide range of legislation, policies, programs, and projects. The first field of green energy aims to promote the production and use of renewable energy. The second field includes government policies aimed to encourage investments in the green economy and to facilitate the production, import, export, and re-export of green products and technologies. The third field relates to developing urban planning policies that preserve the environment and to raise the efficiency of housing and buildings environmentally. The fourth field consists of means for dealing with the effects of climate change, promote organic agriculture, maintain biodiversity and protect the ecological balance. The fifth field aims at rationalizing the use of water resources, electricity, and natural resources and recycle waste. And finally, the sixth field includes development and promotion of green technology. To sum it up, Sheikh Mohammed aims to build an economy that protects the environment as well as an environment that supports the growth of the economy.
From pollution to resource depletion, to loss of biodiversity, to climate change, a growing human footprint is evident. This is not sustainable. We need to act differently if the world and its human and non-human inhabitants are to thrive in the future. Sustainability is about how we can preserve the earth and ensure the continued survival and nourishment of future generations. You and everyone you know will be affected in some way by the choices our society makes in the future regarding the earth and its resources. In fact, your very life may well depend upon those choices.
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