The world’s population continues to grow. The demands of meeting the need for housing, food, energy, and a decent livelihood continue to exert pressure on the Earth’s already strained natural resources. Development is unstoppable, but this must be done without causing irreversible harm to the planet that we call home. Sustainable development is the answer to this challenge.
Remembering Our Natural Resources
The world’s current population is about 7.5 billion, and the annual growth is about 1.2 percent. 20 years ago, we had just breached the 6 billion mark. The need to convert more land into residential buildings, industrial sites, and cities is great. Power stations need to ramp up their operations to supply more electricity for all of these activities, and new ones must be erected as well. In all this construction and development work, what happens to the Earth’s resources?
This planet is the only one we know of that can sustain human life. Rich natural resources and just the right distance from the sun make this possible. Some of the natural resources that we have include the atmosphere from where we get the oxygen we need for respiration. There is the water that makes up a significant percentage of the Earth’s surface. We also have various energy sources at our disposal including the sun, rich fossil fuel deposits, wind, and water. The land itself is a great resource where we can live and farm.
Some of the activities that harm these natural resources include unsustainable building and farming practices, air and water pollution, and a heavy reliance on fossil fuel energy. Extensive deforestation also threatens the natural habitats of many animals and impacts the level of carbon dioxide we have in the atmosphere, which is responsible for the Greenhouse Effect. There are many activities that happen in the solar system and on this planet in particular that are outside of human control, but it is evident that human activity impacts the condition of the Earth and quality of life we can enjoy here.
Defining Sustainable Development
Sustainable development is a broad topic that looks at how human beings can continue development activities in a sustainable manner. Sustainability is all about protecting the Earth’s resources and making sure that natural ecosystems and resources are not adversely affected. Sustainability considers the impact of our current actions on the future of the planet and the lives of those who are going to live here in the coming decades and centuries.
There is a lot that goes into ingraining sustainable practices into human economic and developmental activities. It requires training, policy changes, and financial investments. Research into better building materials and alternative sources of energy is essential. We also have to look into understanding the effect our actions have on the planet. One of the greatest tools to help in this research is advanced data analysis and technology solutions. Information sharing and global collaboration are also vital to sustainable development. After all, when it comes to things such as pollution and climate change, anyone can be affected. This means that the consequences of unsustainable practices of the next person, company, or region of the world add up and ultimately influence anyone and everyone. That is why global bodies such as the United Nations (UN) have made sustainable development a priority item for their goals.
The United Nations and Sustainable Development
The UN has a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) it has adopted since September 2015. These goals form the global body’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. These goals cover a wide variety of issues affecting the world population. These include poverty alleviation, clean water and energy, education, health, industry and innovation, and climate action.