Sustainable Development

How to Contribute to Sustainable Development

Sustainable development is defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” The concept of needs goes beyond simply material needs and includes values, relationships, as well as the freedoms to think, act and participate – all amounting to sustainable living, morally and spiritually.

It is such a crucial subject that in 2012, the United Nations met to discuss and develop a set of goals to work towards. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) eventually came up with a list of 17 items that included, amongst other things:

  • the end of poverty and hunger
  • better standards of education and healthcare, particularly as it pertains to water quality and better sanitation
  • to achieve gender equality
  • sustainable economic growth while promoting jobs and stronger economies
  • sustainability to include health of the land, air and sea

As this is an issue that all countries are facing and we all want to leave a better world for future generations, here are a few tips on how each and everyone can contribute to save our planet.

  1. Good Health and Well-Being

    This refers to reducing the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents.

    – Don’t drink and drive

    – Lower the speed while driving

    – Drive considerately


  2. Responsible Consumption and Production

    This refers to reducing the global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses.

    – Don’t “overbuy” – plan meals and use shopping lists

    – Freeze fresh products and leftovers if you don’t have the chance to eat them before they go bad

    – Eat less meat, poultry and fish. Producing meat takes a lot more resources than producing plants.

    – Buy and eat seasonal produce from local growers

  1. Reduced Inequalities

    This refers to empowering and promoting the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin or religious belief.

    – Don’t be judgmental to differences but be open-minded

    – Embrace differences and learn from people different than you

    – Be helpful, be a friend and take your time to listen to peoples’ different opinions and situations

  1. Responsible Consumption and Production

    This refers to substantially reducing waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse.

    – Donate what you don’t need – clothes, books, furniture or food. By donating, you also contribute to other goals aiming towards no poverty, zero hunger and reducing inequalities.

    – Shop second-hand or trade clothes with colleagues, friends or family

    – Use refillable water bottles and coffee cups

    – Use reusable cloth bags rather than plastic


  2. Decent Work and Economic Growth

    This refers to drastically reducing the proportion of youth not in employment, education or training.

    – Encourage youth to work and get an education

    – Provide jobs, trainee spots and internships

    – Inspire youth by showing the value of having a job, earning your own money and being able to provide yourself and your family

    – Show value in contributing to society

  1. Clean Water and Sanitation

    Sustainable Development Goal #6: Clean Water and Sanitatio… | Flickr

    This refers to achieving universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water.

    – Convince your company to commit to a water, sanitation and hygiene pledge (WASH). This will not only help keep your community clean but set a standard and expectation for others to follow, including your competitors.

  1. Sustainable Cities and Communities

    More and more people are packing into urban areas each year. The sustainability of cities is vital to the future of humanity but they are eating up our natural resources. As big consumers of energy, businesses can take the lead in reducing energy consumption by investing in renewable energy resources such as solar, wind and biofuel.

As we move forward, we can all continue in our resolutions for the new millennium – ensuring that no one is left behind on the way to a safer, happier future.

What is your way of contributing to the goals? Share your thoughts in the comment section below because there is no such thing as too many ideas when it comes to making the world a better place.

The Rio Declaration – Part 2

In the first article, we discussed the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development and the objectives behind the conference. We also briefly touched on the Rio Declaration. Today, let’s take a closer look at the first fifteen principles of the declaration.

Principle 1

Human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development. They are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature.

Principle 2

States have, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and the principles 13 of international law, the sovereign right to exploit their own resources pursuant to their own environmental and developmental policies, and the responsibility to ensure that activities within their jurisdiction or control do not cause damage to the environment of other States or of areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction.

Principle 3

The right to development must be fulfilled so as to equitable meet developmental and environmental needs of present and future generations.

Principle 4

In order to achieve sustainable development, environmental protection shall constitute an integral part of the development process and cannot be considered in isolation from it.

Principle 5

All States and all people shall cooperate in the essential task of eradicating poverty as an indispensable requirement for sustainable development, in order to decrease the disparities in standards of living and better meet the needs of the majority of the people of the world.

Principle 6

The special situation and needs of developing countries, particularly the least developed and those most environmentally vulnerable, shall be given special priority. International actions in the field of environment and development should also address the interests and needs of all countries.

Principle 7

States shall cooperate in a spirit of global partnership to conserve, protect and restore the health and integrity of the earth’s ecosystem. In view of the different contributions to global environmental degradation, States have common but differentiated responsibilities. The developed countries acknowledge the responsibility that they bear in the international pursuit of sustainable development in view of the pressures their societies place on the global environment and of the technologies and financial resources they command.

Principle 8

To achieve sustainable development and a higher quality of life for all people, States should reduce and eliminate unsustainable patterns of production and consumption and promote appropriate demographic policies.

Principle 9

States should cooperate to strengthen endogenous capacity-building for sustainable development by improving scientific understanding through exchanges of scientific and technological knowledge, and by enhancing the development, adaptation, diffusion and transfer of technologies, including new and innovative technologies.

Principle 10

Environmental issues are best handled with the participation of all concerned citizens, at the relevant level. At the national level, each individual shall have appropriate access to information concerning the environment that is held by public authorities, including information on hazardous materials and activities in their communities, and the opportunity to participate in decision-making processes. States shall facilitate and encourage public awareness and participation by making information widely available. Effective access to judicial and administrative proceedings, including redress and remedy, shall be provided.

Principle 11

States shall enact effective environmental legislation. Environmental standards, management objectives and priorities should reflect the environmental and developmental context to which they apply. Standards applied by some countries may be inappropriate and of unwarranted economic and social cost to other countries, in particular developing countries.

Principle 12

States should cooperate to promote a supportive and open international economic system that would lead to economic growth and sustainable development in all countries, to better address the problems of environmental degradation. Trade policy measures for environmental purposes should not constitute a means of arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination or a disguised restriction on international trade. Unilateral actions to deal with environmental challenges outside the jurisdiction of the importing country should be avoided. Environmental measures addressing transboundary or global environmental problems should, as far as possible, be based on an international consensus.

Principle 13

States shall develop national law regarding liability and compensation for the victims of pollution and other environmental damage. States shall also cooperate in an expeditious and more determined manner to develop further international law regarding liability and compensation for adverse effects of environmental damage caused by activities within their jurisdiction or control to areas beyond their jurisdiction.

Principle 14

States should effectively cooperate to discourage or prevent the relocation and transfer to other States of any activities and substances that cause severe environmental degradation or are found to be harmful to human health.

Principle 15

In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.

What do you think of the above principles? Please share your comments!

The Rio Declaration

There is no doubt that earth has suffered a lot due to several harmful human activities. However, in 1992, the United Nations finally acknowledged the problem of global warming and came up with the Rio Declaration. In this article, we will look at the UN conference and the measure taken in the conference.

The Earth Summit

File:United Nations Headquarters, Geneva.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

In June 2012, a conference was held by the United Nations in Rio de Janeiro, which is called the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development or the Earth Summit. It was a conference created to unite the member states to cooperate together internationally and address urgent problems of environmental protection and socio-economic development. It was known as the largest gathering of leaders worldwide, with 117 heads of state and 178 representatives of different nations. It was a platform where some treaties and important documents were signed and where different countries committed themselves to the pursuit of economic and sustainable development.

The following issues were addressed during the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit:

  • A systematic analysis of certain production patterns such as the production of toxic components like lead in gasoline or poisonous waste includes radioactive chemicals.


  • Find alternative sources of energy to replace the use of fossil fuels.


  • A change in the public transportation systems to reduce vehicle emissions, traffic congestion in cities and the health conditions caused by pollutants and dirt particles.


  • The rise in water consumption and its insufficient supply.

This conference was considered a remarkable achievement for both the United Nations and the whole world as it helped answer the most important questions faced by human civilisation. However, now we will shift our focus to the Rio Declaration, which is one of the most important documents that resulted from the summit.

Rio Declaration on Environment and Development

The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, also known as the Rio Declaration, was composed during the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. But what is the document about? It compiles 27 principles that emphasise on the importance of preserving the environment and achieving sustainable development. The principles serve as guidelines and a path to a more green and sustainable world.

The Stockholm Declaration on the Human Environment was the predecessor of the Rio Declaration that was created in 1972 during another United Nations Conference on the Human Environment. Read the following to know what was proclaimed during the conference:

Man is both creature and moulder of his environment, which gives him physical sustenance and affords him the opportunity for intellectual, moral, social and spiritual growth. In the long and tortuous evolution of the human race on this planet a stage has been reached when, through the rapid acceleration of science and technology, man has acquired the power to transform his environment in countless ways and on an unprecedented scale. Both aspects of man’s environment, the natural and the man-made, are essential to his well-being and to the enjoyment of basic human rights the right to life itself.

However, we see around us growing evidence of man-made harm in many regions of the earth: dangerous levels of pollution in water, air, earth and living beings; major and undesirable disturbances to the ecological balance of the biosphere; destruction and depletion of irreplaceable resources; and gross deficiencies, harmful to the physical, mental and social health of man, in the man-made environment, particularly in the living and working environment.

Hence, the protection and improvement of the human environment is a major issue which affects the well-being of peoples and economic development throughout the world; it is the urgent desire of the peoples of the whole world and the duty of all Governments.”

Now let us come back to the Rio Declaration. Did you know that it was subjected to much criticism? Like me, you must wonder why this declaration was met with disappointment. Thing is according to Maurice Strong, a Canadian businessman that was also served as Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Rio Declaration did not met his expectations of producing an “Earth Charter.”

However, what are your views about the Rio declaration? Please share your comments!