1. The definition of sustainability

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What is sustainability?

You might think sustainability is just about protecting the environment. And that's a big part of it! With climate change and looming environmental concerns, sustainability involves preserving fragile ecological balance through initiatives such as renewable resources, recycling, pollution and waste management, habitat protection, and nature conservation.

But really, sustainability goes beyond that and doesn’t have a single or simple definition.

It’s not only natural resources we need to be thinking about, but also social and economic. This more holistic approach requires us to interrogate our established societal and economic systems, such as education and linear economy, and determine what changes are required for a long-term harmonious co-existence with both the natural world and man-made infrastructures. 

The importance of social and economic sustainability is reflected in the United Nations sustainable development agenda. Watch the video below, to learn more about the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (or SDGs).

Keeping these goals in mind, we will adopt this bird’s-eye view on sustainability, as it provides a more accurate representation of the complex interplay among environment, economy, and society. It underscores that individual choices and behavioural patterns, however small they may seem at first, can make a powerful contribution to sustainable living and development, but also recognises the role that large-scale corporations and policymakers have to play.

For your first activity, we want to you head to page 3 of your Memobook, and list local and global examples of sustainability initiatives that fall under each of these three categories.

This will help you identify what areas within sustainability interest you the most and give you a starting point for brainstorming a sustainability initiative 💪

Once you've done that, you're ready to head to the next page!

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