sustainabilityyy!

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If this is you, bear with me!

Hi everyone!

I made a realisation that my previous post was really content heavy and informative though this is suppose to be an informal blog 😉 Do bear with my geekiness for these few posts. This may sound really weird but when I was composing the previous post, I felt so happy doing research and I was eagerly citing away. I was either really excited or that was just the excess caffeine talking… hmmm…

Anyway, I really hope to set the correct tone and lay a good groundwork for the many cool things I will hope to explore in the following weeks! 🙂 I really hope that new readers will be less intimidated by terms like crowdsourcing, sustainability and environmental but grow to have a better understanding of them!


 

Let’s talk about… SUSTAINABILITY!

Somehow, any word with more than 10 alphabets is pretty intimidating to me! Hahah! We hear this word being thrown around so often but when asked for the definition, not many know what it actually means! Well.. let’s find out!

“Sustainability is the capacity for our society to endure and at least achieve a basic quality of life” – SustainAbility Ltd. [1]

“Sustainability calls for a decent standard of living for everyone today without compromising the needs of future generations.” – United Nations [2]

These definitions are commonly quoted and they focus on two main aspects:

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1) Sustainability: Focus on TODAY

Firstly, sustainability focuses on pursuing growth and a certain degree of development to allow all to enjoy a decent living standard TODAY. Being sustainable is not about being so conservative that we over compromise on our present state of living.

 

2) Sustainability: Focus on TOMORROW

Secondly, sustainability focuses on allowing our society to endure and be sufficient for the generations in the future. The great interconnectivity of actors (e.g. businesses, communities, government and more) have to work together to preserve the earth and it resources.

Today, in class, I learnt the concept of using backcasting [3] which requires one to imagine an ideal future and then take concrete steps to achieve it. This is of great relevance to a sustainable tomorrow/future because actors of society need to imagine a world that still exist in XXX years time.

For example, governments may want the future generation to enjoy the biodiversity we see around us today. Policies can be catered to preserving the environment. Communities may want to build a place that they belong at home and community activities can be conducted.

What do you think are important components to save for the future?

For me, strong family ties, a clean, peaceful and lively environment and a decent quality of life are components I hope the future generation can still enjoy!

With this knowledge of sustainability, we can better analyse if people are using this word for the right purpose.

One example where the use of the word sustainability is debatable is this:

Recently, Nestlé Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe argued that privatisation of water y668gmakes our water resources more sustainable in the long run [4]. According to an interview [4], Peter Brabeck-Letmathe actually agreed with UN that water is scarce and something has to be done to distribute it to the poor. His intention was to privatise water and take away the right of free water and toiletry infrastructure and resources, channel the profits to support other nations and enjoy a more sustainable usage of water. Well, Milton Friedman probably is smiling at Peter Brabeck-Letmathe for pushing for privatise and using the argument that it is sustainable. However, many are begging to disagree.

Well, I am quite skeptical of Peter Brabeck-Letmathe too. Don’t get me wrong, I think that in a perfect market with privatisation may work. However, in truth, many individuals have raised the red flag saying that privatisation in an imperfect market will only lead to higher rates [5] and, hence, water will only go to those who can afford it. People today may be robbed off this basic necessity. Furthermore, privatisation of public goods often leads to corruption, wholesale water exports and fall in quality [6]. With time, privatisation is going to be too tough to reverse. So is privatisation of public goods sustainable? Or is this word used too often by companies as a promise to communities but actually serve a negative agenda?

We will discuss more when we talk about “crowdsourcing for environment by corporations” and will explore the positive and negative points of corporations who aim for sustainability. Stay in tune for more!

Cheers, Corinne

next up: Differentiating that 4 types of sustainability


 

Sources:

[1] Sustainability: Can our future endure? by SustainAbility Ltd. Retrieved on January 28, 2016 from http://www.sustainability.com/sustainability

[2] UN: What is Sustainability? The future we want. Retrieved on January 28, 2016 from http://www.un.org/en/sustainablefuture/sustainability.shtml

[3] The Natural Step: What is backcasting? Retrieved on January 28, 2016 from http://www.thenaturalstep.org/sustainability/backcasting/

[4] Does Nestlé Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe believe that water is a human right? Retrieved on January 28, 2016 from http://www.nestle.com/ask-nestle/human-rights/answers/nestle-chairman-peter-brabeck-letmathe-believes-water-is-a-human-right

[5] Top 10 reasons to oppose water privatisation by Public Citizen. Retrieved on January 28, 2016 from https://www.citizen.org/documents/Top_10_(PDF).pdf

[6] Privatisation and commodification by Flow for love of water. Retrieved on January 28, 2016 from http://flowforwater.org/issues/privatization/

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