Throughout the globe, countries and societies prioritize environmental sustainability by following sustainable development pathways, including social and economic improvements. Even in the Philippines, people can see sustainable cities here and there as they aim to meet the worldwide cooperative social development goals.
Sustainable cities are urban centers that minimize their environmental impact through urban planning and management. Also known as smart cities, these areas often feature sprawling parks and green spaces, pedestrian or bicycle-friendly routes to lessen cars, rooftop gardens, and buildings that rely on alternative energy like solar power.
As many people know, environmental sustainability mandates society to shift their lifestyle and activities that continue to meet their daily needs while preserving the planet. Some trends people adopted in recent years include minimizing their plastic consumption, applying zero-waste practices, and replenishing natural resources through clean-ups or urban gardening.
Cities or societies that consume natural resources equal to nature’s ability to replenish reach an environmental equilibrium, resulting in a steady economic and natural state. However, the goal is to consume resources less than nature’s ability to renew to allow continuous environmental renewal.
Yet, besides environmental neglect, experts suggest that rural poverty and overexploitation cause unnecessary damage to the surroundings and local resources. As such, they urge cities to treat these natural reserves as significant economic assets or natural capital. Here’s where the other two pillars of sustainable development, social and economic, come into play.
Economic development has required growth in an area’s gross domestic product for years. However, the concept of sustainable development may yet change this perspective. Unlike traditional growth, sustainable development can improve the quality of life and takes into account how the environment affects social welfare.
As early as the 1970s, scientists have used sustainability to describe an economy balanced with ecological systems. Scientists and economists have been going back and forth to address the impacts of expanding human development on the planet. It was not until 1987 when economist Edward Barbier published the study The Concept of Sustainable Economic Development. Through the paper, he recognized that environmental conservation and economic development goals are not conflicting. He these two goals could reinforce each other if people found a foundation between the two.
The 2022 IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Sixth Assessment Report tackled how ambitious climate change mitigation policies have created negative social and economic impacts when not aligned with sustainable development goals.
It resulted in a slower transition towards sustainable development mitigation policies. It caused these policies’ inclusivity and considerations of justice to weaken or support improvements in particular regions as other limiting factors, such as poverty, food insecurity and water scarcity, and hinder governments’ implementation of procedures to build a low-carbon future.
Other than relying on everyday citizens to meet the requirements of SDGs, the concept encourages everyone, from private individuals to small businesses to corporations to governments across the globe, to share in the responsibility of creating a better world where no one is left behind or abusing the Earth’s natural resources.
Sustainable development is a goal that everyone hopes to achieve in the following years. The UN’s SDGs serve as a framework for how people can work together to achieve a sustainable society that promotes the safety and security of present and future generations and planetary resources.
Nowadays, technology provides access to studies and seminars that help people better understand sustainability, sustainable development, and their roles for all. Before taking the much-needed first step towards sustainable development, people must also reflect on whether or not their actions coincide with the plan that aims to safeguard the welfare of all for years to come.