Is it possible to live sustainably?

  • May. 29, 2018 1:30 a.m.

In 1987, the UN Brundtland Commission defined sustainable development as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

But today, one-in-four people on this planet live on less than $3 per day. One-in-11 live without access to clean water and one-in-nine does not have enough food to eat. Only 62 per cent of forestable land is still forested reducing our carbon sink below sustainable levels. Since 1970 the number of mammals birds reptiles fish and amphibians has fallen by 50 per cent. We are not living sustainably.

Almost three years ago all 193 member countries approved the Sustainable Development Goals. These SDGs, often called the Global Goals, are aspirational in nature; some might call them audacious. Eliminate poverty and hunger. Create gender equality. Ensure sustainable production patterns. How is this possible?

The 17 Global Goals are deeply interconnected; work to eliminate poverty is related to initiatives to build gender equality and healthy communities. Actions related to climate change have impacts on industrial production and on use of water resources. And these goals are universal. In the past, the UN Millennial goals were focused on how the global North would help solve the problems of the developing world. These goals are goals for all countries to work toward; potable water, healthy lives and education for all children, sustainable production.

Are we able and ready to make changes to ensure we sustain our world? What changes do we need to make in our personal lives, in our communities and in our province? Do we need to rethink our commitment to growth? What might a world that is not about growth, but is about regeneration, look like?

Join Colleen Hanley to consider if we can live sustainably. Hanley is retired from International Education at North Island College after a career offered her opportunities for extensive international travel and teaching and counselling opportunities in the public and post-secondary systems. Colleen has undergraduate and graduate degrees in Psychology and Leadership respectively and has completed diplomas in conflict management and appreciative inquiry. She is a past board member of the British Columbia Council for International Cooperation and the Society for Intercultural Education Training and Research and is currently the Chair of the Comox Valley Global Awareness Network.

Once a month a speaker will introduce a theme to the Café, and then all who attend can join in respectful, non-partisan conversation, or just sit back and listen. You are welcome to propose topics and introduce them at future Cafés. Themes should be of broad interest and national significance, and have an element of controversy to them.

As with each Café, Colleen Hanley will have just 10 minutes to introduce the topic, and then the floor is open for 50 minutes of moderated discussion.