Happy New Year! I hope you all had a nice Holiday Season, enjoyed some quality time, rest, peace, family, friends, and joys of the season! I was able to take time to reflect with family and friends in my hometown of Eugene, Oregon and recently compiled a "reflection on sustainability" with things we can do related to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (17):
1 – No Poverty. How do we actually shift wealth and resources to go toward supporting the end of poverty? Let’s start with sharing. Since the election in the U.S. friends and colleagues are encouraging donations to organizations who are actively working on alleviating poverty through education, programs and services which empower disadvantaged people, and civil rights. The Southern Poverty Law Center is an example. Check out advocacy groups in your area, get informed and engage.
2 – Zero Hunger. Donate to food shelters, participate in can drives (donating food to organizations), contribute to disaster relief efforts, and depending on your way of life, contribute through churches, special drives, and “Holiday giving” are all ways to alleviate hunger. Monitor consumption, recycle, and support businesses which promote reuse, recycling, and utilize food waste.
3 – Good Health and Well Being. At the CDS IACD conference we had several sessions on “Community Well Being” which were inspiring for our work an lives. Find ways to create space for nurturing beyond your “normal” conditioned space. Be kind and good to one another. It can go along way to making you, those you associate with, and possibly others, better than worse.
4 – Quality Education. To me education means supporting the intellectual, physical, and emotional development of people to pursue, develop, and master their passions, knowledge, and abilities to improve their lives, and society (bonus). It also means cultivating quality educators to guide young people, communities, and each other for better understanding, economic opportunity, and civil society. Educate yourself about current events, share information, and engage in thoughtful dialogue.
5 – Gender Equality. In college, I took a women's studies course and learned about “theories of difference” which described the cycles of oppression through identification of groups—gender, race, class, age. This course changed my life by highlighting how we selectively oppress people by "difference" and how change involves looking beyond discrimination of just one group.
6 – Clean Water and Sanitation. This goal is particularly relevant to my work with Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC) around sustainable infrastructure. Access to safe drinking water is a luxury for most people in the world which many of us take for granted. Communities face challenges with keeping up with costs to manage infrastructure systems and have limited capacity to develop and finance projects. Globally we need more investment in basic infrastructure. Water is life.
7 – Affordable and Clean Energy. If we are going to be sustainable with energy, we must radically shift the way we live, from extraction of resources, production of electricity, distribution infrastructure, and consumption. Conservation is another policy tool to help reduce consumption of energy. Our dependence on fossil fuels is not sustainable. It creates acute pollution, if not global warming. Drive less, ride a bicycle, turn off the lights, turn down the heat, use energy efficient appliances, take action.
8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth. The traditional form of economic development has been the industrial recruitment model. Build it, and they will come. The majority of businesses are “small businesses” of 150 or less people. A large industry moving in to save the town is not always sustainable for a community. Local business and local work builds community.
9 – Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure. The CDS IACD Annual International Conference 2016 had sessions involving innovation and the “community capitals” framework with eight (8) community capitals/values of wealth including intellectual, individual, social, cultural, natural, built, financial, and political. Business as usual is not sustainable--building local wealth is.
10 – Reduced Inequalities. See “gender equality” and discussion regarding “theories of difference”.
11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities. My home state of Oregon was the first state in the U.S. to enact a bottle bill for recycling, and land use laws to govern “wise development” in the 1970’s under Governor Tom McCall, a Republican. Unfortunately the discovery of Portland is bringing growth pressure, increased housing costs, and homelessness. Sustainable cities means more than smart growth, it means re-evaluating goals and engaging community, to develop local solutions.
12 – Responsible Consumption and Production. Think locally, act globally. Responsible consumption involves understanding where products are made, how they are made, how they are distributed, and how they impact health, environment, and economy. Educate yourself about the products you buy, compare costs of local products and tradeoffs, and maximize the value of your money in what you buy, and consume. Support local businesses, farmers markets, and be a wise shopper.
13 – Climate Action. Reduce dependence on fossil fuel, walk, ride a bike, take mass transit, reduce waste, reuse, recycle, grow food, reduce dependency on products which require transportation (and use of fossil fuel and energy), reduce energy use particularly at peak times, get off the grid, and if you get on the grid consider how you use energy and save, get a solar retrofit, ride share, educate others about the science behind climate change more than ever because policy priorities are shifting.
14 – Life Below Water. Our oceans are the reservoirs of life, and they are being destroyed. Signs of plankton decline, coral as living rock protecting shores dying off, coagulating masses of plastic “film” never before recorded in vast areas of our oceans, mammals dying from plastics and management practices in oceans, are all red alert alarms we need to be paying attention to—not to mention rising sea levels due to GLOBAL WARMING. Islands in the South Pacific are dealing with this as the water literally is rising and covering areas formally above sea level.
15 – Life on Land. The world lands continue to face increased deforestation, species extinction, effects from intensifying storms causing greater disasters. How can governments continue to fund disaster relief? How can governments, and people, be more proactive about mitigating consequences of disasters? How can we protect the environment and consume what we need, not just want? We must have land, and we must have water.
16 – Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions. One of my New Year's Resolutions is "seek peace where possible". Peace means we must understand differences and find ways to deal with them constructively, productively, and if possible compassionately. Be an ambassador of peace, learn about mindful awareness, and meditation. Breathe.
17 – Partnership for the Goals. We are all in this together. We cannot sustain one self alone. That is the same with organizations and agencies. While we all have self-interest, individual missions, and different, distinct programs, and motivations, everything is related which is a fundamental mindset we need to embrace for a truly sustainable world.
Remember to make plans to attend the Community Development Society (CDS) and National Association of Community Development Extension Professionals (NACDEP) in Big Sky, Montana June 11th - 14th. Happy New Year 2017!
Make it one for the ages.