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Sustainability 101

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Sustainability is not a new concept. But, especially with the pandemic, it has become one of the concepts that is even more loudly discussed all over the world.

Still, the definition is pretty vague in the minds. So, it is very important to understand the scope of the concept, at least fundamentally, and then to discuss the issues in detail.

It’s worth mentioning right away:

1– Sustainability is not just a matter of environmental sensitivity, melting glaciers and captive polar bears. So, it’s not just an environmental issue.

2- Critical issues such as global warming and climate change do not define the concept of sustainability on their own.

3- Sustainability is not against the economy, companies, growth and profit. On the contrary, economy is at the core of the concept of sustainability.

In a nutshell, sustainability is like a 3-legged table. These are people, planet and profit. If one of the legs is missing, the table collapses. So each one is important. If you keep one short, the table shakes this time too. So, although there may be issues that you give more weight to periodically, these legs should be of equal length in the long run.

Therefore, for a company to be called sustainable, its economic gains must not harm the environment and the planet, and must not violate basic, healthy, civil human rights.

In the ideal definition, while creating economic profitability for its investors and shareholders, a company should also create value for its employees and the community it is in. And do all these in a way that does not harm the natural structure of the planet, the environment and all other living beings. In other words, if a value is created, it is essential to create that value in all three legs of the concept.

We have to face the growth dilemma. Well, to stop growing our current economy means the risk of economic and social collapse. Continuing to grow means risking destroying the global ecosystems that are the foundation of our existence.” Tim Jackson. Prosperity without Growth

Economic growth and its effects on people and the planet seem to be a dilemma. Because, the human, society, environment and planet problems are basically caused by the production and consumption models that have come up to date. Herein lies both the importance and the challenge of sustainability.

The discipline and understanding of sustainable development is extremely valuable at this stage. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, is one of the most important steps taken in this regard. There are 17 Sustainable Development Goals for which urgent action is called for by all developed and developing countries in a global partnership.

These goals are tackling climate change and trying to protect the environment. But also, reveal the necessity of going hand in hand with strategies that improve the health and education system, reduce inequality and encourage economic growth.

To better understand the scope, it is necessary to take a look at the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which countries have signed as an urgent call to action:

– End poverty in all its forms everywhere.

– End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture

– Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all ages.

– Provide inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

– Achieve gender equality and empower women.

– Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

– Provide access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

– Promote sustainable, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.

– Build resilient infrastructure, foster inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and foster innovation.

– Reduce inequality within and between countries.

– Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

– Provide sustainable consumption and production patterns.

– Take urgent action to combat climate change and its effects.

– Protect and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

– Protect, restore and promote the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, stop and reverse land degradation and stop biodiversity loss.

– Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

– Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.

It’s utopian isn’t it? However, these are very basic and necessary issues for ideal humanity and a livable healthy world.

In addition to traditional economic indicators, the global development goals also focus on the social and environmental dimension of well-being. Countries have also undersigned these targets, at least as a sign of intent. In this respect, it is extremely valuable.

Humanity has a difficult agenda ahead, which will shape the fate of future generations. Social awareness starting from individuals and sincere and constructive steps taken by countries and companies will determine the success of this entire sustainability agenda.

And only in this way, these listed sustainable development goals will cease to be a utopian thesis and become reality.

From all these aspects; sustainability can be the key to a healthy future for humanity and the planet. 

I hope humanity chooses to use this key well enough by taking responsibility to act …

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