‘Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world’. (Margaret Mead)
Semester 2 and none of us knew what Sustainable Development was going to entail. We had encountered the formulas of Physics, Math’s and Chemistry and then we come upon Sustainable Development! We had all heard on the ‘college vine’ that this module was very different from the rest. I don’t think any of us realised what we were in for. Sustainable Development, lecture one, and I began to realise that not only was I going to have to do some thinking but also a lot of social interacting with my class. We had to think at the outset about what Sustainable Development meant to each one of us. Let’s just say that by the end of this lecture what I had believed Sustainable Development to be had somewhat broadened. Now, I like UNESCO’s definition, “Sustainable development is seeking to meet the needs of the present without compromising those of future generations”. http://cms01.unesco.org/en/esd 29-1-11.
There is an opposing view which deals with the idea that Sustainable Development is all about sustaining the system that’s already there and maintains “that the sustainable development project is neither ‘sustainable’ nor ‘developmental’.” http://ulsd.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/neither-sustainable-nor-development2005-luke1.pdf 30-1-11. Then they become self-renewing as an economy. A lot of discussion and planning around Sustainable Development, the opponents claim, is politically driven.
As the week progressed, I realised that not only did my view of Sustainable Development change but also my opinion on numerous other things. I began to realise that everything on earth is interconnected and are affected by people and our action or inaction. These actions/inactions have a positive or negative domino effect on the each other and on the universe and its contents, much like throwing a stone into water the ripples spread out far beyond our vision. We tip the balance and must look ‘at how we can rebuild our relationships with the crucial elements of everyday life— water, soil, air — and the animals and plants that make up the tapestry of life on Earth’. http://ulsd.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/the-evolution-of-the-human-self1.pdf 30-1-11
The web of life activity that we created helped make this idea real. Sustainable Development is therefore all about people, animals, plants, ecosystems and natural resources. It is about the struggle and challenge that we all face in reducing poverty, providing human rights to everyone, education for all and human security. I have been challenged to think about how we can “develop the attitudes, skills and knowledge to make informed decisions for the benefit of themselves and others, now and in the future”. http://cms01.unesco.org/en/esd 29-1-11. We are now challenged as Gandhi said and “We must become the change we seek.” (Mahatma Gandhi)
We need to see ourselves as part of nature and not see nature ‘as the mere stuff of domination’ http://ulsd.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/meaning20101.pdf 30-1-11.
Everything we do we do in pursuit of personal happiness. Most of us equate happiness with materialistic goods. This is driven by media and marketing and also our own personal choices. In lecture 3, we were introduced to the hierarchy of happiness. This concept was new to most of us I believe and requires more thinking! It has made me question some of my choices since.
This whole quest for happiness, personal and collective, raises huge conflicts especially for us in the developed world. There is the conflict “between an espoused lifestyle of environmentally sustainable practices with respect for natural systems and a highly wasteful consumerist way of life.” http://ulsd.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/worldviews20051.pdf 30-1-11. This all very frightening for me but there is hope as “Technological advances in tools, housing, clothing, and boats attest to the presence of a forward-looking self that could imagine novel solutions to life’s challenges.” http://ulsd.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/the-evolution-of-the-human-self1.pdf 30-1-11