Art by: Enushi Garg
In the wake of the current Covid-Pandemic situation around the world, environmentalists and environment activists have raised their voices enough in the past few months. They have raised an alarm to rethink and evaluate the ways we have been exploiting nature. Extreme weather events; the failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation; major natural disasters; major biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse; and human-made environmental damage and disasters have been of big concern to intellectuals and scientists alike.
Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s)
Although resources intake is at all levels from rural to urban, the cities are focal points termed as sink holes of resources utilized for dense populations that they have. Environmental footprints of cities are quite alarming and the government apathy in the name of development doesn’t seem to support the environmental agenda. There are surprising estimates that predict around two-thirds of the world’s population is predicted to live in an urban area by 2050. However, nature and environment oriented clean energy and climate solutions by governments ; administrators together can lead us towards sustainable cities. Currently we have few examples of greenest cities, which have incorporated innovations or systems pertaining to the sustainable blueprint. These cities residents have been key players at ground level who have been working towards collaborative Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). The list of the greenest cities include Copenhagen, Vancouver Stockholm, and Singapore to name a few. The aim towards green city or eco-city with consideration for social, economic, environmental impact ( triple bottom line) and resilient habitat for existing populations, without compromising the ability of future generations to experience the same is ongoing in several developed nations. However, developing nations are still far behind to realize the gravity of the situations due to several reasons.
Sustainability: Challenges & Solutions
Sustainability is a global challenge identified by the United Nations (UN) Sustainable solutions along with nature preservation is the only choice we are left with. We need a new way forward, a collective path that leads us to shared safe future, in harmony with nature.
The one major change has been the use of renewable energy. Most renewable energy sources produce little to no global warming emissions. Even when including “life cycle” emissions of clean energy (ie, the emissions from each stage of a technology’s life—manufacturing, installation, operation, decommissioning), the global warming emissions associated with renewable energy are minimal. They are nature derived solutions that don’t deplete. The sustainable homes with green living are picking up at all levels. Not only are green homes more beautiful and eco-friendly but they are also cost-effective in the long run. They include solar energy, biogas, recycled construction materials, non-Volatile Compound (VOC’s) materials in interiors, eco-friendly cooling roofing materials, and lots of plants, self-sufficient organic food garden, composting, rainwater harvesting and more. These homes have ample natural lighting, very high quality of air, healthy and soothing indoor environment and natural temperature regulation. With time we have seen a rise in green homes and buildings. There are renowned architects and engineers who have been providing solutions to green living. These homes may cost a bit more at the time of building but within 5-6 years the cost is covered which is favorable in the long run.
Incorporating Sustainable Innovations
Innovations have been plenty in the field of sustainable solutions, each sector starting from agriculture to businesses have a choice to make. The individuals and governments also define the acceptance and practical implications of these in this decades. The challenge at this time is work to change and investment in a circular economy. The businesses find it difficult to stick to environmental responsibility as they lack immediate financial benefits. The cost of environmental friendly processes and operations along with the equipment are too cumbersome. There’s a difference in approach in developed and developing nations. The renewable energy or environmental solutions innovations availability differs. Environmental compliance may be complicated. Environmental regulations vary by country, by state or region, and even by city. If a body like UNEA or UNEP takes a lead to guide the nations for a uniformity in guidelines for developed & developing nations that may become a game changer then. Stringent laws and regulations are what we are looking for. Also the innovations should be globally available for use at affordable prices.
Governments or agencies need to (1) identify and remove barriers to sustainable development (e.g. poverty, injustice, conflicts and an unhealthy environment); (2) reducing resource depletion and environmental degradation; and (3) ensuring effective implementation, monitoring and continuous improvement.
Individuals & Community Actions
Governmental and organizational practices, along with communities and individuals will pave a path for sustainable living. The focus is on individual actions, rather than organizational practices. These narrow, small ticket, community level actions have immediate local benefits.
Communities and Individuals can play a huge role. Also called as micro sustainability, here the focus is on individual actions, rather than organizational practices. These narrow, small ticket, community level actions have immediate local benefits. Environmental sustainability goals were realized recently when we humans knew our natural resources are limited, and our waste does not disappear without a trace. People realized a need for sustainable changes in society which would help to establish a harmony between nature and society. Now it is time to realize that sustainable changes in society should be prepared by maintaining sustainability on a personal level. People and communities emphasize the use of green living with renewable energy resources. This change is visible now and is gaining popularity day by day. Rural areas too are benefitted by such an approach.
Reduce the Load
Earth is overburdened with our load, it seems there’s a lot to do to restore it. We humans need to change our lifestyle, think about our environment and earth’s condition. The change in ecosystem and biodiversity loss due to human actions are increasing. Climate change has been immense and needs to be addressed with the right measures. Life on earth is facing devastation including us. Nature is sending us many warning messages. This year still have 6 months to go, and what we are going through is just the beginning. These warning signs are not to be missed. Everyone needs to take part to save our planet, in his or her capacity or more. If we don’t heed the call from nature, we will not exist sometime soon. We have to achieve Sustainable Goals, decrease the pressure on natural resources, save our forests and oceans for our own survival.
About the Art: Time for Nature
“To protect and create awareness about the environment, I have come up with this ‘Time for Nature’ sketch” says Enushi Garg. She adds “Nature is a beautiful painting for us, let’s protect it, and not destroy it. Nature is truly one of the biggest gift to mankind, we depend on her for everything. Unfortunately the capitalist culture that has flourished in the past few decades has exploited nature incessantly & also irrevocably damaged our planet.”
About the Artist: Enushi Garg is an artist who is exploring oneself in art forms especially illustrations, sketches, drawings & 3D pencil art. Her work tells an intriguing stories inspired from our everyday lives. Being a preschool Administrator by profession, she loves creativity in her art, and constantly strives to work on the same.
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