This article discusses the importance of Sustainability, as outlined below;
Sustainability itself, has to do with the ability of any system to be maintained in a state of equilibrium.
In other words, Sustainability measures how sustainable any system is; which is based on the resources and methods that can be used without having any negative effects on the system.
Sustainability has three main aspects, also called the Pillars of Sustainability. They are Economic, Environmental and Social aspects (or pillars). To properly represent and discuss the importance of Sustainability, it is necessary to consider these three aspects.
Why is Sustainability Important?
We will discuss the importance of Sustainability in terms of the three main Pillars;
1). Environmental Sustainability
The importance of Environmental Sustainability includes the following;
-Leads to Conservation of Natural Resources
In order to ensure that the quality of our environment is not degraded, conservation of natural resources is very important.
Natural resources within this context, include minerals like tin, iron and gold; water resources; soil; oil and gas, etc. The conservation of resources is a way of preventing us from shifting the natural equilibrium state of the environment, thereby achieving environmental sustainability in the long run.
-Helps to Preserve the Environment
The core objective of environmental sustainability is to preserve the environment.
By taking all the measures and steps involved in achieving environmental sustainability, we ultimately keep the environment in a state of good quality. Environmental sustainability works to prevent negative environmental processes like pollution, contamination and natural hazards, from occurring.
-Draws Attention to Greenhouse Emissions
The efforts to achieve environmental sustainability have drawn our attention to greenhouse gas emissions more than ever before.
By doing so, the world has been able to keep close track of the trends in greenhouse emissions; including the average amount of gases emitted; the major emitters (by country or region), and the effects of emissions on the environment.
The awareness of greenhouse emissions which environmental sustainability has helped to create, will go a long way in helping to reduce these emissions.
-Helps in Addressing Global Warming and Climate Change
Therefore, since environmental sustainability creates and strengthens global awareness with respect to greenhouse emissions, it is also useful in fighting Global Warming, and Climate Change.
As a matter of fact, these problems are among the major environmental challenges in the world today. The concept and outline of environmental sustainability have both made it clear, and have helped shift a significant amount of focus and effort, in the necessary direction.
-Improves Agricultural Production
Environmental sustainability also covers the issue of environmental degradation within the context of agriculture.
Examples of this form of environmental degradation include greenhouse emissions of nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide and methane; soil damage due to toxic chemical application and unhealthy farming practices, among others.
Also, environmental sustainability highlights the effects of other environmental challenges like climate change, on agriculture. In general, the yield of agricultural produce has declined significantly, due to issues like drought, flooding, pests and diseases, and extreme heat .
Given that all these issues affect agricultural production, environmental sustainability involves recommending and implementing several methods to reverse the negative impacts, and boost agricultural yield.
-Encourages Clean Energy Development
Clean energy is one of the most notable trends in sustainable development today. Thanks to the efforts to achieve environmental sustainability, we have been introduced to renewable energy.
Environmental sustainability has shown and emphasized the usefulness of clean energy in preventing environmental pollution and several related problems. Many countries of the world including the United States, China, and African nations, have begun to carry out intensive research and development in the field of clean energy.
Various forms of energy have been developed rapidly in recent years. These include Solar, Wind, Geothermal, and Hydropower.
-Creates Avenue for Effective Waste Management Practices
Like other environmental challenges which have been identified, waste production is an increasingly problematic condition. Wastes are known to pollute the soil, water, air, and to cause the release of carbon dioxide and methane (greenhouse gases) into the atmosphere.
Environmental sustainability can only be achieved when we are able to develop efficient strategies to address the problem of waste production .
Through the efforts to preserve the natural environment, we have developed a number of practices that have helped to minimize the problems caused by waste production. These include landfilling, recycling, and sustainable manufacturing.
Around the world, there is increased awareness regarding the amount of waste that is produced, the manner in which the waste is disposed, the amount of recycling being carried out, and the overall effects on our environment.
Based on such information, we have begun to take decisions regarding how to manage waste production and disposal in our society.
-Strengthens the Fight against Deforestation and Biodiversity loss
Scientists have been able to identify the role played by trees in absorbing atmospheric carbon.
In the studies related to environmental degradation and how to achieve sustainability, the issue of deforestation has now been highlighted as a cause for concern.
Around the world, trees are being cut down massively for various reasons including agriculture, residential land development, and search for raw materials for various purposes (like paper production). In the process, large expanses of forest land are being lost at an alarming rate.
What this means for the environment, is that we are becoming more vulnerable to Global Warming. For the organic populations or biodiversity, it means that natural habitats are being lost and destroyed on a daily basis.
Other environmental issues like Global Warming itself, are causing the loss of habitats for animal and plant populations in the polar regions, due to ice-melting.
By the loss of habitats, numerous animal species are being endangered, and stand at risk of extinction. Through the efforts to achieve environmental sustainability, our attention has been drawn to these problems, and the need to solve them.
2). Social Sustainability
The importance of Social Sustainability includes;
-Encourages Diversity in the Society
One of the goals of social sustainability is to achieve a state of productive cooperation and inclusion in our society.
Since this is the case, it encourages diversity among people in all sectors of the society, including administration, business, education, and industry.
This implies that the world is moving fast toward complete globalization, such that each individual is allowed to contribute meaningfully to his surroundings.
-Helps to Address the Problem of Inequality
Inequality is one of the major problems in our society currently.
Because of the need to achieve social sustainability, there have been numerous measures and efforts taken recently to address inequality. These include policies and institutions which have been developed.
Reducing inequality will lead to greater economic development, and create a society that is inclusive of all genders and cultural backgrounds.
-Draws Attention to the Effects of Climate Change on the Human Population
The human population is at the very center of social sustainability.
Therefore, different humanitarian challenges have been identified so far, one of which is the effect of climate change on the population.
Climate Change has been found to have serious impacts on human health and economic conditions . Several diseases have been found to bear relation to climate change, such as Heat Stroke, Malaria, and Ebola.
Asides these, through social sustainability efforts, we are able to understand how climate change causes food insecurity, hunger, poverty and economic recession. We are also able to link sever natural hazards like flooding, storms, heatwaves and hurricanes, to climate change. This is very helpful in providing guidance on the steps which can be taken, the need to take such steps, and the likely results.
-Encourages Infrastructural Development
By showing that many regions do not have sufficient access to the required social amenities for communication, education, and health, among others; social sustainability efforts help in guiding us to identify the areas of need in our society.
So far, there have been huge investments and efforts to provide relief, and various infrastructural facilities to the regions where they are needed. These include clean water, electricity, healthcare facilities, telecommunication amenities, among others.
Because of the awareness created by social sustainability enthusiasts, several projects have sprung up, to breach the gap in access to infrastructure across the world.
-Helps to Address Issues of Poverty and Hunger
To build a sustainable society, one of the issues which must be addressed is that of poverty.
In many cases, poverty is accompanied by hunger, or lack of nutrition. Social sustainability highlights the need to fight poverty and hunger, and to ensure that individuals in the human population, are able to access the basic necessities for a healthy life.
Although there may be relatively little progress so far, the rates of both hunger and poverty across the world are beginning to decline, and will drop further in the near future.
-Creates Awareness on the Importance of Education
Among the issues which social sustainability has been able to highlight, education is very important.
Through studies within the context of social sustainability, we can defend the importance of education to achieving a stable and productive society. We are also able to monitor the trends in access to education for children and adults alike.
These efforts have resulted in a significant increase in the rate of access to education (literacy and numeracy) for people around the world.
-Supports Programs in Public Health
Because health will always remain an important issue to the human population, social sustainability can only be achieved if measures are taken to improve public health.
Studies have shown the high rates of deaths especially among children and the elderly, due to illness .
Most of these illnesses have also been found to be preventable. The social sustainability endeavor has highlighted the need to provide adequate and accessible healthcare services to cater for the population.
-Protects the Rights of Workers
In the workplace, business sustainability is a major concern. However, it is necessary to achieve a state of social sustainability as well, in order to be productive.
Social sustainability insists that workers must have their fundamental human and labor rights protected at work. The ways to achieve this include developing policies that ensure that the right practices are observed by both workers and employers, and that workers are compensated for their contribution to the organization.
Social sustainability also highlights the need to provide the necessary equipment and other measures to protect the lives and health of workers. These considerations ensure that the workplace is safe, inclusive and productive.
-Draws Attention to the Problem of Human Rights Abuse around the World
Human rights abuse has been a major concern around the world for a long time.
Due to the efforts being made to achieve social sustainability, we are able to monitor the rates and trends of human rights abuse. This include; domestic violence, persecution, unjust confinement and murder of different categories of people including adults, children, women, human rights activists, and journalists.
By drawing attention to human rights abuse, social sustainability has helped to establish a joint effort by organizations, governments and other agencies across the world, against such violations.
3). Economic Sustainability
Importance of Economic Sustainability includes the following;
-Ensures that Resources are used in a Conservative Manner
To achieve economic sustainability, it is essential for resources to be conserved.
‘Resources’ in this case includes both human, natural and environmental resources such as manpower, minerals, oil and gas, soil, biodiversity, and water resources.
Economic sustainability suggests that these resources be used in the most productive manner possible, and in such a way that does not degrade the environment. This approach ensures that both the economy, human population, and the environment, are maintained.
-Helps to Develop a Resilient Economy
By conserving and properly utilizing resources, economic sustainability aims to build a very resilient economy.
This implies that, the measures which are taken in order to achieve economic sustainability, can reduce the effects of economic recession and other related problems. Economic sustainability ensures that the business, industrial and commercial sectors are robust, and resistant to the effect of price fluctuations.
A resilient economy is very important because it protects the human population from severe impacts of economic meltdown, such as food shortage and insecurity, as well as poverty.
-Reduces the Risk of Economic Recession
This is the direct result of economic resilience, as we have discussed in the preceding section.
A resilient economy is the potential product of economic sustainability. By building resilience in the economic sector, the risk of recessions can be reduced.
The contents of this article have shown that sustainability is very important, in diverse ways.
Generally, achieving sustainability will result in an improved quality of life, preservation of natural resources, and protection of biodiversity as well as the ecosystem .
Sustainability, as we have discussed, has potential positive impacts on the;
Its end goal is to bring the human population into harmony with our natural environment, such that the resources available on Earth are both utilized in a conservative manner, and preserved for use by future generations.
1). Bansard, J.; and Schroder, M. (2021). “The Sustainable Use of Natural Resources: The Governance Challenge.” Available at: https://www.iisd.org/articles/sustainable-use-natural-resources-governance-challenge. (Accessed 12 December 2021).
2). EPA (2017). “Climate Change Impacts.” Available at: https://19january2017snapshot.epa.gov/climate-impacts/climate-impacts-agriculture-and-food-supply_.html. (Accessed 12 December 2021).
3). The World Bank (2019). “Solid Waste Management.” Available at: https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/urbandevelopment/brief/solid-waste-management. (Accessed 12 December 2021).
4). UNICEF (2021). “Childhood diseases.” Available at: https://www.unicef.org/health/childhood-diseases. (Accessed 12 December 2021).
5). WHO (2021). “Climate change and health.” Available at: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/climate-change-and-health. (Accessed 12 December 2021).