Sustainability, which started as a fad, is now fast becoming a part of developmental plans across the world. Many companies across the world are now willing to be rated on sustainability index as they recognise the benefits of sustainable practices. Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) on sustainability.
Q: Why become green and sustainable?
A: Becoming green and sustainable means not only to help the environment but to make your business more profitable and successful. Using natural resources to an extent that nature can replenish itself helps both the planet and the business to survive.
Q: What is sustainability?
A: The United Nations defines sustainability as inextricably linked to basic questions of equity – that is, fairness, social justice and greater access to a better quality of life. In addition, it also says everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment and therefore, we have to protect natural resources. Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations.
Q: Why has sustainability come about?
A: According to the Environment Protection Agency of United States sustainability has emerged as a result of significant concerns about the unintended social, environmental, and economic consequences of rapid population growth, economic growth and consumption of our natural resources. The world's population of 7 billion is likely to increase to 9 billion by 2050 and it will lead to growing demand on natural resources. And this has resulted in a call to adopt a sustainable lifestyle.
Q: Is the world catching up with sustainability?
A: Sustainability, which started as a fad, is now fast becoming a part of developmental plans across the world. Many companies across the world are now willing to be rated on sustainability index as they recognise the benefits of sustainable practices that minimise environmental impacts, use resources more efficiently, and save them money to increase profits.
Q: What are Sustainable Development Goals?
A: In July 2015, negotiators of 190 countries agreed to adopt sustainable development goals (SDGs) with an aim to make the world more equitable and peaceful with social well-being of everyone assured. The SDGs have 17 goals ranging from eradicating poverty, hunger, quality education to all and reducing global warming causing carbon emissions. There are 169 targets under the goals for the countries to meet between 2020 and 2030.
Q: How were SDGs decided?
A: In 2002, at Rio+ 20 Earth Summit the countries agreed an outcome document that became the framework for negotiating the SDGs. Over a two-year period, negotiators from about 190 countries deliberated on the outcome document and in July 2015 agreed on the goals and targets.
Q: How are SDGs different from Millennium Development Goals?
A: The MDGs had only 15 targets, unlike SDGs which through its 169 targets cover everything from poverty eradication to climate change to food protection to disability to human dignity for all. The SDGs for the first time introduces country wise monitoring mechanism, call a high-level political committee to monitor and talks of means of implementation. There is also a mention of the rich countries providing money to the developing countries for achieving the goals which was not there in MDGs.
Q: Is India's development model sustainable?
A: India's per capita food and energy consumption are much lower than those in developed nations such as the US and in Europe but it is mainly because one-third of country's population lives on basic minimum facilities. Around 280 million people do not earn enough to fetch decent meals twice a day, around 360 million people do not have access to regular education, around 500 million people still have to travel outside their homes to fetch water and 40% of the households do not have a toilet. The rich, who constitute less than 2% of the 1.2 billion people in India, indulge in high energy and food consumption. In a way, one can say that India's development model is not equitable and sustainable.
Q: How can India adopt sustainable development model?
A: For a sustainable growth model, India needs to adopt more policies that are inclusive and improve income levels of the poor. As of now, India has a number of social security schemes such as Public Distribution System (PDS) for providing subsidised food to the poor and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme to provide a maximum 100 days of employment apart from various scholarships for the economically deprived sections of the society. Improving the quality of education in schools, a foolproof PDS for better targeting of food, higher income for marginal and small farmers, who constitute 84% of the country's farm-owners, ensuring decent jobs to the marginalised, focus on decentralised power through solar energy systems and protecting ecology can help in adopting a sustainable growth model.