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09 Nov 2023

Why is sustainability getting the world’s attention?


Largely because it holds the key to planetary survival.  The theory is one thing but the real results will come from commitment and action.  The smallest and sustained changes at an individual level is where the turnaround for the planet will take place.  Older people have an important role to play that will benefit not only themselves but also the generations to come. 

Sustainability is a multi-faceted and interconnected subject area.  It is most often associated and strongly linked to environmental issues and how ecologically natural systems function, remain diverse and produce everything needed to remain alive and in balance. 

The new thinking about sustainability also intersects and integrates with issues to do with wellbeing and ageing.    Perhaps a better way to describe the ‘human’ element of sustainability relates to regeneration…with an emphasis on generational roles and responsibilities. 

Not to mention an awakening to do with roles and responsibilities expected to protect people and their planet.  It also acknowledges that humans throughout time have used resources to grow, change and evolve.  When the process is NOT in balance problems of all levels of complexity can, and do, occur.

CoVID-19 has given everyone an opportunity to ‘rethink’ the world.  This is often in relation to finding a new normal as so much in our lives have been turned upside down.  Nevertheless, there is building evidence and momentum indicating that a fresh perspective on issues and matters related to sustainability should be part of any action or agenda moving forward. 

Over and above the influences of the Coronavirus climate change by itself demands fresh thinking and action. 

Uniting nations

The United Nations has refocused its policy agenda in light of the changes expected to make a difference to people as they age and in the context of their own wellbeing.  At both a policy and practice level The UN has stated that this unique situation offers countries an opportunity.  Specifically, to build recovery plans that will reverse trends and change our consumption, and production patterns, towards a more sustainable future.  One that works for both people and the planet. Versus one where humans have unlimited needs but the world has limited capacity to satisfy them. 

Changing production and consumption patterns is a starting point to sustainable living.  Creating a lifestyle that attempts to reduce an individual’s, or society’s use of the Earth’s natural resources as well as one’s own personal habits.  If you think of yourself as a catalyst for change towards ‘earth harmony’ living then a change has already taken place.  Small things—like the reduction of the use of plastic; or creating gardens for pleasure as well as food production—are steps in the right direction. 

The challenge and opportunity is to appreciate the limits to which humans can push nature before the impact is negative.  Those limits must be reflected in our consumption and production patterns.  In short, CoVID-19 can be a catalyst for social change.  We must build back better and transition our production and consumption patterns towards more sustainable practices. 

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Published: August 2021

Reviewed: September 2022

To be reviewed: September 2025