Al Gore’s “Sustainability Revolution” announcement in April 2018 is very inspirational, as the world is starting to live and breathe Sustainability in our schools, universities and our home and work places. However, it is only part of the answer to achieving a Sustainable future. He announced at the Milken Institute in Los Angeles that we are at the early Stages of a “Sustainability Revolution”, but this only addresses the Human endeavour (ie. the aspiration to be sustainable) and not the Sustainable Development aspect (ie. The infrastructure expenditure across the economy). Sustainability and Sustainable Development are both very important, but they are mutually exclusive despite some confusion in the public domain around the world.
Sustainability is a lifestyle aspiration. Firstly, it incorporates the Human endeavour to minimise waste while maximising the use of sustainable natural resources such as water, sun and wind, facilitating a sustainable lifestyle in the home and on the farm. Secondly, it includes Corporate sustainability, which is about good governance in the office and sustainable profit growth in the context of growing profitability in the economy. Sustainability is being achieved to varying degrees across the economy and in our communities, schools and universities but needs to be ramped up even more through education and the right message.
Sustainable Development is about carefully and efficiently building the infrastructure element of the economy without waste, whilst maximising the use of the available natural resources. This can be achieved through new innovative construction, maintenance and retrofitting of homes, building, factories, offices, roads, bridges and telecommunications. Energy, transport networks and vehicles as well as Agriculture through carbon sequestration through planting of trees and pastures, are all part of the Sustainable Development equation. These components are or can be made more sustainable, especially through innovative new Sustainable Development concepts in the future.
Sustainable Development is by far the larger component of these two notations, though it is understood far less by the public. Gore’s “Sustainability Revolution” is therefore just part of the overall solution. Clearly the Sustainable Development component, in terms of the economy, is dominant and the solution to a sustainable planet would be better presented as a “Sustainable Revolution”.
The Sustainability aspect of the Revolution is more advanced than Gore gives it credit for, given the public knowledge on this subject. Everyone is living and breathing Sustainability and Sustainable Development in our schools, universities and offices, albeit without clarification or proper specific definitions of what they are.
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