What is sustainability?
The definition of sustainability differs from one setting to another. Industries, environmental agencies, and governments have different definitions of sustainability. They have their own approach towards sustainable development as well.
The most common definition of sustainability or sustainable development was created by the United Nations-World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED). According to the UN, sustainability is the ability to fulfill the present-day needs without compromising the future generation’s ability to meet their own needs. This definition speaks about the maintenance of the earth’s nature and its resources as our future generations depend on it. It states the need to take responsibility for sustaining nature’s resources.
The other definitions of sustainability include the one provided by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), which is the capacity to improve the quality of human life while living within the carrying capacity of the Earth’s supporting eco-systems. This definition talks about the balance of the earth’s natural setting. With increasing populations and our dependency on natural resources increasing day by day, earth’s natural ecosystem and its creatures have started to decline at a fast rate. The third definition of sustainability
How does it work?
The concept of sustainability is set on three pillars: Economic, environmental, and social. Social, organizations to set their goals and decisions on. Sustainability influences the organizations to consider the long term factors rather than focusing on the immediate profit or loss. Examples of how organizations environmental and human impacts are the key terms that sustainability encourages are aiming to achieve sustainable development involve reducing their energy usage, recycling used products, obtaining products from fair trade organizations, reducing emission, and also utilizing green means of energy.
What needs to be done?
In 2015, the member states of the United Nations have adopted 17 sustainable development goals as a universal action plan to abolish poverty, protect the planet and to ensure peace and prosperity for all people by 2030
Furthermore, sustainability can be achieved in numerous ways, here are a few most commonly taken initiatives;
- Developing greener technologies like renewable energy sources that replace the existing conventional sources,
- Adopting eco-friendly production technologies that reduce the need for new raw materials, which can also to reduce the production costs (Using recycled materials)
- Adopting newer approaches in economic sectors like green building, permaculture, and sustainable agriculture
- Adopting newer approaches in work practices like sustainable architecture, etc.
- Adopting eco-friendly waste disposal practices in cities and industries
Where does EHS come into sustainability?
The two main parts of EHS which are Safety and hygiene, come under the social aspect of sustainability as providing a healthy work environment is a part of sustainable development. Industrial emissions and effluents are the other main aspects that fall under the environmental pillar of sustainability. There are various challenges in achieving sustainable development. Organizations are coming up with innovative ideas to overcome such challenges. Environmental health is the other major aspect of EHS, has a lot of challenges that need to be addressed to achieve the sustainability goal. Waste management, climatic changes, emission control, green sources of energy are a few of the major challenges in environmental sustainability. Tackling these challenges is the initial step in achieving the sustainability goal.
It is never too late to implement the sustainability concept in your workplace. The steps we take today are the cornerstones for future development. Stay tuned to know more about the challenges and benefits of sustainability in the upcoming article.
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