How can you achieve the SDG? Environment Day edition

This week’s reflection on the day-to-day achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) comes with a new focus on the environment and our relationship with it. World Environment Day (WED) is celebrated on 5th June every year, as the United Nations’ principal vehicle to for encouraging people’s awareness and action for environmental protection. “Time for Nature” has been selected as this year’s theme, in particular highlighting the role of natural infrastructures in supporting life on Earth and human development. This is also momentum for raising public awareness on biodiversity and understanding how all living things on Earth are connected in the web of life, and how we can act #forNature.

The focus on biodiversity also translates into an open call to contrast the loss and degradation of species in the natural world. Nowadays, about 1 million plant and animal species are threatened with extinction, more than ever before in human history. The weight of human behaviour is a very uncomfortable truth to accept. Most of such damages are directly provoked and escalated due to human actions, with 75% terrestrial and 66% marine environments being “severely altered” to date. Combined with the current pandemic and the ongoing climate change, these facts can no longer be ignored. How to align a positive impact on the environment with a day-to-day approach to SDGs.

1.Research and raise awareness.

Once again, any action must be backed by an accurate informative process. The discourse around environmental protection is truly diverse in its nature. Hence it requires a deep understanding which can be achieved through an investigative approach (as any matter of high importance). Do not limit yourself to share what you see on social media: go deeper into your research, start from the very bottom of the issue by consulting official and verified studies, check the latest numbers,  and only then, exploring all the resources available to you to make a real difference.

Once you are familiar with a topic, it becomes natural to openly talk about it, raise awareness around you, and positively influence other people, always using proper sources to validate your opinion – Aside from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), here: https://research.un.org/en/un-resources/topic/environment you can find a useful list of official reports, policies and other documents to begin your learning experience.  

Goals Achieved: GOAL 3  (Good Health and Well-being), GOAL 4 (Quality Education), GOAL 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production).

2. Purchase sustainable products.

In various countries of the world, many products are now labeled with ecolabels which state whether or not they can be considered “environmentally friendly”. Since biodiversity loss is closely related to our consumption of natural resources, it is our responsibility – whenever we can – to choose products which are produced in sustainable and innovative ways. In this way, not only we will act consciously towards the environment, but at the same time, we will also increase the demand for such products, create a larger space for them on the market so that they can become available for a more significant number of people. In other words, our demand as consumers can directly influence the choice of manufacturers to make more sustainable products.

Furthermore, buying organic products or naturally-made materials will create a healthier home environment for everyone. In this way, we would not only restore the natural environment as a whole but also that immediately close to us.

You can find a detailed list of official symbols of internationally sustainable products certifications to keep as a reference here:   https://www.mnn.com/money/sustainable-business-practices/stories/green-product-certification-21-symbols-you-should

Goals Achieved: GOAL 3 (Good Health and Well-being), GOAL 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure), GOAL 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), GOAL 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production), GOAL 13 (Climate Action).

3. Embrace sustainable living.

There are so many little steps we can take towards making our daily lives more sustainable. Reducing our water consumption – by taking shorter showers, for example – as well as that of other resources, could be an excellent start. Riding bicycles around and using more public transport can also significantly contribute to reducing our overall footprint on the planet. Reducing energy use in the household also represents a key-move into creating a sustainable living space: open the windows allowing air to circulate rather than using air-conditioning, hang the clothes to dry instead of using a dryer, turn off all the electric appliances and lights which are currently not in use.

Sustainable living is arguably the most crucial point when it comes to protecting biodiversity, simply because by reducing the extent of individually-caused footprint and pollution on the planet, biodiversity in a variety of habitats will automatically improve.

Goals Achieved: GOAL 3 (Good Health and Well-being), GOAL 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation), GOAL 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), GOAL 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure), GOAL 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), GOAL 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production), GOAL 13 (Climate Action).

4. Eat locally.

It is now universally acknowledged that our dietary habits have a significant impact on environmental and biodiversity conservation. Supermarkets – as well as online shopping – have changed mainly our way of consuming, making it so easy and convenient to just purchase whatever food we want, no matter the season or the location.

However, one of the most significant downsides is that such products consume massive amounts of fossil fuels during both production and transportations. Eating locally (and seasonally) is one of the most conscious choices we can make for the environment and all the living creatures. Then, planting and growing our own foods would be the next step towards a perfect ecological balance!

Goals Achieved: GOAL 3 (Good Health and Well-being), GOAL 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), GOAL 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure), GOAL 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), GOAL 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production).

5. Resell and donate items #zerowaste.

All those items which are no longer needed or simply served their purposes in our lives, can still get a second chance of extended life and find new meaning when sold or donated to someone else. When the life of a product is extended, the dependence on disposable, single-use products which end up chocking kilometers of landfills.

There is a great need for second-hand clothes and donations out there, and we are lucky enough to live in the age of technology where online selling and buying has never been more convinient . Physical second-hand markets or retail shops are also a great opportunity to furtherly cut the ecologic expenses of transport and delivery, and at the same time, support local businesses.

Goals Achieved: GOAL 1 (No Poverty), GOAL 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), GOAL 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure), GOAL 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), GOAL 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production).

Authors: Aneka Rebecca Rajbhandari and Giulia Interesse

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