Social dimension

Sustainability issues are generally expressed in scientific and environmental terms, as well as in ethical terms of stewardship, but implementing change is a social challenge that entails, among other things, international and national law, urban planning and transport, local and individual lifestyles and ethical consumerism.[154] "The relationship between human rights and human development, corporate power and environmental justice, global poverty and citizen action, suggest that responsible global citizenship is an inescapable element of what may at first glance seem to be simply matters of personal consumer and moral choice."[155] [edit]Peace, security, social justice Further information: Peace and Social justice Social disruptions like war, crime and corruption divert resources from areas of greatest human need, damage the capacity of societies to plan for the future, and generally threaten human well-being and the environment.[155] Broad-based strategies for more sustainable social systems include: improved education and the political empowerment of women, especially in developing countries; greater regard for social justice, notably equity between rich and poor both within and between countries; and intergenerational equity.[57] Depletion of natural resources including fresh water[156] increases the likelihood of “resource wars”.[157] This aspect of sustainability has been referred to as environmental security and creates a clear need for global environmental agreements to manage resources such as aquifers and rivers which span political boundaries, and to protect shared global systems including oceans and the atmosphere.[158] [edit]Poverty Further information: Poverty A major hurdle to achieve sustainability is the alleviation of poverty. It has been widely acknowledged that poverty is one source of environmental degradation. Such acknowledgment has been made by the Brundtland Commission report Our Common Future[159] and the Millennium Development Goals.[160] According to the Brundtland report, “poverty is a major cause and effect of global environmental problems. It is therefore futile to attempt to deal with environmental problems without a broader perspective that encompasses the factors underlying world poverty and international inequality.”[161] Individuals living in poverty tend to rely heavily on their local ecosystem as a source for basic needs (such as nutrition and medicine) and general well-being.[162] As population growth continues to increase, increasing pressure is being placed on the local ecosystem to provide these basic essentials. According to the UN Population Fund, high fertility and poverty have been strongly correlated, and the world’s poorest countries also have the highest fertility and population growth rates.[163] The word sustainability is also used widely by western country development agencies and international charities to focus their poverty alleviation efforts in ways that can be sustained by the local populous and its environment. For example, teaching water treatment to the poor by boiling their water with charcoal, would not generally be considered a sustainable strategy, whereas using PET solar water disinfection would be. Also, sustainable best practices can involve the recycling of materials, such as the use of recycled plastics for lumber where deforestation has devastated a country's timber base. Another example of sustainable practices in poverty alleviation is the use of exported recycled materials from developed to developing countries, such as Bridges to Prosperity's use of wire rope from shipping container gantry cranes to act as the structural wire rope for footbridges that cross rivers in poor rural areas in Asia and Africa.[164] [edit]Human relationship to nature According to Murray Bookchin, the idea that humans must dominate nature is common in hierarchical societies. Bookchin contends that capitalism and market relationships, if unchecked, have the capacity to reduce the planet to a mere resource to be exploited. Nature is thus treated as a commodity: “The plundering of the human spirit by the market place is paralleled by the plundering of the earth by capital.”[165] Social ecology, founded by Bookchin, is based on the conviction that nearly all of humanity's present ecological problems originate in, indeed are mere symptoms of, dysfunctional social arrangements. Whereas most authors proceed as if our ecological problems can be fixed by implementing recommendations which stem from physical, biological, economic etc., studies, Bookchin's claim is that these problems can only be resolved by understanding the underlying social processes and intervening in those processes by applying the concepts and methods of the social sciences.[166] A pure capitalist approach has also been criticized in Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change to mitigation the effects of global warming in this excerpt ... Deep ecology establishes principles for the well-being of all life on Earth and the richness and diversity of life forms. This requires a substantial decrease in human population and consumption along with the reduction of human interference with the nonhuman world. To achieve this, deep ecologists advocate policies for basic economic, technological, and ideological structures that will improve the quality of life rather than the standard of living. Those who subscribe to these principles are obliged to make the necessary change happen.[169] [edit]Human settlements Sustainability principles 1. Reduce dependence upon fossil fuels, underground metals, and minerals 2. Reduce dependence upon synthetic chemicals and other unnatural substances 3. Reduce encroachment upon nature 4. Meet human needs fairly & efficiently[170] One approach to sustainable living, exemplified by small-scale urban transition towns and rural ecovillages, seeks to create self-reliant communities based on principles of simple living, which maximize self-sufficiency particularly in food production. These principles, on a broader scale, underpin the concept of a bioregional economy.[171] These approaches often utilize commons based knowledge sharing of open source appropriate technology.[172] Other approaches, loosely based around new urbanism, are successfully reducing environmental impacts by altering the built environment to create and preserve sustainable cities which support sustainable transport. Residents in compact urban neighborhoods drive fewer miles, and have significantly lower environmental impacts across a range of measures, compared with those living in sprawling suburbs.[173] The concept of Circular flow land use management has also been introduced in Europe to promote sustainable land use patterns that strive for compact cities and a reduction of greenfield land take by urban sprawl. Large scale social movements can influence both community choices and the built environment. Eco-municipalities may be one such movement.[174] Eco-municipalities take a systems approach, based on sustainability principles. The eco-municipality movement is participatory, involving community members in a bottom-up approach. In Sweden, more than 70 cities and towns—25 per cent of all municipalities in the country—have adopted a common set of "Sustainability Principles" and implemented these systematically throughout their municipal operations. There are now twelve eco-municipalities in the United States and the American Planning Association has adopted sustainability objectives based on the same principles.[170] There is a wealth of advice available to individuals wishing to reduce their personal impact on the environment through small, inexpensive and easily achievable steps.[175][176] But the transition required to reduce global human consumption to within sustainable limits involves much larger changes, at all levels and contexts of society.[177] The United Nations has recognised the central role of education, and have declared a decade of education for sustainable development, 2005–2014, which aims to "challenge us all to adopt new behaviours and practices to secure our future".[178] The Worldwide Fund for Nature proposes a strategy for sustainability that goes beyond education to tackle underlying individualistic and materialistic societal values head-on and strengthen people's connections with the natural world.