To inspire action for greater justice and sustainability
To inspire action for greater justice and sustainability
Justice and sustainability / Hope / Global crises
Improving the quality of human life while living within the carrying capacity of supporting ecosystems
Justice and sustainability are both moral values. Sustainability is shorthand for sustainable development. Justice is often added to make it clear that sustainability includes behaving according to what is morally right and fair.
Sustainable development has become a guiding principle of public policy. It was first defined in 1980 in the World Conservation Strategy: “Improving the quality of human life while living within the carrying capacity of supporting ecosystems.” For our purposes, this is a better definition than another widely used one, from Our Common Future (1987): "Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."
Currently, the main framework for discussion, research, and action is a document called the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015 for the year 2030.
InterEnvironment Institute held a workshop on defining sustainable development at the 1994 IUCN General Assembly in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The proceedings of the workshop were published as A Sustainable World (1995). In it the historian and foundation president Stephen Viederman made an important point: "Sustainability is not a technical problem to be solved … Sustainability is a vision of the future that provides us with a road map and helps to focus our attention on a set of values and ethical and moral principles by which to guide our actions …"
[Photo: "A Fork in the Road. Which Way Should I Go?" © Nicholas Mutton.]
Hope is "a human survival trait and without it we perish"
Although we look for positive stories, our point of view isn’t optimism but hope. What’s the difference? Optimism is the belief that the world is changing for the better; hope is the belief that, together, we can make the world better. The opposite of hope is hopelessness.
This project is about symbols of hope. Here is a standard definition: “Hope is thinking about the future, expecting that desired events will occur, and acting in ways believed to make them more likely.” But although hope is about the future, grounds for hope lie in the records and recollections of the past.
The action part is essential. In her book Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities (2016), Rebecca Solnit writes: “It’s important to emphasize that hope is only a beginning; it’s not a substitute for action, only a basis for it.”
For decades, researchers in the psychological sciences have studied hope, which they see as a cognitive trait that helps individuals find and pursue goals.
In The Book of Hope (2021), the naturalist Jane Goodall goes a step further and says it is “a human survival trait and without it we perish.”
Unprecedented and interdependent global crises that pose an existential threat to nature, people, prosperity, and security
In the background of this project is a set of unprecedented and interdependent global crises that pose an existential threat to nature, people, prosperity, and security:
• Climate change
• Loss of biological diversity
• Effects on human health due to biodiversity loss including: more risk of pandemics of zoonotic diseases (infectious diseases that jump from a non-human animal to humans), and on the immune system and mental health.
Often lost in discussions about these crises is that they are interconnected. Here is a clear statement about this from the G7 (Group of Seven):
INTERDEPENDENT CRISES OF CLIMATE CHANGE AND BIODIVERSITY LOSS
From the introduction to the communiqué of the G7 Climate and Environment Ministers’ Meeting, London, 20–21 May 2021:
"As we continue to address the ongoing pandemic, we acknowledge with grave concern that the unprecedented and interdependent crises of climate change and biodiversity loss pose an existential threat to nature, people, prosperity and security. We recognize that some of the key drivers of global biodiversity loss and climate change are the same as those that increase the risk of zoonoses, which can lead to pandemics. . . . We recognize that climate change and the health of the natural environment are intrinsically linked and will ensure that the actions we take maximize the opportunities to solve these crises in parallel."
[Interconnectedness is a central theme of InterEnvironment Institute.]
The internet is full of misinformation and disinformation about these subjects. For reliable information these official websites are good places to start.
UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), https://epa.gov
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), https://www.ipcc.ch/ - The United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), https://unfccc.int
Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), https://ipbes.net
Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), https://cbd.int
World Health Organization (WHO), https://who.int
Intergovernmental Negotiating Body, https://inb.who.int/?utm_id=80541&sfmc_id=2698961
United Nations Environment Program (UN Environment), https://unep.org
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), https://iucn.org
CALIFORNIA STATE GOVERNMENT
California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA), https://resources.ca.gov
California Biodiversity Council, https://www.californianature.ca.gov/pages/30x30
California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA), https://calepa.ca.gov
Painting: Thomas Moran. "Fiercely the Red Sun Descending / Burned His Way Along the Heavens." Oil on canvas, 1876. The title is from a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, "The Song of Hiawatha."
Natural Neighbors, InterEnvironment Institute
Offices in Old Claremont: P.O. Box 99, Claremont, California 91711 US
Contact us by email: Info@InterEnvironment.org