Sustainability is currently at the forefront of thinking about individual and community development. Unless we are seriously considering how energy is generated, how we are sourcing and consuming resources and our abilities to reuse them, experiencing radical and difficult changes to our lifestyles will be unavoidable.
Everything can be done sustainably, few things actually are.
Sustainability can be defined in broad terms, making it relevant to individual people as much as businesses and organizations. The term was first coined in the paper ‘Our Common Future’, issued by the United Nations’ Brundtland Commission, that sought to unite countries in pursuing sustainable development together.
Sustainability was thereby defined as;
“development which meets the needs of current generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Under our previous Green council administration, Brighton was named the first ‘dedicated One Planet City’, and was promised a broad spectrum of council initiatives to bring around a wholly sustainable city. Since governmental funding cuts are crippling even the services for the most vulnerable individuals, can we expect them to deliver on ambitious sustainable development plans? The very nature of sustainable practice can be threatening to institutions, whether local or global in stature, when the institution’s ethos is established on “narrow preoccupations and compartmentalized concerns”.
In this age of peak oil crisis, global financial collapse and looming environmental catastrophe, sustainability can appear to be an unavoidable necessity. However, it should not be mistaken for a destination, for it defines processes of change. With so many people affected in such varied ways, a plethora of opportunities present themselves to engage communities and support proactive initiatives.
“Thinking globally but acting locally” is preferable to waiting for governmental planning, let alone action.
What is the relationship between environmental sustainability and social sustainability, in terms of growing inequality and demands for more social justice? If these changes must be faced, what can we do to engage people and facilitate minimum discomfort and maximize the realistic, measurable benefits of sustainability to people, businesses and governments.
We recognise that a large proportion of the responsibility for change lies in the hands of governments and multinational companies. Unfortunately these are often paralyzed by their adherence to orthodox values such as relentless financial and material acquisition and material ‘growth’. Rather than relying on large institutions to deliver progress, should grass roots movements not seek to inspire and enable, empower and facilitate a bottom up, cultural and therefore meaningful change?
The Synergy team are planning a series of regular events that encourage local organisations and people interested in sustainability, to gather, share best practice and practical advice, discuss topical issues, network and develop partnership, all in an entertaining, enjoyable and sociable environment.
The events will be :
– Coordinated in collaboration with local sustainability groups.
– Creating accessible learning environments for individuals, families and children.
– Raising awareness of sustainability developments in Brighton and influences on surrounding areas.
– Offering practical advice and positive encouragement for even the smallest scales of grass roots action.
– Strengthening relationships and improving communications within the sustainability network.
– Accommodating guest speakers, interactive workshops and community engagement projects.
– Fun and enjoyable occasions, providing entertainment from local musicians, poets, artists and all performers from the eco-arts movement, which incorporate commentary on topical environment and social issues.
To get involved in the Sustainability Network and Events, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org