esEnvironmental sustainability is essential in ensuring that the earth will continue to support human life in the future. It is based on a very simple principle that everything we need for our survival and well-being as a species depends, directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. Healthy ecosystems and environments are thus necessary to the survival of humans and other organisms. Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which we have continued access to clean water, air and other natural resources while at the same time protecting the natural environment.
While Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) was preaching about the preservation of the natural environment 1400 years ago, in the modern era, it was only in the 1960s that environmental issues began to receive any considerable attention in society. The 20th century witnessed a massive increase in environmental degradation as human interaction with the environment took a new form. Most of these problems are associated with massive population increase, over-exploitation of natural resources, mass industrialisation, generation of waste, and the accelerated extinction of species. As the consequences of increased human activity on the natural environment started to become apparent, the second half of the 20th century also saw a rise in eco consciousness.
Unfortunately, much of this new eco consciousness has not yet been translated into concrete action on a global level. Even while aware of the negative consequences of such actions, we have done little to change our harmful activities.
It is important to realise that historically as human communities expanded and economies grew, the environment suffered degradation. Currently, mass industrialisation and current transport systems which rely on fossil fuels have had a huge impact on our planet’s fragile ecosystem. This current pathway of human development is not only environmentally unsustainable; it also creates severe challenges to human survival. Unless a shift takes place, modern global civilisation could very well follow the paths of ancient civilisations that collapsed through the over-exploitation of their resource base.
A global change is needed, a shift in perspectives is necessary; unless there is a drive and desire to create change, nothing will be achieved. Environmental thinking has to be integrated in social, economic and political discourse. It is apparent that the environmental challenges that we face are in reality social, economic and political challenges, as it is societies and economies that cause these problems in the first place.
We now have to meet the needs of an ever-expanding global population in a way that does not degrade the earth’s ability to support us. Whether we talk about protecting biodiversity or ecosystems, recycling waste, or finding environmentally friendly and sustainable energy sources; we have to find pathways to redirect development towards sustainability.
No one country can tackle the challenges of sustainable development on its own. In fact multi-level solutions have to be developed at local, national, regional and global levels. The Green Up My Community campaign aims to look for solutions at a local level that can then be replicated in other communities.