Sustainable Development

​What is Sustainable Development and how can we play our part?

It’s time to have a challenging conversation. What are we, as a school/organisation doing to care for our common home, planet Earth? As a Catholic school, educating future generations, we can play a major role in creating new and exciting possibilities that sustain our planet. We are called by Pope Francis to play our part in this challenge. The Pope states, ‘we must urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet’ and examine the role we can play in caring for our common home.

The science is clear and indisputable. ‘As the global population grows from 7 billion to almost 9 billion by 2040, and the number of middle-class consumers increases by 3 billion over the next 20 years, the demand for resources will rise exponentially. By 2030, the world will need at least 50 per cent more food, 45 per cent more energy and 30 per cent more water — all at a time when environmental boundaries are throwing up new limits to supply. This is true not least for climate change, which affects all aspects of human and planetary health’ (United Nations, 2012). We need to change how we think about the environment. Even the word environment can lead us to believe that we are separate from what’s out there….It’s not about saving the whales…it’s much more. We have to see ourselves as entwined with the environment. Rather than the environment, let’s use the word ‘surroundings’…of which we are part of. I do believe there is a movement across the world and a desire for sustainable development. Is it a strong desire though? Is it strong enough that we are willing to change some of our behaviours?

Sustainable Development is defined as ‘meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs’ (World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED). So, as adults living in this time, what are the small actions we can take to ensure our children and their children will inhabit a home that sustains their needs?

One idea is to reduce the carbon dioxide emitted from vehicles. The graphic below was provided to me by our organisation’s demographer. It shows how far our families live from our school. We have just under 140 students or 29% of our student population who live within 1500 meters of our school. Imagine! We could potentially have nearly 30% of our families walking a short 15 minutes to school! Of course, there will be some barriers to this. I appreciate parents have to leave for work early. Also, I would not endorse our younger students walking to school unaccompanied by an adult. Perhaps though, families who are within walking distance could plan to walk to school just one day a week/ fortnight? That’s a challenge I present to you, as parents. I am always happy to discuss this further with you or if you have any other ideas to help our school playing a leading role in the Sustainable Development challenge we all face.