What is Sustainability in practice and why should we care about it?

Here are some definitions of Sustainability we come across

  • The ability to exist constantly and to be maintained at a certain rate or level;
  • The capacity for the biosphere and human civilization to coexist;
  • Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

Can you believe that the number of people increased from less than 2 billion to almost 8 billion in the last 100 years?

As per December 2019, the world population has reached 7.8 billion people. Only 100 years back, we were a bit less than 2.0 billion. It took over 200,000 years of human history for the world’s population to reach 1.0 billion, and only 200 years more to reach 7.0 billion.

Over the last years, the growth rate has declined by 1.2% and it’s expected to continue declining. However, the global population is still increasing and is projected to reach around 10.0 billion in 2050.

Today, we live in extremes and inequalities!

Let’s look at the figures:

  • On one side, some people earn millions and others live on $1.2 per day! We are talking about 800 million people that are on the edge of existence.
  • Globally, one out of nine persons is undernourished, and we waste over 1.3 billion tonnes of food, worth around $1.0 trillion.
  • Basic infrastructure, clean water and healthcare are not available to all the people on the planet. More than six million children still die before their fifth birthday and only half of women in developing countries receive recommended health care.
  • More than 103 million youth worldwide lack basic literacy and more than 60% of them are women.

Our natural resources are in danger!

Let’s look at the figures:

  • Water scarcity affects more than 40% of the global population and it’s projected to rise.
  • More than 2.6 billion people lack access to basic sanitation services. One out of five people still lacks access to modern electricity. On the other side, households consume 29% of the global energy contributing to 21% of CO2 emissions.
  • Forests are home to more than 80% of all animals and plants. Today, 8% of known animal breeds are extinct and 22% are at risk of extinction.
  • Over 3 billion people depend on marine biodiversity for their livelihoods. About 40% of the world’s oceans are affected by human activities causing pollution, depleted fisheries and loss of coastal habitats.

Global emission of carbon dioxide has increased almost by 50% since 1990.

This is contributing to ozone-depletion which is a major cause for global warming and climate change. As an effect of global warming, the sea level could increase by 2m, which would be disastrous to any coastal city. In the last 2 years, national armies had to intervene in putting the fire down in various locations. Any other natural disaster could cause billions of damages for the economy and big losses.


References: In September 2015, the General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Building on the principle of “leaving no one behind”, the new Agenda emphasizes a holistic approach to achieving sustainable development for all. Check the UN SDGs