A Sip of Sustainability

Understanding ‘preservation’ and ‘conservation’,
and why leaders globally have been focusing on sustainable development as a way forward.

If we were to critically assess the approaches we take where everyday life and our goings on are concerned, we would realize how interesting our world view has developed over time, as it relates to dependency on being a ‘consumer’ rather than a ‘conserver’. Conservation is not to be confused however with preservation. While they are closely inter-related, there are marked differences in the way both work.

Conservation or Preservation? What’s the difference?
The two terms conservation and preservation are often confused and are used to mean the same thing, although differences exist. Conservationists include those who accept that change and progression are necessary for a better future, but only when the changes take place in ways that are not wasteful. What the conservationist opposes is not the harnessing of nature for mankind or the continuity of human existence, but the fact that often the impacts on the environment compromise that of progression.

Conservationists warn generally that if we continue to be wasteful and pollute the environment, then it wont just be our generation that suffers, but future generations too. Hence a need for sustainability in a very well structured and planned manner. Environmental conservation is more so relatable to the ideologies of environmentalism.

Preservation, on the other hand, involves an attempt to maintain, in their present condition, areas of the Earth that are so far untouched by humans. Preservationists are concerned that mankind is encroaching on the environment and many untamed landscapes are given over to farming, industry, housing, tourism and other human developments, and that we are losing a significant amount of what is natural. Environmental preservation is often regarded as a deeper form of environmentalism, or “eco-centrism”.

Some preservationists also hold the view that wildlife and ecosystems should be preserved, at all costs, regardless of the economic benefits they may have for humans. This follows from the belief that every living thing has a right to exist.

Having said all of that and listed ad nauseam the marked differences and possibly similarities in both preservation and conservation, it brings us back to the idea of ‘sustainability’.
We can actually recognize, even as a mere observer in the grand scheme of things that sustaining human life regardless of if you want to conserve or preserve, relies on a bringing together of several key elements for ‘development’.

Summing it up, we can surely see the value of a bringing together the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development coherently and efficiently requires establishing appropriate framework conditions and ‘tools’ for implementation.

On a global scale, several governments have either recognized the need for this, or even held the view that communicating this agenda is an essential part of a mutual understanding between sectors, states, and regions. Add international discussions which lead to agreements (trade, economic, diplomatic) to that list.

Our Local Context:
When we look back at our nation’s leaders, we can remember as if it were yesterday statements such as ‘the future of the nation is in the book bags of the children’. This can be translated in many ways and spark several discussions, but for now we can examine the importance of inculcating the idea of sustainability in our nation’s children.

Added to that is the education system and all that contributes to how this system works, and operates in the functional sense. The question is, how do you innovatively add value to a system that remains largely based on delivery of content by a teacher or educator?

Children are the basis for all dimensions of sustainable development. They have a right to thrive, develop to their full potential, and live in a sustainable world.
The next generation is surrounded by many influential role models in society, such as parents, siblings, teachers, friends, and even television characters if you throw the media into that equation. Their learning occurs through being explicitly taught by others, through direct observation, participation in activities and through sharing information.

As such, if children are at the centre of our sustainable goals, we must educate the next generation to ensure sustainable development becomes a priority for them.
Sustainability in the earliest levels of education, at home and in school, is an important part of a child’s upbringing. The older generation has the responsibility to make sustainable education a part of everyday practices, rather than a topic or theme to consider for a short time, it needs to be embedded within day-to-day learning.

Sustainable education enables educators and the children to promote a sense of responsibility, and fosters a show respect for our natural environment. Becoming active participants and bringing about inquiry and social change begins in the ‘book bags’ (and in this modern world the tablets or devices) of our nation’s children, if we come back to that age old statement which continuously resonates within the local context.

Goals for everyone:
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are universal goals for everybody.
Issues related to poverty, inequality and education exist in every country in the world. Learning about SDGs helps children with developing insights, connecting the dots and to understand how everything everywhere are inter-connected in some shape or form.

None of the problems identified or that we claim we want to ‘fix’, can be looked at and addressed in isolation. These issues are very much part of our social fabric. We would need to to make SDGs a part of everyday life. This contributes to the well-being of the earth and every living being that it nurtures, including us as human-kind. It is desirable that every individual work towards these goals as they are inherently global in nature and approach.

That way children too will grow up to be conscientious and bring about the positive changes that we all would like to see. Even if we don’t live to see it in our time, the next generation can surely tell the tale of “how we managed to become sustainable”.