Role of Lifestyle Choices in Achieving Sustainable Development Goals
Sustainable development is the masterful balance or development which meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The three pillars of sustainability viz., environment, society and economics are widely affected by lifestyle. Lifestyle choices depend on citizens and cultural characteristics of a country. It is a system of habits that are often governed by social fundamentals. On the other hand, sustainability can be achieved when humans and nature can co-exist in productive harmony, and when humans can maintain sustainable lifestyles.
Sustainable lifestyle is to imbibe the values and ideals of this co-existence, balance and harmony in our daily lifestyle choices. Sustainable lifestyle requires us to reduce and optimize our carbon footprint. This can be achieved by using alternative methods of transport, pooling of resources, rethinking energy consumption as well as regulating our diet. Efficient use of water resources, protection and restoration of our forests, conserving biodiversity and natural habitats are some of the areas we need to focus in the modern day. Encouraging sociable, active and meaningful lives to promote good health and well-being, both of humans and nature, should therefore be the central focus of sustainable lifestyle.
Sustainable lifestyle choices play a vital role in achieving Sustainable Development Goals, which are part of the 2030 Agenda. What we eat, how we travel and all of our lifestyle choices have an indirect or direct impact on environment and sustainability. If we don’t take environmental issues seriously, the ongoing environmental degradation will speed up at an alarming rate. Extensive use of green technologies and sustainable methods of production, switching to renewable resources, reducing carbon emissions and implementing the three Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) in our daily routine can be of great help.
Incorporation of sustainable habits in our lifestyle, introspecting the impacts of the choices of our food, products and energy use are all steps we need to take take. But the first step is to educate ourselves beginning with learning about our ecological footprint. This will start giving us the necessary ideas we need to begin the green change in our lifestyle. Production, processing, packaging, and transportation of food is highly dependent on the use of fossil fuels and chemical fertilizers. These can greatly affect our health and the environment. We must therefore think before we eat and make the right food selection.
To minimize the damaging impact of our current transportation choices, we should adopt sustainable methods of travel. Sustainable homes are not only better for the planet, but offer opportunity for great cost savings. Sustainable lifestyle is the need of the hour, by adopting green products and recycling electronics we can reduce over consumption right away. It is the most effective way to achieve sustainability. Reducing over consumption will lead to more productive lives and a better chance for our future generations to live a productive life as well.
Sustainable living and lifestyles appear in the Sustainable Development Goals 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) but has implications for all other goals. UN Environment Program is a long-time proponent of sustainable living and lifestyles through the One Planet Network co-led by Sweden and Japan. Healthy lifestyle is an important prerequisite for sustainable development. Lifestyle that have significant adverse impacts on national capitals like environment and diversity are a threat to humanity. Lifestyle modification is a crucial factor for preventing wasting capitals. It is one of the best ways of keeping and developing national capital.
SDG 12 advocates that resources should be efficiently used to reduce global food and other waste. It highlights the significance of strengthening scientific and technological capacity in developing countries to switch to sustainable patterns of consumption and production. SDG 12 monitoring focuses on progress made in decoupling environmental impacts from economic growth. It calls for action on all fronts. According to the UN, sustainable consumption and production is all about promoting efficiency of energy, sustainable infrastructure, and providing access to basic services, green and decent jobs and a better quality of life for all. For SDG 12, the UN has defined 11 Targets and 13 Indicators.
Today, we are polluting water faster than nature can recycle it. Each year, one-third of all food produced is wasted due to poor transportation and harvesting practices. This needs us to rethink our food choices; 2 billion people globally are overweight. Switching to energy efficient lighting devices is considered a good measure to live a sustainable life. This needs us to rethink our lighting choices. Land degradation, decline in soil fertility, inefficient use of water, overfishing are all reducing nature’s ability to provide. This needs us to rethink our production processes.
Sustainable consumption and production also contribute to poverty alleviation and the transition towards low-carbon and green economies. The efficient management of our shared natural resources serves as an important target to achieve goal 12. Encouraging industries, businesses and consumers to recycle and reduce waste is equally important, as is supporting developing countries to move towards more sustainable patterns of consumption by 2030.