Communities across the world are getting more dynamic. The rise of technology and modernization has changed the way the people of communities interact and communicate with each other. The latest National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll found out that more people believe that technologies and connectivity have improved their overall quality of life. Young people are becoming more positive as well.
However, the study also found a substantial minority of people who are concerned about the increasing reliance of children and adults on digital technologies, making them less involved in the community. It also undermines local merchants, disrupts families and threatens other aspects of people’s lives.
Community leaders are worried about this trend in which members do not engage in creating a community that is sustainable. Without sustainability, the foundation of the community will weaken and will affect the quality of people’s lives.
What is a “Sustainable Community”?
According to the publication Building Sustainable Communities by the Office of Environment and Heritage of NSW Government, the concept of sustainability has its roots in the environmental movement in the 1960s which aimed to respond to the “impact of the society consuming natural resources faster than they could be replaced.”
In response to the scarcity of natural resources, communities should promote sustainability. Hence, social sustainability has taken place. According to Western Australian Council of Social Service (WACOSS), a social sustainability “occurs when formal and informal processes; systems; structures; and relationships actively support the capacity of current and future generations to create healthy and livable communities.” They also added that socially sustainable communities value equitability, diversity, connection, and democracy to promote a good quality of life.
Moreover, Simon Fraser University suggested that a sustainable community utilizes its resources to meet the needs of the people while ensuring that there are adequate resources available for the next generations.
Overall, a sustainable community basically implements and promotes sustainability goals for the welfare of the people while maintaining the nature’s ability to provide.
Why Do We Need to Create a Sustainable Community?
Sustainability is very important for “environmental, social and economic reasons.” Encouraging the people to contribute to their community entails social benefits, as well as economic and environmental advantages.
Community projects that require diverse groups of people offer valuable opportunities “to foster social inclusion, raise cultural awareness and promote community harmony.”
How to Create a Sustainable Community?
The challenge for us now is how to create a community that is sustainable. According to the United Nations Development Programme, a sustainable community depends on the local stakeholders to govern and support practices that integrate “smart growth, environmental justice, and equitable development” towards sustainable and inclusive neighborhoods.
An essential part in making our community sustainable is to conserve energy sources. It also includes the use of renewable energy, solar power, wind energy, geothermal heating and cooling systems and other clean sources of energy. The community leaders should plan and construct energy conservation practices and rules for the people to follow.
According to the Household Waste Statistics, households generate over 1.2 billion tons of waste every year. A household should practice environmental practices like recycling, reusing and composting to reduce wastes. Sustainability also involves turning wastes into resources and remanufacturing solid waste into marketable products. Leaders can strategize causes that promote waste reduction practices in the community.
Support Local Products
Communities shall also support the local products and businesses. This involves the local farmers who utilize organic farming that benefit not just the people but the environment. Access to healthy food is essential to sustainable living. Also, supporting local businesses boosts economic sustainability of a community.
Develop Public Spaces
Communities should have parks, gardens, orchards or any avenue that will enable them to interact and engage with each other. Public spaces separate people from the natural habitat of the wildlife. In urban communities, open spaces can be transformed into orchards or gardens which bring nature in the city. Community spaces stimulate social interaction and decrease crime rates.
Communities should be aware of the harmful effects of pollution to our health, the environment and to the world. There should be pollution-control strategies that reduce the production and release of harmful substances and chemicals that harm the land, water, and air.
Communities should design energy-efficient buildings and establishments. Green buildings incorporate the standards of LEED or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design which rate the eco-friendliness of establishments, including the use of renewable resources, indoor environmental quality and the sustainability in their construction.
Educate the Community
Most people have access to education. Communities should integrate into their educational systems the conservation of the environment. This is a very crucial way in encouraging the members of the community to take their active part in reducing waste, preserving the beauty of nature and conserving resources which affect greatly our living and the economic growth of the community.
According to NSW Government-OEH, it is an advantage for communities to work with people from a diverse range of cultures, religions, languages, and experiences. Diverse groups bring diverse skills, knowledge, and stories that are essential in creating policies for the common good. A community that embraces diversity makes new discoveries, relationships, and solutions for problems, both locally and globally.
Communities should also facilitate meaningful community engagement activities that will strengthen the interaction of all members of the community. In this area, the use of technology and digital communication shall be integrated wisely. Other means that would strengthen communication is to conduct forums, team-building activities, gatherings, and sports, among others.
Lastly, the most important of all – uphold the biodiversity. Our existence lies in the environment and the biodiversity. Our biodiversity maintains and promotes the equilibrium in our ecosystem. We humans should respect plants, animals, trees and natural resources. We owe our lives to them. Without the environment, there is no sustainability. Thus, communities should develop practices that promote the conservation of our environment and the biodiversity.