More individual responsibility is required for sustainable development

We can not expect states or technological development to create a sustainable world. The use of resources - whether social, financial or natural - requires individual responsibility. Creating a responsibility through knowledge is crucial for sustainable development, writes Marcus Hjalmarsson at the organization Global Playground Stockholm.

Now there are only a few weeks left until the new development goals are to be adopted by UN member states. We are moving towards a universal agenda where everyone on earth works together for a better future. Some of the proposed goals are, for example, to have a sustainable management of our water resources, secure access to sustainable energy and make cities or settlements safe, dynamic and sustainable.

The development goals are well worked out, but the solutions must be universal and not dependent on innovations and technology. A large part of the solutions for sustainable development are behavioral and attitude changes.

Technology is not the answer

The agenda is that it is technical solutions that will create a sustainable societal development, despite the fact that it is a fact that other technical solutions have for a long time driven it in the wrong direction.

Of course, new technology and innovations create much more than a sustainable environment to live in - such as income, jobs and the like. Sweden has been fortunate to be part of the technical development. For example, we can choose from which energy source our electricity comes from, and nowadays we also transport ourselves from one place to another by car - with a minimal footprint on the environment. However, not everyone has that opportunity. And many ignore the possibility.

Changes in citizens in countries with similar standards as in Sweden, which have an almost infinite supply of resources, would have a major impact on creating sustainable development. We need to put more of the responsibility on individual households instead of believing that the states of the world will solve the problems. Taking more individual responsibility through knowledge can in turn create a community - a feeling that we are actually doing something together.

Important with education

The "Erasmus +" training program has drawn attention to the need to train households in the moderate use of resources. They are now funding projects that promote education in the environmental field. Our organization Global Playground Stockholm is part of the international project "Green in Everyday Life". The project aims to draw attention to environmental aspects - and problems - related to resource use through interactive training.

Through our project collaboration with partner organizations in Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom, Jordan and Morocco, the information obtained during the training will be compared between the countries. This is to build up a universal methodology for training sustainable resource use at a later stage.

Global commitment required

These projects funded by the EU are a good initiative, but not a comprehensive solution. In order to reach as many people as possible, an approach will be needed that provides quality information to a wider audience. Unfortunately, it is not enough for a few countries to implement possible solutions to make their inhabitants more aware. A global solution is needed.

The new development goals provide incentives for UN member states to work towards common goals. The goals are planned to be universal and should be able to implement complete solutions for different circumstances. What is not noticed in the goals - or in any other government policy - is that everyone should have an individual responsibility. Or at least have training to be able to take that responsibility.

Marcus Hjalmarsson

This is a debate article. The author is responsible for analysis and opinions in the text.

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