Among the sustainability strategies for the management of natural resources , the regional commitment to environmental protection, the knowledge of the local natural capital and the individual actions that we can all take to conserve the environment stand out.
Sustainability or sustainability can be defined as the property of sustainable development , which implies “meeting the needs of present generations, without compromising the possibilities of future generations to meet their own needs.” This presents the dimensions: environmental, social and economic.
This definition of sustainable development has been controversial because of its anthropocentrism. In addition, there is incoherence in not raising one of the central problems of the global environmental crisis. The crisis is centered on the fact that the planet’s natural resources are limited and finite, and cannot sustain a population like the human one, which grows unlimitedly.
Development, understood as economic growth with a permanent increase in the consumption of natural resources (intensive exploitation) and the production of polluting waste at rates higher than those of natural replacement and sanitation, cannot be sustainable.
Among experts on the subject, the term sustainability is often used instead of sustainability to distinguish it from a vision based on biocentrism , which considers that all living beings have the right to exist and develop without existing supremacy of one over another.
According to the biocentric point of view, the planet’s natural resources do not belong to human beings. Humanity has a moral duty to adapt and limit its resource exploitation activities to the maximum capacity of nature to sustain and recover from these activities.
From biocentrism, sustainability is incompatible with unlimited economic and population growth, which leads to the overexploitation and contamination of natural resources until their exhaustion.
Sustainability strategies for the management of natural resources
According to the UN, the strategies to achieve sustainability are framed within the 17 sustainable development goals (SDG) established in the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.
The SDGs seek to end poverty, protect the planet’s natural resources and build a world of peace and prosperity for all people.
Regarding the management of natural resources, we can summarize some strategies proposed in the framework of the SDGs:
Commission on Sustainable Development (CDS)
The interaction of the world’s governments and environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with international organizations such as the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CDS) is essential.
The CSD fulfills the functions of coordination between the UN and the nations to achieve the transition towards sustainable development. This is generated through the design of public policies for the conservation of national, regional and local natural resources, such as:
– Surface and underground water bodies.
– The air.
– The forests.
– Biological diversity.
– The integrity of existing ecosystems.
The existence of alliances between governmental and private organizations, NGOs and civil society in general, ensures the continuity of regional environmental conservation programs.
There should be legislation in each country that promotes good industrial and urban practices, to avoid pollution and environmental overexploitation.
There must also be agencies to monitor and control all activities that involve possible environmental damage.
3-Knowledge of natural capital
The conservation and rational use of natural resources begins with a rigorous study of their availability in the environment, which is called a baseline study.
This type of study allows to know the existing natural capital and its state (polluted, depleted or not). In this way, it is possible to estimate the carrying capacity of the environment and the possible exploitation rates, seeking to ensure that they are in equilibrium with their natural replacement rates.
4-Training and commitment of civil society
Continuous campaigns to disseminate pertinent environmental information should be established to generate receptivity and sensitivity in the population regarding this issue.
These campaigns should disseminate local baseline studies and generate a commitment to improve environmental conditions with short, medium and long-term programs.
For example, it can be very useful to carry out reforestation campaigns with native species and to disseminate ways of saving electricity and water.
The sum of small local daily actions generates true global transcendental changes.
How can we support the transition to sustainability? Informing us and sharing information related to the preservation and good use of natural resources. We can consider the following concrete actions, such as:
– Install solar panels and promote the use of clean energy, friendly to the environment.
– Replace high energy consumption appliances and light bulbs.
– Use power strips and disconnect them when the connected electrical equipment is not used.
– Turn off equipment and lights while they are not necessary.
– Reduce the use of hair dryers, clothes dryer, washing machine and electric ovens.
– Insulate doors and windows to use less heat, and set the thermostat higher during the summer than in the winter.
Reduce our water footprint
– Take short showers, avoid using bathtubs and use less water in the toilet.
– Optimize the washing of dishes and clothes with full loads and washing with a minimum amount of water.
Take care of the trees
– Reduce the use of paper by printing what is strictly essential.
– Plant native trees and take care of them until their development.
– Protect forests from logging, burning and deforestation .
Be Conscious Consumers
– Support with our consumption those companies that have proven to use sustainable practices. To do this, we must seek information on goods and services and their life cycles.
– Consume local and natural products, as little processed and packaged as possible. Our goal is not to generate waste; therefore, we must avoid purchasing too many products.
– Consume less meat and fish, whose production involves a very high expenditure of resources.
Reduce our carbon footprint
– Know our carbon footprint —which can be calculated on various available web pages— and adopt non-polluting means of transport (such as walking, cycling or using public transport).
– Promote the use of clean energy sources, such as solar panels.
– Comply with the recycling program of our locality; if it does not exist, promote its implementation. For example, organic matter can generate compost for soils, and paper, plastic, glass and aluminum can be recycled by specialized companies.
Actively participate together
– Be the guarantor of the proper functioning of government, private and NGO organizations through joint participation in audits, actions and local campaigns.
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- Finkbeiner, M., Schau, EM, Lehmann, A., & Traverso, M. (2010). Towards Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment. Sustainability, 2 (10), 3309–3322. doi: 10.3390 / su2103309
- Keiner, M. (2006). The future of sustainability. Springer. pp 258.
- Kuhlman, T., & Farrington, J. (2010). What is Sustainability? Sustainability, 2 (11), 3436–3448. doi: 10.3390 / su2113436
- United Nations. (2019). The bum’s guide to saving the world. Sustainable development goals. Recovered from: un.org