Sustainability is the Key to our Planets Future

December 14, 2020

Worldwide consumption and production — a driving force of the global economy — rest on the use of the natural environment and resources in a way that continues to have destructive impacts on the planet.

Economic and social progress over the last century has been accompanied by environmental degradation that is endangering the very systems on which our future development — indeed,our very survival — depends.

A few facts and figures:

  • Each year, an estimated one third of all food produced – equivalent to 1.3 billion tonnes worth around $1 trillion – ends up rotting in the bins of consumers and retailers, or spoiling due to poor transportation and harvesting practices.
  • If people worldwide switched to energy efficient light bulbs the world would save US$120 billion annually.
  • Should the global population reach 9.6 billion by 2050, the equivalent of almost three planets could be required to provide the natural resources needed to sustain current lifestyles.
  • Food accounts for over a quarter (26%) of global greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Half of the world’s habitable land is used for agriculture.
  • 70% of global freshwater withdrawals are used for agriculture
  • 78% of global ocean and freshwater eutrophication (the pollution of waterways with nutrient-rich pollutants) is caused by agriculture.

An opportunity for systemic change

The current crisis is an opportunity for a profound, systemic shift to a more sustainable economy that works for both people and the planet. The emergence of COVID-19 has underscored the relationship between people and nature and revealed the fundamental tenets of the trade-off we consistently face: humans have unlimited needs, but the planet has limited capacity to satisfy them. We must try to understand and appreciate the limits to which humans can push nature, before the impact is negative. Those limits must be reflected in our consumption and production patterns.

COVID-19 can be a catalyst for social change. We must build back better and transition our production and consumption patterns towards more sustainable practices.

What is the Council doing?

 The Consumer Council of Fiji is part of a global campaign and a rising movement against unsustainable consumerism along with Consumers International – the membership organisation for consumer groups around the world.

In order to promote sustainable consumerism, every year Consumers International coordinates the Green Action Fund (GAF), collaborative project by Consumers International and the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC). This annual grant scheme strives to promote sustainable development and reduce poverty by promoting worldwide awareness and advocacy activities which encourage sustainable patterns of consumption. The Consumer Council of Fijiis the only recipient of this grant in the Pacific and through this grant, the Council has launched the “Back to my Roots” project with the theme Food Security: Planting Organic Food Using Traditional Methods.

In addition to this, the Council is using other platforms such as mobile units, community visits,workshops, social media and the mainstream media to advocate on sustainable consumerism and educate consumers on how they can become more sustainable.

What are the activities the Council is doing in this project?

One of the pillars of this project is Sharing Community: ways that sharing and collaboration bring more equal and sustainable access to goods and services for the benefit of people and the planet. The Council collaborated with relevant stakeholders to create a platform in selected villages in order to enable ‘Sharing’ of ideas, perspectives, issues and solutions relating current farming practices. This project is being implemented in the Lomaivuna Sector in province of Naitaisiri.

Through this project, the Council is creating awareness on the responsibility of consumers towards the environment, educating them on good practices towards improving and restoring ecosystem by employing sustainable farming techniques that promotes biodiversity and the importance of sharing knowledge in villages.

The Council is also engaging Fijian youths in order to have a more profound impact on sustainability. One of the ways the Council is doing this is through social media. A social media competition is currently being carried out by the Council calling on youths to share their views on sustainable consumption and production.

What will this project achieve?

 The project will not only help create a sharing community that helps foster food security and alleviate financial distress but will also equip Fijian consumers to better face adversities posed by any crises. The current COVID 19 pandemic has taught us that we need to be resilient inthe face of crises and this is the essence of this project.The project is the Council’s initiative to be part of a wider, global movement against unsustainable consumerism and to help consumers find practical solutions for global consumer issues.

Furthermore, by engaging youths and communities and educating them on sustainability, theCouncil will be able to have an impact on future consumers. Education for sustainable development is not only about being environmentally-friendly; it also involves developing life-skills including leadership, communication and management; all of which are extremelyimportant for personal development. By equipping young people with these relevantcapabilities in addition to their environmental knowledge, they can excel at living lives whichnot only further humanity, but that care for and respect our planet’s resources too.

“Sustainable development is the pathway to the future we want for all. It offers a framework to generate economic growth, achieve social justice, exercise environmental stewardship and strengthen governance” – Ban Ki-moon