By Umar Farouk Ahmad, TeachSDGs Champion, Nigeria
What is Sustainable development? Sustainable development has been defined in many ways, but the most quoted definition is:
“Sustainable development is development that means the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (Common Future, Brudtland Report).
On the 25th of September 2015, the United Nations Member States gathered at the Sustainable Development Summit to adopt the 2030 Agenda, which included a set of 17 Sustainable Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by 2030. These goals include:
Each of the SDGs are related to the environment which makes clean environment the lifeblood towards achieving sustainable development. Environment means the surrounding habitat of man. In its widest sense, it refers to the entire earth with its green forests, the oceans, the layers of air and oxygen. This leads to Goals 12, 13,14 and 15 as being categorized as ‘Environmental SDGs.’
We know today, all development is taking place in a world shaped by climate. That’s what makes Goal 13: Climate Action fundamental among all other SDGs. Climate change is the significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. Climate change is caused by factors that include oceanic and biological processes, variations in solar radiation received by Earth, plate tectonics, and volcanic eruptions. Climate change is often used to describe human specific impacts.
Climate Change and Relation to other SDGs
Climate change and poverty are linked together. Ending climate change and poverty are the defining issues of our time, they cannot be considered in isolation. We cannot end extreme poverty or meet the goals for sustainable development by 2030 unless we cut emissions and invest in greater, cleaner energy resilience to the impact of climate change. Without actions, the impact of climate change could force many people into poverty.
The impacts of climate change range from unprecedented heat waves, droughts, super storms, record breaking floods, heavy monsoon rain, rising sea levels, destruction of aquatic habitat (fish, coral reefs, etc.), earth quarks, and agriculture. Without action, climate change would likely spark higher food prices and threaten food security for people in the poorest region of the world. It would also intensify threats to people health due to climate related diseases like malaria and diarrhea.
All these effects are mostly caused by:
Most climate scientists agree the main cause of the climate change (current global warming) is human expansion of the “greenhouse effect”- warming that results when atmosphere traps heat radiating from Earth toward space. Carbon dioxide and several other greenhouse gases live in the atmosphere for a very long time. To really understand this, imagine a bath tub with a very small drain pipe. The bath tub fills up faster and faster as the drain refuses to let the water out. This shows that human activities are changing the natural greenhouse. Over the last century, the burning of fossil fuels like coal, petrol, and diesel combines with oxygen in the air to make CO2. To a lesser extent clearing of land for agriculture, industry, and other human activities has increased concentrations of greenhouse gases.
4 Ways for Schools/Classrooms to Support a Clean Environment for Sustainable Development
I would like to end by saying, climate action is fundamental towards achieving a sustainable development. Let us all work together in saving our mother planet to make it a better place for us and for the unborn tomorrow.
Umar Farouk Ahmad was born and raised within the walls of the ancient city of Kano. As a young boy from the locality of Kofar Mata, he was inspired by his teachers to be useful to humanity. Currently, Umar is an MSc Nuclear physics candidate in Bayero University Kano, Nigeria with experience in Renewable Energy, Energy & Environmental Conservation, and Nuclear Energy Management. He designed a solar water still as his undergraduate project to help increase its efficiency for purification of water in the rural areas and to provide access to portable and clean water. "One of my teachers used to say: 'A good idea is meaningless without the courage to act; you must speak up.' I shall continue to speak up for people and planet." You can connect with Umar on Twitter at @uphaarouk.