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Sustainability: A New Perspective on a Broader Vision

When we talk about sustainability, the first thing that comes to mind is the environment. However, environmental degradation creates new dimensions that deepen the problem. Ultimately, solving the root problem depends on solving the other problems it causes. As we expend our energy on solving other problems, we move further away from the root problem. For example, in a world where the climate is deteriorating, there will be no economy we can sustain. Without an economy, there will be no society we can sustain. Ultimately, in a world of diminishing resources, there will be chaos we cannot sustain.

First, we must have a life to sustain for a sustainable future. A home, food to live on, drinking water, and a biosphere that makes these possible. To achieve this, everything must be in a sustainable balance. A cycle that is inseparable, where everything is connected to each other. A chain that hooks one to the other where one ends. For this to happen, there must be a new perspective and a common will.

Our universe is only inhabited in a corner of the known universe. We are alone right now in a grand design that our minds cannot comprehend. We continue to live in a universe where there are many dangers that we cannot see. Perhaps we have survived until now by luck in a universe where stars explode, asteroids collide and scatter around. However, despite this, we are doing the greatest damage to this little home we live in. We need to make the best use of this unique chance that nature has given us because we have nowhere else to go. Therefore, ensuring the sustainability of the system we live in is of vital importance to us.

Let’s not just look at nature with human eyes.

One of the most important characteristics that distinguishes us from other living beings is our consciousness. When talking about sustainability, we need to protect the balance not only for humans but for the whole ecosystem. You may say that this is what sustainability means anyway, that its purpose is to protect the entire ecosystem. However, what I mean is that we should feel the same responsibility for all beings as much as we do for ourselves. For example, even if an animal wants to harm me, I must avoid behaviors that will harm it. If I do the opposite, I will be no different from it. This is where the privilege of being human lies. Evaluating every subject, including sustainability, from a human perspective disrupts the peace between living things in nature.

This ecosystem does not belong to us alone. However, we selfishly take away the right to life of the plants and other living organisms that live on it. For example, we plunder the wilderness and drive animals from their homes. However, we need to know that our sustainable future depends on them. We all live in a tightly knit structure.

When we say sustainability, we are talking about the order of all living and inanimate things in nature, not just ours. In this sense, being sustainable does not mean just creating a livable planet for us because this is not possible.

Sustainability: The Basic Strategy of the Grand Mission

Sustainability is a very broad concept. Today, when discussing the subject, we skip over space and only talk about the world we live in. However, space is now entering our area of interest more than ever before. The reason we think this way is because we have been able to produce the technology that will increase knowledge geometrically. Therefore, we need to ensure the sustainability of not only our world but also its surroundings, even though it seems early.

A sustainable space is very important for the future of our species

Any process that starts slowly gains momentum as technology develops. In the near future, when quantum computers come into play, projects that will take years can be reduced to days. Moreover, with the artificial intelligence that is currently facing obstacles in the digital number system, many things that seem like a dream today can become a reality when combined with quantum computers.

Space Is the Key to Our Future

Even if we hadn’t had a climate crisis, we still wouldn’t have given up our dream of exploring the universe. It would be against our nature. As a result, our dream of exploring the universe with the technology we produce, slowly leads us to space. Even if we make everything sustainable, the Milky Way and Andromeda will collide at some point in history. Even if we escape from it, we should not be here when the Sun, which gives us life, runs out of fuel one day. In this sense, time has a nature that constantly pushes us forward.

This world no longer meets our expectations. The truth is that the climate crisis is irreversible. We are only trying to reduce its severity. The limit of the world’s resources that we can consume in a year is getting closer every day. The world is struggling to renew herself and we are eating up the rights of future generations

Infographic: Earth Overshoot Day Is Coming Sooner and Sooner | Statista You will find more infographics at Statista

Moon, Mars and other planets of interest to us are resources that will provide us with the necessary minerals for our journeys to other galaxies. However, if we want to dream of colonizing space, we must ensure the sustainability of our current home. We need to learn from what we have done on this world and plan accordingly. While our focus is on this world, half of our brains must be thinking about our future. Not seeing the colonization of space, will not relieve us of this responsibility. After all, sustainability is a concept that encompasses not only today but also future generations. This is a sufficient reason to think about the sustainability of space and beyond.

Technology Is Creating New Sustainable Concepts

As we produce technology, we create new concepts that need to be sustained in our lives. For example, as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things develop, cyber threats are also increasing. In this sense, the concept of cyber sustainability has also entered our lives. In addition, as cryptocurrency technology and artificial intelligence merge, the energy problem that is emerging in the world is growing even bigger. When we add electric cars to the equation, energy sustainability emerges as a heading.

Technology Is Not Equally Accessible

Today, technology is a much more effective transformative force than ever before. However, not everyone has the same chance to access technology. There is a large segment of the population that has difficulty adapting to the development of technology. Regions where the internet is not yet available are living a life far from technology. In an age where everyone is getting closer, most people cannot go beyond their local borders. This deepens problems such as poverty, including education and health, regionally.

Statistic: Countries with the highest number of people not connected to the internet as of January 2024 (in millions) | Statista
There are still people in the world who can’t connect to internet. You can find more at Statista

As technology evolves, the dimensions of sustainability are also expanding. Experts are now adding a fourth dimension to the previously established three: the human dimension. Currently, these four dimensions encompass all criteria, including technology.

4 Dimensions of Sustainability

Today, there is a general consensus that sustainability has 4 dimensions. These are environmental, social, economic and human. The four conditions are also closely linked.

The first dimension is environmental sustainability. Problems that cause climate change, such as global warming, greenhouse gas emissions, and the protection of biodiversity, fall within the scope of the environmental dimension. The mitigation of the impact of these problems depends on the rise of public awareness. For example, using renewable energy sources instead of fossil fuels and demanding this from other people, increases awareness.

The second is social sustainability. As I said at the beginning, the concept of sustainability requires continuity from the smallest unit to the most complex structure. If racism, income inequality, and gender discrimination are widespread in a society, that society is not in a sustainable structure. If there is no legal system based on human rights and freedoms, you cannot develop a vision for sustainability. People should have easy access to health, housing and other social development tools.

Human Influence on Climate Change Is Driven by Living Standards.

The third dimension is economic sustainability. Although it is seen as the profitability of businesses, this is not a sufficient explanation alone. The economic dimension of sustainability aims to improve living standards. When living standards are high in a society, so is the efficiency of capital. There is also economic growth in the underdeveloped regions of the world. However, if the quality is low, growth does not bring the desired prosperity. It provides a wealth increase, but it is not permanent. The important thing is to achieve both together.

Contrary to popular belief, sustainable economic growth is possible without harming the environment. As I’ve mentioned before, economic development, from our current perspective, cannot be sustainable. If we adopt a mindset that sees ourselves not as masters of nature but as its protectors, we can achieve the desired economic growth. Today, technology makes this possible.

Nature is not only our greatest economic input but also a living organism of which we are a part. In this sense, it is not just our wealth but also the most fundamental provider of the resources necessary for our continued existence.

Finally, we can consider the human dimension. Human and social sustainability are closely related. While social sustainability refers to the integration of humans as social beings into society, human sustainability aims at their development as individuals.

Equal opportunities in education and entrepreneurship, freedom of expression and travel, and easy access to technology enable individuals to connect with society and produce value. A society composed of qualified individuals also has high expectations. A better environment, better working conditions, prosperity, and, above all, looking to the future with confidence and hope. However, maintaining these dimensions in a healthy way is also dependent on a strong democracy.

Democracy Is Crucial for Sustainability

In general, we expect the solution to climate and other global problems from political institutions. However, we always witness that governments do not put much effort until it affects our lives. Politicians do not take much initiative until there is a movement among the people because there is no political return until then. Moreover, even if the future of humanity is at stake, if there is no reaction from the people, the subject remains in the background of their minds.

The same applies to business life. As long as consumers demand it, products that create greenhouse gases will continue to be sold. It suggests that the prevalent economic model, often summarized as "where there is demand, there is supply". You can see the sharp increase in production of coal above. Not improving living conditions results in higher coal consumption.

If the governments and corporations are today launching social responsibilities, this is the result of the profound impact of consumer choices on environmental sustainability. The reason of journey of the corporations to the zero carbon emission is not the being of hümanist but not to give damage to the image of their brand.

Consumers Are Driving Change

Consumers no longer want to buy a product that creates greenhouse gases. They are also not happy with companies that insist on selling such products. The same applies to the political institution. If governments and companies did not have expectations, corporate social responsibility projects would not be carried out. Therefore, this is not the virtue of politicians or CEOs, but of democracy.

Since the political institution and companies take a position according to the attitudes of ordinary people like us, we should also play the game by its rules. Sustainability is too important to be left to the initiative of politics. As I said at the beginning, the future of our species, which is alone in the universe, depends on this. All the burning problems of the world are human-caused, and we have to fix them again.

If we put sustainability at the top of our expectations from governments and business life, politics and the business world will take a position accordingly. By nature, they are not the ones who govern, we are. We can achieve this by not losing our awareness and making them feel our power over them.

In climate and other global problems, democracy should be the common language we will use.

If we realize our own power, we will see that there is no problem that cannot be solved. If we do not allow our perceptions to change under the influence of advertising and marketing, the system will listen to what we say. When we realize ourselves, we actually see that the conditions we deserve are not that far away.

We can say that we are slowly getting the results of this. For example, consumers are buying products of brands that are sensitive for the environment at a higher price. 80% of consumers say that sustainability is important to them. A wide range of people, from governments to employees, from investors to customers, want a more accountable structure in terms of sustainability. This common awareness is leading the world's leading companies to embrace transparency in sustainability. This is a positive role model for the whole world.

Statistic: Companies who report on sustainability worldwide from 1993 to 2020 | Statista
The number of companies that are transparent about sustainability is increasing every year. Statista

People Demand Good Governance

People are obliged to comply with the rules set by the managers in the corporations they work in and the societies they belong to. However, in return, they only want one thing, and that is to be well managed.

People want to be valued by the institutions they are affiliated with. Employees also live in the same society and direct its expectations. In this context, employees want to work with employers who care more about the environment and clearly state this in their business goals. According to a study, 71% of employees and job seekers prefer companies that provide environmental sustainability.

Sustainability Creates New Values

How beautiful it would be to have a utopian world where there is no danger instead of staying away from the dangers we live in. There would be no danger in a society where people who are respectful to each other, can empathize, are free-thinking, fair, and have internalized learning. Of course, a utopian society formed by people who really believe in nature's virtue, not like today's fake social responsibilities, is not possible. A world where people live in moderation and show the necessary respect for nature seems close, but unfortunately we cannot reach it. It is the nature of man that there are risks in every formation that includes man.

However, it is also in human nature to seek good. Even if we don't have all the virtues, when we look at the civilization we have created today, it seems like there is nothing we can't do. We often come across times in history when we have changed our perspective on the events we perceive as threats to ourselves. For example, as nuclear weapons increase, we understand their dangers better. As racism rises, we see how important human rights are. As women participate in production and social life, it becomes clear that men are not the superior sex.

In this way, we also ensure the sustainability of future generations. We understand that what we call development is not just about numbers. We see that a person who respects nature ensures sustainability. Today, we understand how valuable democracy is by looking at the results of totalitarian regimes and colonialism. All of these values ​​have emerged from the contradictory nature of man. Unfortunately, finding good is dependent on our experience of bad, but we have many reasons to be hopeful.

Conclusion

Sustainability is getting harder every day. We need to work harder every day for a sustainable future. Yet we still continue to evaluate the subject from our own limited perspective.

Although we are not even a speck of mass in the universe, our dreams are even bigger than the universe. The resources that seem endless in space are limited when compared to our dreams. Ensuring sustainability in an area like the earth and its surrouinding begins with the smallest unit: the human. We are the source of both good and evil. In this sense, the well-being of everything depends on our ability to maintain ourselves in a sustainable balance.

Note: I wrote this article in English to connect with a broader audience. This is my first attempt at writing in English, so I apologize for any grammatical errors.

Hakan Tanar

Hakan Tanar, 1971 yılında Adana’da doğdu. Evli ve 2 çocuk babası. 30 yıl satış ve pazarlama sektöründe çalıştı. Satış temsilciliğinden üst düzey yöneticiliğe kadar farklı kademelerde görev yaptı. Kendi işini kurarak perakende sektöründe 8 yıl faaliyette bulundu. Edindiği en büyük tecrübe öğrenmenin hayat boyu sürdüğüdür. Yazmaya olan isteği ve öğrenmeye duyduğu merakı kendisinde kişisel blog kurma fikrini geliştirdi. Bilim, edebiyat, tarih ve felsefeye ilgi duyuyor. Bugün ilgi duyduğu konular hakkında bildiklerini ve öğrendiklerini Monolog’da paylaşıyor.