Sustainability Summit: Global Citizens, Local Heroes

Beth Brownlee is the Depute Head for the Business and Creative Centre at West Lothian College. Beth and a small team, including the Students Association, have organised a Sustainability Summit at the College and here she outlines some of the issues facing people all around the world when it comes to ensuring we do our part to combat climate change. 

Coronavirus, war in Syria, Universal Credit and poverty, fires in the Amazon and Australia…the world can seem like a worrying place, but did you realise that many people across the globe are already working together to try to make it better for everyone, with some strong guiding principles

In 2015 the United Nations established the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which were agreed as the greatest challenges of our time. These goals support the four pillars of a sustainable world – environment, society, culture and economy. That means they affect every part of your life and the lives of everyone across the globe.  

The SDGs are important and every government in the world is busy translating them into laws, policies and actions. This includes our own Scottish Government and it means that every student at college needs to learn about them so we are ready to put them into practice as we move further in our studies and into employment.

No doubt about it, a lot needs to be done. Over the last 50 years, we have been very effective at making our world handy and efficient. Disposable everything is easy to throw away and we put 223* tonnes into landfill every year, out of sight and out of mind.  

We ease our consciences believing that we can recycle plastic and clothes, but recently we found out that its shipped to other parts of the world and then dumped there, causing problems for those now living with our trash.  

In Scotland, we now have the most cars ever on the road, 3 million this year, almost all putting out fumes that pollute the air and produce poisonous carbon dioxide. Waste food produces methane in landfill and these greenhouse gases are making our planet warmer.  The goal is to limit temperature rise to 2 degrees, but many now believe this will not be possible, with flooding, increased rain and storms and melting ice caps the result. 

There is good news too – Scotland now has enough renewable energy to power the whole country!  Work on the Sustainable Development Goals is raising awareness, from primary school to college.  Greta Thunberg started the School Strikes and a worldwide movement of young people protesting that not enough has been done to stop climate change.  There is a lot that can be achieved with small changes. 

The people monitoring the global achievement of these goals are meeting in Glasgow in November this year.  Here at West Lothian we are ready to do our part, with a whole college sustainability summit on Wednesday 11 March and identify how we will get involved.  What will your change be? 

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