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Social Responsibilities Commission

Sustainable development
- back to basics

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Sustainable development - back to basics

Ian Carter AM, Member, Social Responsibilities Commission

I remember when the terms “sustainable” first started to be widely used during the 1980’s. We talked about it in many ways and it was often broken up into Economic, Social and Environmental Sustainability, and we started developing frameworks and academic programmes which explored what it all meant to all of us on this fragile planet.

Governments at all levels; businesses; and the community started using these terms in their strategic planning and their actions. We asked ourselves whether what we were doing was capable of being sustained into the future. A lot of it was about the environment but it was also about poverty and inequality, urban design, peace and justice.

Fast forward to today and we are surrounded by debates and thinking focused most strongly on Climate Change. The United Nations has created the 17 interlinked Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) which are to be used a focus for the globe to change what we are doing now and moving to new approaches. The SDG’s are;

No Poverty; Zero Hunger; Good Health and Well-Being; Quality Education; Gender Equality; Clean Water and Sanitation; Affordable and Clean Energy; Decent Work and Economic Growth; Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure; Reduced Inequalities; Sustainable Cities and Communities; Responsible Consumption and Production; Climate Action; Life Below Water; Life on Land; Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions; Partnerships for the Goals.

It’s a huge agenda for the globe and for nations and for all of us!

So, what do we do in the Anglican Diocese of Perth? Most importantly I think is to prayerfully and practically incorporate reflections and actions on these agendas into our daily life. The Anglican Consultative Councils Five Marks of Mission are part of the Mission 2020+ Plan for the Diocese. We are called to:

  1. Proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
  2. Teach, bapstise and nurture new believers
  3. Respond to human need by loving service
  4. Transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation
  5. Strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth

On a day to day basis, whether we are thinking about our family and loved ones, our parish community, or the Agencies and Commissions of the Church we are all called to transform this globe in all its interlinked elements.

The Frameworks from the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Five Marks of Mission are clear in their calling. We have a lot of work to do before we reach these Goals.

Solar, wind and other forms of power generation; a plastic free globe; lifting people out of poverty and oppression; planting trees; ending homelessness; recycling initiatives; sustainable transport options; rainwater and grey water; - the list goes on and we have no excuses not to act.

One of my favourite cartoons depicts two animals sitting on a log. One says to the other “Do you sometimes wonder why God allows poverty, famine and injustice when he could do something about it?” the other animal says “ Why don’t you ask him” to which the other animal says “ Because I am afraid that he might ask me the same question!”

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