Sustainability is mostly defined in the context of the environment. This environmental sustainability is defined as the ability of an environment to provide for a current population without compromising the future generations. This definition however sounds very abstract to people living in a small town or in an urban setting. The best way to understand sustainability is to take it in the context of a hometown; by monitoring the trends in the environment, trends in the local economy and trends in the social landscape of a small community. Sustainability is usually discussed on the global scale but this puts the concept into a smaller an more understandable scale.
Three Part’s of a Community’s Sustainability
To understand a communities sustainability one has to look at three different factors that affect the residents ability to sustain themselves and future generations.
- Economic Changes: Looking around a small town or even a large town over a given time period, it is possible to asses the economic changes. Looking at the availability jobs, one can determine if the whether the community is successful or not. The poverty level is also indicative of a community’s success or failure coupled with the availability of affordable homes.
- Social Changes: Local elections and the voter turn out can be used an indicator of the social changes occurring within a community. The number of candidates vying for specific seats shows the interest of community members. Crime rate numbers are also another indicator of social change.
- Environmental Changes: Changes here include changes in the air and water quality; is the water quality diminishing or improving. Changes in the local wildlife numbers; are wild animal populations on the rise or is there an increase in endangered species.
The Relationship between the Three Parts
For a community to determine its sustainability the relationship between the three parts needs to be in harmony. The environment supports the society which in turn supports the economy. If there are changes in the natural environment and the water and air quality starts worsen, this affects the livelihood of the society and finally impacts the economy. Understanding sustainability at the local level helps develop sustainable communities where resources consumption is balanced with resource production. To develop a sustainable community, community members need to get involved. The community can start by,
- Planning ahead and setting measurable goals.
- Investing in sustainable agricultural practices and fisheries to support the growing community.
- Keeping the community involved is the key.
- Investing in sustainable projects and programs that keep the economy growing.
Remember, global changes start at the local level.