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  • Writer's pictureOriana Silva

Facing Sustainability in a Global Perspective

Updated: Dec 14, 2020

Hand holding a world bulb surrounded of leaves.
Let's focus on a sustainable foundation to improve our world!
Figure 1.1: The 17 Sustainable Development Goals
Figure 1.1: The 17 Sustainable Development Goals

Figure 1.1 shows The 17 Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations in 2015. This Agenda explains a holistic approach to achieving sustainable development for everything.

A Sustainable life can be achieved with the equilibrium between society, environment, and economy; however, it could be difficult to define the procedures to follow this smart-living, and even more to adapt those to a global perspective, but this is possible. Sustainability is not a utopia; it is a lifestyle that will preserve our home and its guests. The United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals give us an overview of the main issues that concern our planet nowadays. Its indicators and targets conform to a list of tasks to do before 2030, or more specific before our planet gets destroyed by our actions/inaction.

Kid holding an empty plate
Figure 2.1: A hunger little boy

Figure 2.1 shows a kid holding an empty plate, representing Goal 2: Zero Hunger. According to UNESCO, "795 million people remain undernourished, a figure that is expected to increase by an additional 2 billion by the year 2050. Worldwide, the vast majority of people suffering from hunger live in developing countries, where 12.9 % of the population is undernourished."

Even though it is difficult to choose between seventeen amazing ideas to improve our global society, the most important global goals, in my opinion, should be zero hunger, good health, and well being, and quality education. I would select zero hunger as the first main goal because, according to Maslow’s pyramid of needs, this is the base of everything. A person who is not well feed would not be able to develop his or her skills at work or school; also, he or she has a high risk to contract any disease.

Figure 2.2: Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
Figure 2.2: Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Figure 2.2 explains Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs Pyramid. This sustainable research is based on the Physiological Needs & Safety Needs established by Abraham Harold Maslow.

Figure 2.3 is an interactive map where readers can navigate through their preferred state and/or city to observe and analyze the statistics of the Organic Food Consumption in the United States.

Fighting for a Zero hunger world does not only mean to ensure food access to humanity, it is also to guarantee a healthy diet that will improve human growth and well-being in our society. According to this map, organic food consumption in the United States is low. It is great that our country provides access to a food variety; however, our fast life is an impediment to harvest and to consume 'greener.' The use of pesticides and fertilizes in fruits and vegetables deteriorate our neurological system, and we do not even pay attention to this matter. Besides, the cost of any organic product in the US can be twice expensive as any regular product; in consequence, not everyone can afford this diet. We must tare the balance of human priorities.

Figure 3.1: Hand X-ray
Figure 3.1: Hand X-ray

Figure 3.1 shows a hand x-ray representing the importance of healthcare nowadays. According to UNESCO, "US$1 billion is spent each year on vaccines which can save up to 1 million children per year. Since 1990, thanks to vaccines, 17,000 fewer children have died every day, but more than 6 million children are still dying before their fifth birthday each year."

The second main goal should be ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all ages. Due to a healthy mind and body could be useful for developing new ideas and programs to achieve the other Sustainable Development Goals, we must work harder on this goal. As an example, an Alzheimer's patient, although he is well feed, his thoughts cannot grow up if he is not healthy. However, if his illness is treated, that degenerative process could be retarded, being then the patient able to do his work tasks, activities, etc. It is necessary to provide access to an affordable health system for everyone.

Figure 3.2 is an interactive map where readers can navigate through their preferred state and/or city to observe and analyze the statistics of Diabetes Patients in the United States.

Another example could be the diabetes patients. They have a preexistent condition that limits their performance in any task or their studies. According to this map, the center and the east coast of the US have a high rate of diabetes. This illness is strongly related to the bad habits that Americans have concerning their food consumption. Here we appreciate how SDG: Zero Hunger effects directly SDG: Good Health and Well being, as we discussed before. If Americans take more care of their diet by introducing organic food, they would be healthier; they would have a low risk of contracting any disease. We are what we eat, so eat greener.

Chalkboard with a drawing about the Sustainability's core
Figure 4.1: The Sustainable Core

Figure 4.1 explains the core of sustainability. In order to achieve a sustainable world, we must reach the equilibrium between these branches.

The last main goal should be quality education. With inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning, we could get an improvement as a society; due to, each human being will be able to learn about different subjects, to establish more options to achieve a better community and to avoid any immoral situation. As Simon Bolivar, the liberator of South America, said, "An ignorant people is the blind instrument of its destruction."

Figure 4.2 is an interactive map where readers can navigate through their preferred state and/or city to observe and analyze the statistics of Education in the United States made in 2017.

As you can notice in this map, the majority of the population in the USA does not have a Post High School Education. They mostly arrive at some college-level without an Associate's Degree completion. One of the main reasons could be the high cost of colleges and universities in this country. The minimum wage average barely covers individual expenses; due to this, people tend to work more and study less to satisfy their basic needs. They do not see higher education as a 'Sustainable Path' or investment. Therefore, we must demonstrate that Education in Global Citizenship would be the best way to guide our country towards Quality Education for all Ages.

Figure 4.3 is an interactive map where readers can navigate through their preferred state and/or city to observe and analyze the statistics of Education Spending in the United States made in 2020.

Table 1: Dallas College Degrees Awarded
Table 1: Dallas College Degrees Awarded

Table 1 shows the Dallas College Degrees Awarded to students through 2015-2016 school year until 2020-2021 school year. Being in total 67,107 students awarded. Figure 4.4 lists the degree acronym significations.

Figure 4.4: Dallas College Degrees
Figure 4.4: Dallas College Degrees

For example, Dallas College awards thousands of students per academic year with low tuition! $79 per credit hour, or $948 for a full-semester load of 12 credit hours. Being under the average household spending for education in Dallas County, which is $1,750 per fiscal year; also under the national average which is $1,789. In addition, our college has a variety of degrees that adapt and develop students' skills to the workforce environment.

hands holding an Earth with a tree and a butterfly
Figure 5.1: Let's sustain our future!

We are the only ones who can make a difference in our future.

Some solutions to these global issues can be facilitating food and health to all unemployed people or those that their salary is not enough to cover their basic needs; as long as they work in community projects or study. Also, creating a program based on low prices in treatments and or financial aid to pay medicines for everyone who has an illness. In the education rubric, it is necessary to reintegrate all the homeless in a work-study program, which will help them to improve their lives and this society. Besides, higher education should be less expensive and have more financial programs for all students who cannot afford tuition, including international students. If we achieve these three main global goals, we will be able to devise more ideas and projects for the other 14 SDGs, building then a better world for everyone. Remember, being sustainable is the best heritage that you can give to your children.


Meet the Author:

Figure 6.1: Oriana Silva picture
Figure 6.1: Oriana Silva
“I always cared about the environment even before arriving to the United States; the lifestyle I grew up with made me aware of how impactful it can be if natural or general resources are mismanaged. I look every day horrified how people waste food, water, electricity and money without perceiving the damage that they do to our planet. They don’t even know how many individuals outside this beautiful country struggle due to their governments’ inability to meet their basic needs.”

-Oriana Silva

Sustainability Intern at Dallas College

President & Founder of The Sustainable Age: Student Journal

French & Chemistry Student at University of North Texas


Look here the original StoryMap:

Sources: Carson, Rachel, 1907-1964. Silent Spring. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2002. Global Environment Outlook GEO-6 Regional Assessment for Latin America and the Caribbean. United Nations Environment Programme (2016). McLeod, Saul, 2020 "Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs." The 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development. Website. UNESCO: SDG Resources for Educators. Website.

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