August 5, 2020

The Role of Education in the Sustainability Challenges


The concept of sustainability first appeared in the Brutland report in 1987. This concept was elaborated for the UN to warn about the negative environmental impacts of industrialization and globalization. Today, sustainability looks at meeting the needs of the present without comprising the ability of future generation to meet theirs. Sustainability is a new vision to the world and achieving it requires a multidimensional approach by looking into its four pillars. Embedded in sustainability consist of the human, environment, society, and the economy.

In attaining a sustainable world, we need to keep our environmental system in balance while consuming our natural resources at a sustained rate. There is also the need to ensure social equity regardless of educational, political, and economic consequence. More importantly, economic development should be reflective in the lives of people because people are the ends and means of development.

We must promote the knowledge of sustainability as well certain sustainable practices in meeting the needs of the present while looking at the welfare of the unborn generation. Sustainable practices are ecologically sound, socially just and economically viable. A few include recycling, up-cycling, composting, afforestation, green construction, energy efficiency in transport, etc.

Some amazing facts about waste, water and energy sustainability can be highlighted on to increase the need for the masses to be educated on sustainability. According to, an average stated gives that a single person generates 3 pounds of waste each day, which rises up by 1.6 pounds from 1960. Food and yard waste accounts for 27% of our annual waste, of which 14% is waste food purchases. One alternative that is readily available to people is composting. On average, two-thirds of our household waste can be composted.

With respect to energy sustainability, it is observed that one recycled bottle saves enough energy to run a 100-watt bulb for four hours and causes 20% less air pollution and 50% less water pollution than does making a new bottle. This indicates the heightened need to be well educated on the need for plastic recycling and its synergy with energy production.

Water is known to be one of the most basic needs that the world needs in order to survive but little is known as to it also being one of the most destroyed commodities available to man. Less than 3% of the world’s water is drinkable, of which 2.5% is frozen in the Antarctica, Arctic and glaciers. Man is polluting water faster than nature can recycle and purify water in rivers and lakes. Excessive water use adds to global water stress. On average, toilets use approximately 27% of the water consumed in your home. Switching household appliances to energy efficient ones can have a significant impact on your water use footprint.

Mobilizing education to respond to the many environmental problems we face cannot be underestimated, the role of the institution of higher education for sustainable development and the creating a movement of a young generation who care about not just their generation but the unborn plays a critical role in meeting the 1.5 degree temperature set by the IPCC, the Paris Climate Agreement and other international protocols of which Ghana has ratified in an attempt acting on the climate emergency, this is the reason some of us students  at the University of Ghana have taken on a week of sustainability to raise awareness to instill a culture of sustainability and inspire an environmental conscious generation by organizing a series of fun activities and workspaces, this we call the Sustainability Week Accra happening from March 2-7, 2020. These activities unlike the usual not youth friendly long conferences include a workshop on responsible consumption, a tree planting exercise, a movie screening and eco-vision board party,  and fireside talk among other fun-packed activities.

It is clear that we can’t continue to sit, watch and do nothing about the changes scenes of the environment but rather taking actions, building synergies and influencing a generation of the young for a secured sustainable future.


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