What does sustainability mean to you? Sustainability can mean environmental sustainability, in which we reduce our impact on the environment to maintain an ecological balance. However, this does not take into account human development in which everyone deserves a better quality of life. At Helixos, we strive to make the world a better place for everyone, and therefore pursue sustainable development, for the sake of our own future, and the other species that we share this planet with.
According to the United Nations (UN), sustainable development means meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The environment is still a very important piece in this, humans cannot thrive without the biodiversity of a thriving ecosystem. This is why the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), shown below, encompass both human and environmental aspects.
The 17 SDGs shown above were established in 2015, when a new global agenda was needed to progress on the Millenium Development Goals, which guided countries and the UN from 2000 through 2015 in the battle against poverty and diseases. The new agenda called for a more holistic approach to development, with sustainability at its core, and including all countries, no matter where they are in terms of development. This is the first time that all countries in the UN have agreed to follow a widespread global agenda.
Going deeper than the UN and government levels, these global goals and indicators allow for all organisations, businesses, and individuals to contribute towards sustainable development. This is why, at Helixos, we use the SDGs to track the impact of our projects and don't take on projects that don't contribute to sustainable development.
We encourage others to do the same and recently spoke at a forum with several engineering and science civil societies, hosted by Engineers Australia, to talk about the SDGs. At its core, we see engineering as problem-solving, often utilising science and technology. Technology can help us prosper and live in harmony with the environment around us.
Most engineers are already contributing towards the SDGs in some way. And, you don't have to be an engineer by training to solve problems and have a positive impact through science and technology. On this World Engineering Day, we challenge you to think about your contribution towards sustainable development and how you can shift your professional or personal work to do more.
The following workbook is adapted from our presentation on the SDGs at Engineers Australia. It contains basic information and progress on the goals and how you can contribute. It's helpful to think about and write your answers for the reflective questions and then refer to them later. The workbook includes progress on the goals in Australia and you can find more information on your own country on the SDG Index Dashboard. There are also many other resources listed at the end of the document to help you continue your own work. Finally don't forget to share and spread the word with your colleagues and friends.
Helixos' work on encouraging others to contribute to sustainable development supports the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:
More specifically, the following targets:
17.6 Enhance North-South, South-South and triangular regional and international cooperation on and access to science, technology and innovation and enhance knowledge sharing on mutually agreed terms, including through improved coordination among existing mechanisms, in particular at the United Nations level, and through a global technology facilitation mechanism.
17.16 Enhance the global partnership for sustainable development, complemented by multi-stakeholder partnerships that mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technology and financial resources, to support the achievement of the sustainable development goals in all countries, in particular developing countries.
17.17 Encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships.