Sustainability and the environmental movement are spheres that are often perceived as far too white and far too middle class. As a white woman, living in a relatively enlightened and developed nation, I know I am privileged in many ways. I am acutely aware of the challenges in making sure that sustainability is not excluding anyone. It is vitally important in this arena, as in any other, that everyone’s voices are heard. We don’t just need to transition to a zero carbon future. We need to have a fair transition, that does not leave anyone behind.
Sustainability is not just about building a greener world. It is about building a better one in many different ways. No society can truly endure when it is fraught with injustices and division. When it comes to race, gender, class and monetary status – it is clear to see that we do not live in an equal world. Equality in the social world, and environmental sustainability are often viewed as two distinct issues. But the two are very much entangled. We can’t build a better world without everyone having an equal stake in that future.
In our modern world, those who have the least often suffer the most. While those who, through happenstance of birth or geography, find themselves in incredible fortunate positions, continue to benefit throughout their lives. It is only when we address the fundamental imbalances in our societies that we can forge the change we need to see.
Like so many people right now, I am shocked and saddened by systemic abuses, and political decisions that do not address the deep-rooted problems at the heart of modern life. But we need to recognise that we all have a stake in the systems that surround us. We can all step up, and make our voices heard as we transition to a greener, fairer, more ethical and sustainable world.
We should all ask ourselves – how can I help make our world a fairer and more equal place? Kindness, empathy and compassion are a good place to start.