'Make a pledge for your own sustainability goal'
By Alana Wheat, Sustainability Engagement Officer, Keele University.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provided a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. We've now reached half-time and COVID-19, the cost of living, conflicts and the climate crisis are all reasons for setbacks in achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, but we need to remain hopeful. In game terms, any match is won in the second half, so as a community we need to regroup, re-energize and make sure we win.
With climate targets getting closer with each year that passes by, there is increasing urgency in what needs to be done. A significant event that took place in 2023 was the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Climate Expo, which gave space for decision makers, businesses, community groups, and others to discuss local issues and solutions. For me, a quote from Chris Packham's (TV presenter and Naturalist) keynote speech illustrated the event: "The critical first step is empowering ourselves as individuals, developing the confidence to know that we can make a difference. You may say that we are just one drop in an ocean but what is an ocean if not a multitude of drops."
We can all make that difference in 2024, so here are four quick and easy starting points:
1. Every day is a learning day, come along to Keele University and attend the public talks and events.
2024 marks 75 years of Keele making a difference to meet the demands of a new kind of society, economy and world. Our academics are actively studying matters of global importance: from food security, climate change and smart energy, to neglected tropical diseases, global health and sustainable futures. Our students are on the front line of tackling sustainability issues, so it is our responsibility to equip them with sustainability competencies to thrive in this changing world.
The Keele Institute for Sustainable Futures will be showcasing sustainability research around International Days to celebrate and raise awareness, whilst sharing how Keele research is contributing to the discussions and solutions. All are welcome to join us for these webinars. Register on the Keele website.
2. Use your senses – connect with nature through sight, touch, smell, taste and sound.
Earth Day is particularly significant, taking place on and around April 22nd. Keele is working with Appetite and Keele Observatory to give some perspective on the planet Earth and provide some activities for people to get involved in. During Earth Day there will be activities to explore all the senses from being able to see the stars from the Observatory, touch the wildflower meadow, hear the wind whistle through the wind turbines and bird song in the woodland, and more. Mark the weekend in your calendar!
3. Get involved in local events and campaigns – your voice is powerful, and your actions are even more so.
April 22nd will also see the celebration of the Earth Stories Film Festival and this year's entries, taking place at the Mitchell Arts Centre. Young filmmakers aged 14-25 years old are invited to submit their work for an international film festival run by Keele staff and students. Awards are available in various categories including animation, experimental, documentary, fiction, young film (14–16-year-olds) and Keele students. The winners will receive £100 each. Submit online by the deadline on the 1st February 2024.
4. Pledge to do one thing that is more sustainable as an individual, and one thing you could do as a group in your community.
Part of my role at Keele is supporting all students and staff to embed sustainability in all that we do. I lead university wide training for Carbon Literacy so that everyone has the opportunity to learn about climate change and our human impact on the planet. After the training, attendees are asked to make a pledge which they can strive towards, so this is what I will now ask you to do.
Make a sustainability pledge, acknowledge our influence as individuals and empower your friends, family, neighbours, workplaces, and communities to create positive change.
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