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Module 4: RESPONSIBLE CONSUMPTION AND PRODUCTION (SDG12)
RESPONSIBLE CONSUMPTION AND PRODUCTION (SDG12) AND THE ACQUISITION OF 21ST CENTURY SKILLS
Overall Aim of Sustainable Development Goal 12
Introduction of responsible consumption and production is of a particular importance for practical and day-to-day implementation of the goals of sustainable development. Sustainable living is a lifestyle that aims to reduce the use of the individual and society's natural and personal resources. By applying or modifying the methods of transport, energy consumption and nutrition, carbon dioxide emissions are reduced. Achieving responsible production and consumption enables environmental, social and economic needs to be met without compromising these factors for future generations. In fact, this philosophy is based on the principle of "intergenerational equality". If this principle is not respected, then the environmental damage done today, passes into the future.
Sustainable development and design are key factors for sustainable living. Sustainable development refers to the development of appropriate technology that is a key element of sustainable life practices. In return is the use of these technologies in the infrastructure.
The concept of responsible consumption and production is aimed at preserving natural ecosystems and its natural wealth, while raising environmental quality and overall the quality of life. It means that man would use nature as much as its renewal allows , and will protect it from degradation. The point is that it provides the opportunity for further advancement of civilization, with moderate consumption of resources and space. Responsible production and consumption should be trade-off for the destructive effects of human activities.
Given the constraints of space and resources, the idea of giving up the need to abandon constant emphasis on production to meet new needs, that is, the idea of slowing down, and, at some point, stopping economic development to protect the environment, quality of life, and generally because of people themselves, is spreading. The change in the way people consume is one of the most important principles. Through responsible consumption, resources are used only to satisfy basic human needs and necessties, not for luxury.
This process can be achieved gradually, through the development of environmental awareness, by increasing the accountability of state institutions, by properly revising the existing economic and legal system , by increasing the involvement of science, society organizations and educational institutions for solving current environmental problems.
Why is it important for educational community?
A well-educated person is much more than simple ability to reproduce facts and data. What the teachers and educators are supposed to strive for is to equip their students with the necessary skills of the 21 Century in order to enable them to contribute and develop as active members of the society and to inspire them to make positive changes. Hence, the need to invest in the improvement of the education formal or nonformal. Introducing the goals of sustainable development since young age through interactive, didactical approach will help build future generations aware of the problems and challenges that they will face and provide them the skills to overcome them. Introducing the Eco Standards and paying more attention to sustainable development in the curriculum of all teachers , regardless the subject they teach in the last four- five years now has brought about positive changes in the eco mindset of our students and our society as well. This has helped to build a new generation of youngsters aware of the global problems of the 21 century such as global warming, greenhouse effect, destruction of the ozone layer, renewable resources, pollution, sustainable development etc. It is by encouraging students through various activities in the educational process that the students are introduced with the ways and importance of responsible consumption and production and thus acquire knowledge and skills for effective usage of natural resources. Just as it is widely accepted that children should be introduced to sports ,music or languages early in their life if they are to develop a high proficiency it is equally as important to be introduced to the goals of sustainable development and responsible consumption and production respectively. If are to have a responsible well educated adult member of our communities and society in general we must start shaping that person and developing it starting since preschool and primary school via creative ways of teaching, introducing modern communication, innovative approaches and bearing in mind the development of the six important 21 century skills ( character, citizenship, collaboration and teamwork, communication, critical thinking and problem solving and creativity and imagination.
Key dimensions of Sustainable Development Goal 12
The key dimensions covered by the goal of "Responsible consumption and production" are sustainable use of energy, food, water, as well as proper use of waste and their environmentally friendly disposal.
Sustainable use of energy
Energy is used on a daily basis in schools, at home, at work and even during recreation. Efficient use of energy is one of the simplest ways to reduce environmental pollution. Saving it also helps save world resources such as natural gas, oil, water, and thus helps save money on daily bills. Conscientious use of energy reduces air and water pollution, making the environment a better place for living.
The term energy efficiency is associated with two possible meanings. One refers to appliances and the other refers to measures. An energy efficient appliance is a device that has a high degree of beneficial effect, it has a small loss of energy in the process of transforming one type of energy to another. Measures taken to reduce energy consumption, whether technical or else, are high in all respects .In the future, we need to be more responsive to : replacing non-renewable fuels with renewables; placing insulation in a room that is heated or cooled; installation of measuring and control devices; control of the amount of sunlight entering the premises, etc. Energy is of utmost importance for the growth and development of all mankind and should, therefore, be used rationally.
Sustainable use of food
Globally, foodstuffs represent 48% and 70% of the environmental impacts, on land and water resources, respectively; consumption of meat, dairy products, and processed foods increases rapidly with income. Industrial agriculture production is a major source of raw materials and it is energy intensive. Industrial agriculture systems usually require extensive application of irrigation systems, extensive pesticide and fertilizer application, intensive tillage, concentrated production, etc. The results of these industrial agricultural stresses are: water mass depletion, chemical leakage, soil erosion, land degradation, loss of biodiversity and other environmental problems. On the other hand, significant carbon dioxide emissions that disrupt the climate are driven by long-haul food transport. A sustainable food acquisition tool is buying locally and seasonally. Buying food from local farmers reduces carbon production and stimulates local economy. Seasonal food production does not require energy intensive production in greenhouses, extensive irrigation, plastic packaging , import of non-regional foods, etc. On the other hand, local products are usually fresher, unprocessed and claimed to be more nutritious.
Sustainable water consumption
Another factor for sustainable living includes water consumption and usage since the one thing that no one can live without is water. Its sustainable consumption has broader implications on humanity. At the moment people are using one quarter of the total fresh drinking water on The Earth in natural circulation. Population and demand of water are in constant increase. On the other hand, lack of safe and pure water causes millions of death cases each year. Currently in the world, a total of 748 million of people do not have access to safe drinking water.
Because of this, we should implement sustainable water consumption through series of simple everyday measurements. These include looking into the efficiency of the domestic appliances and gadgets in our homes and school, careful water consumption in the open and awareness of daily water consumption.
Proper usage of waste and their ecological disposal
With the increase of world population and abundance the consumption of different materials in number, diversity and transport have also increased. It has been estimated that by 2050 humanity may consume 140 billion tons of minerals, mines, fossil fuels and biomass per year( three times more than now) unless the rate of economy growth decreases in reference to the rate of natural resources consumption.
The effective consumption of resources can be achieved by implementation of recycling, materials which can be recycled and reused, locally available materials, materials which use production of resources and durable material as much as possible. Dematerialization is supported by the ideas of industrial ecology, eco-design and usage of ecological labels. Apart from the well-known “reduce, reuse and recycle” the consumers use their purchase power for ethic consumption People are the only creatures on our planet that produce waste. We produce 2.12 billion tons of waste every year. If we load this waste in trucks and drive one after the other, we can circle the planet 24 times. The basic rules of waste management include the so called ‘’three R principle’’- REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE. What we propose is to teach the students the meaning of this principle and to implement simple activities in this respect such as: learn how to decrease the usage of materials that create a great deal of waste, show them how in a creative way they can reuse a waste material and create something new, beautiful, different and useful and teach them about the importance of recycling. What we believe could be beneficial for all on the long run is to provide the teachers and educators with significant amount of materials and resources which they can use in their curriculum and afterschool activities and encourage them to implement the sustainable development goals in their educational process.
The interplay between Sustainable Development Goal X and the acquisition of 21st century skills
The so-called new generation or the ‘’Z’’ generation are young people born after the year 1997. Some of the characteristics about them are the fact they are pragmatical, focused on saving, reducing, mobile literate, preferred sense of originality and usage of the social media networks such as Snapchat and Instagram. The statistics show that 98% of them possess smart phones; 92% have left digital trace; 50% use The Internet more than 10 hours a day, 70% of them watch YouTube more than two hours a day ,40% of them show phone addiction, 80% feel stress when apart with their electronic device. Therefore, facing with these facts before us, we are left with nothing but to adapt to these new changes and use them in a more practical way. Furthermore, by using the tools of the 21 century we should aim to bring the importance or responsible consumption and production closer to our students. Having in mind that our students’ focus of attention is on the new tools the module itself will use them. Via research, power point presentations, case study, video preparation, analysis our students will get to know the key elements of responsible consumption and production and followed by practical implementation.