Sustainability is defined as meeting “the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” (Brundtland Commission, 1987). The Sustainable development goals have embedded this concept into our global targets, ensuring that as we work towards the SDGS we do so in a way that takes future generations into account.
Environmental sustainability, while not always at the forefront of programming to end child marriage, plays a large underlying role. Environmental change and the impacts of climate change create circumstances that can perpetuate child marriage. Flooding in Bangladesh, drought in Mozambique, – these natural disasters have played a role in household insecurity and pushed parents to marry girls at young ages. (Girls not Brides, How is Climate Change Driving Child Marriage?) While evidence on the link between climate change and child marriage is still emerging, it is clear that environmental change exacerbates insecurity and poverty, circumstances that profoundly affect women and girls.
As development practitioners and educators, what can we do? Bringing the links of environmental sustainability into our work is a first step in ensuring we take care of our environment. Education can play an important role in promoting awareness and action amongst individuals to be better stewards of the planet. Environmental education is learning “about the environment, for the environment, and in the environment”. It develops active knowledge of the interaction between Earth, humans and natural systems, whether positive or negative (Acting Today, Shaping Tomorrow, 4). Such educational experiences can create better understanding and care for our planet. We will be exploring the role of environmental education further at our webinar on November 30.
Do you feel a connection with environmental change to the experience of women and girls in your country?
What ways is your organisation contributing to sustainability?
I look forward to hearing your thoughts!
Girls not Brides (June 2017). How is Climate Change Driving Child Marriage? Retrieved from https://www.girlsnotbrides.org/hidden-connections-climate-change-child-marriage-bangladesh/.
Ontario Ministry of Education (2009). Acting Today, Shaping Tomorrow. Retrieved from http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/teachers/enviroed/ShapeTomorrow.pdf.
United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (April 2007). Framing Sustainable Development: The Brundtland Report 20 years on. Retrieved from http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/csd/csd15/media/backgrounder_brundtland.pdf.