What are your thoughts and reaction when hearing about global warming, pollution, poverty, decay in cultural values, loss of natural diversity, declining water resources and increased traffic problems?
You might be part of a large momentary frustrated group thinking “This is just awful news! Somebody should fix this problem!” It will probably only take you a few seconds to conclude who to blame and who should take action; this might be the government, NGO’s, foreign experts, global organizations, the private sector, Western countries or the next generation. Most likely at this point you are also convinced that you do not have any role to play in this regard and that you can not do anything about it. Your conclusion might be that you are both physically prevented and morally not obligated to get involved in this problem. What a relief for you then! Once more you can continue your normal life with a good conscience. This entire line of thoughts may even seem more reasonable if the problem is not happening in your native country, neighborhood or family.
But what if you are wrong on this one – what if it’s all connected? What if your thoughts, words and actions do indeed have an impact on your neighborhood, society, county, culture, environment and the world? What if your actions, or maybe more important lack of actions, are already making a change reaction affecting other people’s lives or the ecosystem? Try to be aware of all your actions for one entire day while considering this question; is your world impact mostly negative or positive? What would happen if you started searching for new ways to increase your positive impact on your surroundings? Based on your personal resources (knowledge, interests, field of study, profession, network, skills, time, locality, consumption etc.) how could you make a more positive contribution to this world?
I am convinced that a new kind of personal environmental and social responsibility is steadily emerging worldwide. Changing the world does start with individual action, which is perfectly described by the late king of pop, Michael Jackson, in his song ‘Man in the Mirror’ from 1988:
I’m Starting With The Man In The Mirror
I’m Asking Him To Change His Ways
And No Message Could Have Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place
Take A Look At Yourself, And Then Make A Change
The best news is that positive individual actions often inspire others to follow – a fantastic knock-on effect seems to have started and turned into a world movement!
More and more people do valuable volunteer work or search for solutions to reduce garbage waste or to travel more responsibly.
More and more companies aim for an environmental friendly production and introduce valuable CSR company policies (Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives).
More and more fields of research and education institutes focus on natural ecosystem and society changes, the goal is to conclude how negative and irreversible changes can be avoided. More and more politicians, NGO’s, organizations, industries and associations are increasingly aiming for sustainable development.
The term sustainable development became a late 20th century buzz word, which over time has been defined in many ways. The most frequently quoted definition of sustainable development is from ‘Our Common Future’, also known as the Brundtland Report from 1987:
“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It contains within it two key concepts:
• the concept of needs, in particular the essential needs of the world’s poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and
• the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment’s ability to meet present and future needs.”
It is actually not that hard to get started and increase you positive world impact:
- Read up on sustainable knowledge, best practice and existing initiatives. You need both general sustainable knowledge and local understanding to act more wisely and achieve a positive society impact. While searching for ways to improve your positive impact on society do remember to focus on practical local solutions that you, or a larger group, can put into action. In other words: refuse to make the fast conclusion “This is just an awful situation! Somebody should fix this problem, but I cannot do anything about it! “.
- Take action! There are so many ways to make a positive impact; become a volunteer, change the company CSR policy, start recycling your garbage, support local business or encourage culture diversity.
- Share your knowledge and practical experience on sustainability with your network! Be open for discussions and input as this might encourage others to act differently or inspire you with new ideas.
- Remember the big picture, but focus on the small steps! Solving the environmental and social problems of the world is an overwhelming goal, but when you focus on having a positive impact on local problems it is more obvious that your actions do indeed count. Always remember your achievements and that your effort is an important part of the worldwide growing sustainable movement.
Think about this: Could your actions become more sustainable and even inspire other people to follow? If so you could be a part of the growing and much needed worldwide sustainable movement.
About writer Majbritt Magnussen
As a Danish expat from 2007 to 2010 and with a MA in Tourism, Majbritt Thomsen (now Magnussen) studied the Bangladeshi tourism industry and interacted with stakeholders.
In the South Asian region Bangladesh is one of the countries with the least arrivals and the lowest revenue earned from the tourism industry. Nevertheless Bangladesh do indeed have interesting history, culture and nature to show and tourism has since the 1990s been a small but rapidly growing sector of the economy.
Valuable sustainable tourism initiatives, projects, organizations, companies, teaching institutes and resource people do already exist nationally, but a long-term positive development depends on the sustainable knowledge, visions and united actions of multiple stakeholders.
Optimistic by the Bangladeshi sustainable tourism potential Majbritt initiated ‘The Views On Tourism Project’, which encourage tourism knowledge-sharing and network at all levels. Uniting the sustainable tourism stakeholders with free of cost online communication platforms has the potential to increase long-term positive initiatives – on individual, grass root, private sector, government and regional level.
This article was first published in the 3ed TRINO Magazine . The magazine is published by Krewkradong Bangladesh. Kewkradong is an activity place for youth. Adventure is the key here. This fantastic initiative is totally non-political, non-violence; non-profitable organization originated in Bangladesh.