What is sustainable development and sustainable lifestyle? How can young people contribute to it?

The term “sustainable development” was defined in the report Our Common Future (or the Brundtland Report), published by United Nations in 1987. According to the report, sustainable development is the development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations. With this report, the environmental issues were, for the first time, raised to a level of political agenda. Since then, development and environment have been observed concerning each other. Fast forward to 2015, United Nations Member States adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which contains 17 Sustainable Development Goals. All the Development Goals are interconnected and call for global partnership and action to improve the quality of human life while preserving the environment and dealing with climate change. Each goal contains targets and indicators, so each is measurable and achievable.


Even though the 17 Sustainable Development Goals aim to make positive global changes, the world is comprised of individuals. Each individual leaves a mark, or a positive of negative footprint on the planet, by unintentional or intentional action. Both positive and negative environmental footprints can be calculated through online calculators. Most of the time, it is a matter of conscious choice to act and preserve the environment. The choices that we make every day can leave a positive or negative mark, often regardless of the public policies. Therefore, if one actively contributes to preserving the environment and natural resources, it adds to sustainable development in the long term and for future generations.


What can a young individual do to contribute to a sustainable environment? Well, for starters, he or she can make sustainable lifestyle choices:


  • Sustainable water usage – remember that in the future, running water might become luxury
  • Growing or supporting local organic foods – buying at the local food market
  • Minimizing the food waste – not purchasing large quantities of food that might expire unused
  • Using sustainable materials – locally sourced materials or recycled materials are usually used by local companies
  • Minimizing the usage of plastic in everyday life – omitting the plastic bottles and bags
  • Recycling – adequate sorting of waste in each household, especially electronic waste
  • Using sustainable transport – preferably electric public transport or cars, carpooling
  • Aim to produce as less as possible waste by choosing higher quality over higher quantity
  • Creating own healthy environment – enjoying activities in nature and learning to appreciate the nature
  • Cherishing local culture and supporting crafts that mostly produce less waste and are based on local materials and products


The next step is taking active participation in society in the form of active citizenship as an individual. Realizing that each individual has value voice and can make a choice to participate in their local community actively is an important step for young people to contribute to a more inclusive society and sustainable development.


Nonetheless, no society is isolated in the age of globalization. Therefore, we all are global citizens and can positively contribute to sustainable development. According to Sustainable Goal 4: Insuring Inclusive and Quality Education for All and Promote Life Long Learning, global citizenship is one of the targets to be reached. Educating young people through formal and non-formal education contributes to understanding global citizenship and sustainable development and, in the long-term creating a sense of individual responsibility within local and global society.

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Project Number: 2021-1-ES02-KA220-YOU-000028702