How can we Achieve Sustainable Community Development?
Every community should be able to harmoniously live with nature. This means that communities need to integrate their daily activities with nature with the aim of getting healthier developments in the social, economical and ecological dimensions. This is the concept behind sustainable community development. It seeks to put into place measures that can be used to improve a community’s social, economic, ecological and spiritual standing over time. It is not a short-term practice. Rather, it’s long term and the aim is to continue the process into the future where the next generation will carry on.
This is made possible through sustainability assessment which basically measures the stage at which a community is and where it aims to be in the future. It is more of a measuring stick for the community to determine how sustainable they are. With every question they answer, they get an honest placement of how stable they are as a community. After the assessment is done, sustainable planning then follows to get the community on the right track towards making the desired changes. Sustainability assessment can be carried out individually or in a group.
Both ways can be used to measure the sustainability of the community. Whether done individually or corporately in group sessions, the different answers reflect the broader footing of the community.
During sustainability assessment, the community’s ecological, environmental, social and spiritual states of being are checked. Under ecological factors, coexistence with nature is checked.
- Availability of natural resources is checked as well as their preservation. This includes wildlife and land cover. As a general rule, human activities and lifestyles should enhance the environmental integrity, not bring it down.
- Where the community gets food is equally important. If they source their foods locally or at least regionally they stand stronger. Of course the nature of food matters a lot too. It has to be organic and free of any contaminants.
- Waste management efforts count too and the mode of disposal should be of benefit to the environment.
- Availability of energy and water supply are other factors considered.
Social stability is the first thing to be checked under sustainability assessment.
- How safe is the community?
- Is there trust among the members?
- How effective are the communication channels within the community?
- The education systems too matter a lot as well as the distribution of resources. Is there room for personal growth and learning across all age groups?
- Are there affordable health systems?
Under spiritual growth, freedom to explore the different cultures within is assessed.
- Are shared beliefs and cultures enhanced?
- Does the community enjoy rituals and other celebrations together? Answers to these questions and more serve in giving direction to what needs to be done.
Sustainability planning takes care of the process of change implementation. It includes
- Setting new goals to improve sustainability alongside the actions to be taken
- Changes that need to be done to realize the new goals are put in place.
- Use of reliable sustainability indicators to monitor the changes.
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