As Sustainable Solano continues our work throughout the county, the question we often get is “What does sustainable mean?” We continue our exploration into our mission, our focus, and what it means to be sustainable with our third installation of the conversation: a United Nations perspective.

In 2015 the United Nations published their “Sustainable Development Goals”, a roadmap of 17 goals to focus on for the next 15 years. It was “a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.” It sounded very close to our goal to “promote ecologically sustainable, economically and socially just communities, a world that works for everyone.” 

Perhaps in naming their call to action, they meant the same thing as we did with “sustainable”. But one doesn’t have to guess, this is the United Nations, after all. They defined what they meant by sustainable development as “achieving economic, environmental, and social development that ‘meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.'” What does that look like? Delving deeper, we find that the goals focus on areas such as “climate change, economic inequality, innovation, sustainable consumption, peace and justice, among other priorities. The goals are interconnected – often the key to success on one will involve tackling issues more commonly associated with another.”

Sustainability is not just focused on climate change, not just focused on green energy, not just focused on social justice and peace, not just focused on the environment, not just on equality, not just on waste and sustainable consumption, but the also on the fundamental assertion that these goals are interconnected. In strengthening one area, you strengthen the other. We deeply agree with that, and want to submit another part of the definition: sustainable is a system that is not only ecologically, economically, and socially just, but one that is regenerative and self-renewing generation after generation. We don’t just meet our present needs without compromising future needs, but leave the world better than how we found it, for a next generation that can also hope to do the same. But we don’t have to go to the United Nations to do that. We are already here, where we want to be–in Solano County.