Concepts and values
Responsible living involves
- the readjustment of present priorities
- the redefining of human relationships
- the transformation of how societies deal with existing economic, social and ecological challenges
- the intensification of the dialogue between science and society.
‘Sustainable development’ is a multi-dimensional concept interpreted in many different ways. The concept includes the following interdependent dimensions:
- satisfying the material and non-material needs of all humans – within present generations, and between present and future generations (intra-generational and inter-generational equity)
- human and economic activity not exceeding the carrying capacities of ecosystems
- the efficient and wise use of both renewable and non-renewable resources
- integration of environmental, economic and social factors to mutually support a fulfilling quality of life for all.
The most commonly used definition of sustainable development is “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (Our Common Future, 1987).
‘Sustainability’ is often used interchangeably with ‘sustainable development’, although the term ‘development’ explicitly implies qualitative improvement.
“The basic purpose of development is to enlarge people's choices. In principle, these choices can be infinite and can change over time. People often value achievements that do not show up at all, or not immediately, in income or growth figures: greater access to knowledge, better nutrition and health services, more secure livelihoods, security against crime and physical violence, satisfying leisure hours, political and cultural freedoms and sense of participation in community activities. The objective of development is to create an enabling environment for people to enjoy long, healthy and creative lives" (Mahbub ul Haq, Founder of the Human Development Report).
Social responsibility is “the responsibility of an organization for the impacts of its decisions and activities on the society and environment, through transparent and ethical behaviour that contributes to sustainable development, health and welfare of society, takes into account the expectations of stakeholders, is in compliance with applicable law and consistent with international norms of behaviour and is integrated throughout the organization and practiced in its relationships" (ISO-SR 26000). Awareness of social responsibility evolves as society’s notions of care and concern, of righteousness and justice expand.
A consumer citizen is an individual who makes choices based on ethical, social,economic and ecological considerations. The consumer citizen actively contributes to the maintenance of just and sustainable development by caring and acting responsibly on family, national and global levels (The Consumer Citizenship Network Teaching and Learning Guidelines, 2005).
Education for responsible living
Education for responsible living provides opportunities for learning about the systems and processes connected to consumption. It involves relearning and reorganizing information in wider contexts. It is contingent on reconsideration of such central questions as the value of material and non-material prosperity, and the significance of service to one’s fellow human. The present situation indicates the need for the further development of analytical, reflective thinking skills in order to decode the extensive and aggressive commercial messages to which individuals around the world are constantly exposed. Five basic skills are essential to learning to be responsible. These are: communication skills, decision making skills, problem solving skills, creativity and change management.
Education for sustainable consumption
“Education for Sustainable Consumption (ESC) aims at providing knowledge, values and skills to enable individuals and social groups to become actors of change towards more sustainable ways of living. The objective is to ensure that the basic needs of the global community are met, quality of life for all is improved, inefficient use of resources and environmental degradation are avoided. ESC is therefore about providing citizens with the appropriate information and knowledge on the environmental and social impacts of their daily choices, as well as workable solutions and alternatives. ESC integrates fundamental rights and freedoms including consumers’ rights, and aims at empowering citizens for them to participate in the public debate and economy in an informed and ethical way.” (‘Here and Now! Education for Sustainable Consumption’, UNEP 2010)
Education for sustainable consumption is an essential part of education for sustainable development.
The core values on which PERL's work is founded are