What is Sustainability?

by Alec Watts

The word sustainability can often be taken many different ways, but at the root of it to me it means to last indefinitely. I have learned that this word has become the keystone in the archway of the future. Currently our world is facing many challenges, we see and feel them every single day. We feel them on a small personal scale and also on a global scale. This beautiful planet we live on has created a delicate balance of all things working together to sustain the symphony of life.

Life itself has been a challenge in recent months. As a globe we have been put in a position to reflect on where we have come from and where we are going. COVID-19 is the pandemic of an eternity, but how can we make this an opportunity to truly understand what we must do to sustain? As we take this time to take a deep dive into our own mental, physical, and  spiritual health we also have the opportunity to reconnect with the natural world and ourselves. These are keys to sustaining.

Reconnecting with our own being is step number one. We must have the intention to understand ourselves before we question the workings of the world. Sustaining our own lives is usually our largest priority anyway. We need a roof over our head, food on the table and money in the bank, but what if we pursued those things from a different lens? A more holistic lens where we took time to journal, meditate and just sit and breathe. It’s amazing what the mind and body are capable of doing, but the breath is the true north. I find time to enjoy our natural world through outdoor activities such as rock climbing. This sport has given me the opportunity to reconnect with myself and my mental and physical strength. It makes me consider my breath as it is all you have when you are alone on wall not knowing what the next move is. As I spend this time outside, I am able to think about the world from a different perspective. I ask questions like; What if we saw sustaining our own lives through a different lens? This lens would be guided by the idea that prosperity comes from minimizing our impact. Our impact on ourselves, others, the planet, and the future. It’s amazing what we don’t know about the food we put into our bodies, the air we breathe, and the water we drink. Imagine a world that put the health of humans at the forefront of “global prosperity” and that is where I believe sustainability will make its greatest impact on individuals.

Sustainability will also play a role in reconnecting with the natural world. Everything is connected. From the fish in the sea to the birds in the sky, to humans and plants alike we all play a role in collective heartbeat of planet earth. It has been damaged and we are seeing the loss of biodiversity causing drastic changes to our environment. By environment I don’t just mean nature. I mean business too; our environment is where we happen to be, and little do we know the true impact we are making. Our world is crying for help…, from natural disasters, ocean acidification, deforestation and lost species, that interconnected system that keeps us all alive…is falling out of balance.

The idea of sustainability has started its own fire with the goal to once again find that balance. Here at Duquesne in the MBA SBP program we are part of that flame. I have had the unbelievable pleasure to be a part of an amazing cohort of tenacious, caring, loving, and determined students who want to be a part of this change to a sustainable world. The magnificent staff has guided our thinking to new levels and places we have never been before to make us truly understand what we are capable of, and we are capable of so much more than we know. I am so thankful for this opportunity to learn the skills I need to purse the biggest challenge we face as a human race. The challenge to sustain life. We must change or systems and our way of thinking. From big to small and young to old we must spread this word and explain it to those who don’t understand. Sustainability is the future and it has only just begun!