Sustainability goals under threat
Recent reports on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) show that many of them, if allowed to continue on their current trajectory, could not just stop but go back on themselves. Increasing poverty rates, inefficient food and energy systems, and especially a catastrophic increase in greenhouse gas emissions have meant that the world is falling short of the SDG standards.
These goals, particularly goal 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) and goal 13 (Climate Action), affect everyone. With a rapidly growing global population, expected to reach 10 billion by 2050, these problems are becoming more pressing by the day. This highlights the pressing need for imaginative new thinking in the built environment.
While there are concerted efforts being made on an individual level, such as reducing meat consumption and using less plastic, it’s in commerce and industry where the really big gains can be made. This means changing the way we build, run and re-design our buildings.
The current industrial model is not sustainable. The onus is on businesses with large buildings and portfolios to build, maintain and run – and on consultancies like Livingstone – to commit to finding solutions for a built environment that will be fit for purpose when that population tops the 10 million mark.
Knowledge is power. Being aware of your current carbon emissions is an essential step towards reducing them. And having the foresight to prepare for the major changes that are bound to come in the way different sectors construct their built environment will enable businesses to save money and start to make a positive contribution towards the SDGs.
Expertise in sustainable food retail, for example, is imperative to the sector’s development. In order to balance the stresses of feeding a growing global population with the added imperative of keeping food production and storage efficient and environmentally friendly, retailers need an in-depth knowledge of the changing technology.
We are working closely with several major supermarket chains, looking beyond the needs of now to the likely requirements of tomorrow. The traditional model of driving to the supermarket to buy groceries is already yielding ground to online food shopping serviced by fleets of delivery vans. Will we still have supermarkets in 10 years time?
It’s questions like this that we have to answer – and the real world implications of the answers we come up with – if we are to meet the challenges of a booming, more urbanised global population. By forecasting the changes in the way people are going to buy food, we can help our clients prepare for major shifts in their industry with maximum efficiency and minimum environmental impact.
By 2050, three quarters of the world’s population will be accommodated in cities. It’s vital that we act now to prevent this drastic proliferation in urban infrastructure from creating an unsustainable volume of carbon emissions. We have the knowhow not just to shelter the growing population but to keep them comfortable in well-designed, energy-efficient buildings. The more we can apply this knowledge now, the sooner we will start to gain ground towards the UN’s SDGs.