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The Age of Sustainable Development: The Course and The Book

By: Nehemie

While the environment plays a big role in our life by providing us with basic resources such as water, food, air, and shelter, there are many reasons why people don’t act on its conservation. For example, people might be far in rural areas and lack access to modern alternatives to fuelwood such as natural gas or electricity, hence cutting down the forests nearby. Or they might lack knowledge of the role of those alternatives because no one has explained to them.

On the other hand, they might know and have access to all conservation options and alternatives but simply lack the care, the reason, the motivation, the benefit. They might also be lazy, as many of us are. Not taking action is a combination of culture, habits, knowledge and access.  

But what does poverty means in terms of misuses or degradation of the environment, and how can poor people develop themselves while taking care of the environment they live in? This is like a chicken-egg puzzle because all  natural resources located in poor communities are most likely subject to people’s interference in search for basic needs, legally or illegally. In turn, degraded places are likely to be abandoned by us because we don’t see value in staying there. 

So the question is how to raise our economic, social and technological development in an environmentally sustainable pathway. What comes first: poverty alleviation or environmental conservation? Development or Sustainability? And once one has achieved one of these, how easy or hard is it to achieve the other? What are the challenges and opportunities available out there? 

Last year, I participated in a Coursera’s course: The age of Sustainable Development instructed by Jefferey D. Sachs from Columbia University. It is an enriching course that I’d recommend everyone to attend, regardless their pursuit and endeavors. It is a course that explains, with deep thought and evidence, how possible it is to end poverty- especially extreme poverty- by 2030 and achieve environmental sustainability through supporting each other and innovation and hardworking. 

If you’re looking for explanations and suggestions on the questions I just raised above, please enroll in this course. I have also bought a copy of the book -same title-if you want to go deeper. Email me at to borrow it. And if you still feel reluctant or not sure how to engage in sustainable development, check this Lazy Person’s Guide to Save the World