Op-Ed: If we’re not sustainable, we’re not viable
In Puerto Rico we have a long way to go to become a sustainable island, but the reality of what we are living on a daily basis is urging that we hurry.
Sustainability is not a whim. Sustainability is synonymous with equality, and equality always means economic growth. At this point we can all agree that we have to take control of the process of becoming a sustainable community and this fundamental task cannot be delegated to the government.
Governments can facilitate (or hinder) the process, but this task of transformation is ours. It’s up to all of us. The business sector, communities, community-based organizations, industrial and educational sectors… we all have to embrace this goal, or soon we will not be viable as a society. It’s as simple as that.
We’re facing the evidence that we are running out of time: an epidemic of coronavirus, 400 million people in the world without access to basic health services, and 1.6 billion who live in unsuitable environments with fragile health services and in precariousness (to see this we don’t have to go further than southern Puerto Rico).
Inequality not only endangers the economic growth of any country but creates a huge obstacle in eradicating poverty. And that problem is not only from India, Haiti or Honduras; it’s very much our problem, here in Puerto Rico.
When we talk about sustainable development, we talk about guaranteeing a healthy life for our people and promoting a climate of continuous development. A healthy population, both mentally and physically, consistently achieves a better level of progress and that impacts us all as a population.
The “Health in the Americas 2017 Report,” presented by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) during a conference in Washington, indicates that in the Americas, only Cuba, the United States, Canada, Costa Rica and Uruguay followed very closely by Panama, managed to comply with wellness and health recommendations.
Without ignoring all the problems that afflict Puerto Rico, when will we take on the collective task of elevating Puerto Rico to a state of sustainability and health? Every country in the world has challenges (let’s not look beyond Cuba), and yet many have achieved levels of sustainability that we view as almost impossible to achieve for ourselves.
Remember that sustainability in development is nothing more than meeting our needs today without compromising the resources of future generations, as is the case today. It’s precisely the excesses in mortgaging the sustainable future of future generations that has fueled the mobilizations of Millennials and even younger people around the globe and the emergence of a figure like that of Greta Thunberg, whose main message is precisely that: those responsible for making these decisions worldwide are not taking into account what the younger generations will inherit.
In Puerto Rico we are already late in entering this world movement and time is running out. This urgent goal is not achieved in the absence of problems. It is achieved in the midst of problems to precisely overcome them.