Knowledge is the key renewable resource for sustainability

16, February

The pandemic paralyzed the world. Almost a year ago, we were all able to observe how nature returned to occupy ...

The pandemic paralyzed the world. Almost a year ago, we were all able to observe how nature returned to occupy places invaded by Man. The confinements invited to a deep reflection that seems to have been left behind. Are we going to guarantee the maintenance of renewable resources? In what way?
By Martin Padulla for staffingamericalatina

Evidently we are having a hard time. The blows we are experiencing as a planet are getting louder and louder. However, at times, everything seems to want to return to the old abnormality.
The pandemic has exacerbated uncertainty, inequality and precariousness. In many countries, wonderful old solutions to urgent new problems are being proclaimed.
Populisms, arrogating to themselves the voice of a non-existent, labile and politically constructed category such as “the people”, impoverish and exclude many citizens. This collective subject that does not exist, ignores each of the citizens who every day want to develop in an environment that seems to deny that education is the engine of social change. This mythical construction feeds a sacralized account of politics that does not allow us to approach the 21st century and its needs of global coexistence with care for the planet we inhabit.
This care for the planet obviously includes us. In Spanish “desarrollo sustentable” sustainable development refers to the process that seeks to preserve, conserve and protect natural resources for the benefit of present and future generations. It does not take into account social, political and cultural needs, dimensions that are included in the definition of “desarrollo sostenible“, human development.
With a view to 2050, UNESCO recently stated that “knowledge and learning are the greatest renewable resources available to humankind to respond to challenges and invent alternatives”.
It would seem that the awareness that this crisis involving 8 billion people is solved by people is evolving very slowly. When we look at the planet, we believe that this moment of technological and social disruption is going to happen. That those overcoming ideas are going to be developed and implemented. The question would be: Are we addressing the problem in its entirety? Does the question of diversity and sustainability include all its complexity?
There are some premises that have a large consensus that are worth reviewing in order to analyze whether we are looking at all sides of the prism.
We have reached significant agreement on the imperative need to ensure the maintenance of renewable resources. The sun, the wind, the oceans, biomass provide sustainable alternative sources of energy. There is a widespread belief that the planet can be powered by this energy. Perhaps a deeper analysis leads us to think that what really moves the planet is human knowledge, the ability to learn to unlearn in order to relearn, the certain possibility to innovate, to evolve faster, to achieve disruption.
The concern for protecting endangered species is global, to a greater or lesser extent, we can all recognize this scourge. Regulatory frameworks are already in place in most countries to penalize those who are unable to contribute to this goal. Perhaps a less superficial analysis will lead us to visualize that education and work as we knew them are tending to extinction. Technological development, population aging and new lifestyles, accelerated by the global COVID phenomenon, show that diversity must include education and work. Sustainability depends on respect for and promotion of cultural, biological (biodiversity), racial, sexual, religious, functional diversity, as well as diverse forms of knowledge acquisition throughout life and diverse forms of work over a longer period of physical and cognitive fulfillment. These two dimensions need to be included in normative frameworks. A new social contract for the 21st century must guarantee sustainability in this broad sense that includes the possibility of developing in diverse ways. It is this diversity that guarantees the others and together with sustainability.
The United Nations has established the Sustainable Development Goals. Goal 4 is Quality Education and Goal 8 is Decent Work and Economic Growth. The other 15 goals are directly related to the interaction between education and work, with a connection that is currently deficient and requires innovation. We need to rethink these systems, embrace the possibilities that technology gives us, make them flexible and fluid.
If the pandemic forces us to accelerate the profound changes that we must implement in both dimensions, the possibility of sustainable development for the region will be certain. If we cling to obsolete concepts, the possibility of falling into the trap of the old abnormality will be real and the consequences for the next generations will be very serious.
All social actors must be guarantors of the most valuable renewable resources for the transformation of our region. The construction of our post-pandemic life is now.