Sustainability in the Developing World Perspective

Sustainability Across Cultures

How does the rest of the world practice sustainability? Or do they practice it at all?

We often worry about the impact that we have on the environment and strategize ways that we can save the planet, but are we pondering these questions beyond the scope of our communities? We rarely think of what the rest of the world is doing—beyond the border of the state or country we live in. In my experience working and living in different countries in South America, I often come across different cultural particularities and absorb the richness of it all. Recently, while working in Lima, Peru for a renewable energy project development company, I started pondering what the extent of sustainability was beyond the participation of our clients outside of this industry, throughout the rest of the developing world. 

In my last three months living in Lima, Peru, recycling is not part of any conservation and/or preservation movement. In fact, waste management control is an underdeveloped matter in the society here. It is this form of social change and awareness that boosts countries out of the developing phase into a developed one.  Implementing environmental policies is not an easy task, it is one of the most trivial and Gordian milestones for a country undergoing economic growth and development.

Developing countries such as Peru for example, is experiencing an economic boom although it is at a stage where society has yet to adopt environmental consciousness.  Being cognitive about our actions is the most crucial aspect of being green, not only on a personal level but as a society. I can admit that the topic of sustainability is often a topic that is mainly discussed in the developed world, whilst in the developing world it goes often unmentioned. It is perhaps a cultural difference, or a lack of leadership by national leaders—or maybe a combination of both. There is a lack of initiative by public figures to proliferate or promote sustainable practices; therefore it is imperative that environmental awareness start as a grass roots movement—in one’s own home. Philanthropy work in the developing world is often delegated to the preservation of wildlife and conservation of protected lands but hardly found in the development of “green” programs in places that need it most.

In all, I have taken the initiative to raise awareness in my Peruvian household by putting together a compost bin in our yard. Perhaps the neighbors will soon too.