Lesson 12: What should I know about sustainability?

Lesson 12 Chapter 3

Sustainable development

Watch the video or read the explanations down below. Be aware that your knowledge will be tested in the next lesson.

“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.“ (Brundtland Commission, 1987)

To deliver sustainable results you should always think of the longer term impact that you are having. Volunteers should consider the following guidelines in order to deliver sustainable results; 

If you would like to bring certain materials, be sure that you figure out what is available in the host country.

By buying locally you can support local entrepreneurs. When bringing materials along you miss this opportunity. Besides, you can never be sure whether what you bring from home is what the locals really need.

Do you have plans for fundraising for the project? Pay close attention to the fundraising policy of the travel organization.

Think carefully about the advantages and disadvantages of fundraising. An advantage could be that when you have raised money you will have funds available to carry out activities during your volunteer work, that you might otherwise not be able to carry out. A disadvantage could be that it takes a lot of time to raise funds. Another disadvantage could be that you bring expectations at your project that volunteers always bring money.

You SHOULD NOT declare the amount of money raised or give money directly. You don’t want to be seen as a cash cow, locals might take advantage of you.

Think about how your work can continue to be impactful after you leave. For example: if you’ve introduced a certain lesson plan in an educational centre, think about how the locals can continue using it. You might help the local community to develop skills and knowledge to continue with activities you have worked on. 

It is important to realize that your contribution to sustainable development might be small, but if everyone contributes a small part we can contribute to something much bigger. Be aware of what you contribute to, how things will continue when you leave and how you contribute to a greater whole. Pursuing sustainability is a continuing process and not an end state.

Next lesson: Test your knowledge