Sustainable Living through Youth Empowerment


This essay was published for the President Scientific Journal in 2006. Some pictures are missing during the upload. So sorry about this.
by: Mohammad Reiza
(Environmental Teenage Ambassador of Indonesia)

Environment condition on earth is now under a serious threat if we do not nurture it in appropriate synergistic steps. It is about making our planet as a better place to live in. Sustainable living is the main purpose of these environmental conservation programs by creating other possible and alternative energy sources that last longer. Besides making new innovative environmentally-friendly products, all the people in the world should start “the green action” from themselves.
This is the responsibility of each of us to safe our planet from further serious damages. It is us, today’s human being who will live on earth in the next couple of centuries. The earth is getting older by now and surely in few more centuries to go. Humankind should not endanger themselves by contributing the increase of global warming phenomena. In contrast, people throughout the world should together work out the global environmental problems with the integration of global human empowerment synergy program.

Environmental Ethics, Sustainability Living and the Synergy of Human Empowerment

What is sustainable living?
Sustainable Living is about making smart choices in our daily lives to minimize the environmental impacts and problems caused by our lifestyles. Living sustainably does not mean reducing the quality or scope of our lives- but does require us to look at how we currently do things, to become aware and responsible for the environmental impacts that our choices and actions create, and actively work towards changing our impacts.
Sustainable Living is about all of us using creativity, commitment and innovation to address current problems and prevent future crises. The idea of making our lifestyles ‘sustainable’ means living in a way that enables our society to meet current needs (food, buildings, transport etc) in a way that keeps the earth (the natural environment) in a healthy state for the next generation to come. However sustainable living is very different to our current way of life and needs much change to happen – that’s where you come in!

Taking responsibility
While some problems have arisen from decisions and actions made generations ago, right now, every single person makes hundreds of choices each week that directly affect the quality of air we breathe, the quality of water we drink, the amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere, the amount of natural resources being used, and the type and amount of waste generated. We have enough knowledge, technologies and resources available right now to dramatically reduce our environmental impact and address and prevent many of the current problems…but to make a positive impact, commitment, concern and responsibility are needed.
There are many things we can do to make a difference. Here are just a few ideas: save electricity or use green power (renewable energy), bike, bus, efficient car pool and walk rather than drive, plant trees, avoid waste. If you can’t, recycle and reuse packaging and products, buy environmentally sound products, choose good ‘energy star’ products, use solar energy, develop a personal environmental code of ethics and of course invent and create your own solutions.

Tips for getting started and Ideas
1.    Identify the problem.
2.    Research the problem (use informal sources, institutional sources, scholarly sources and journalistic).
3.    Develop ideas and possible solutions.
4.    Explore your ideas with drawings, models or computer models.
5.    Test and evaluate the environmental and social benefits of your ideas.
6.    Present your design or solution – remember the way it is presented can help sell your ideas.

We encourage you to identify environmental problems that have particular importance for you and your community. For every environmental problem you can see- there are usually hundreds of great solutions to be explored. Here are some ideas:
1.    Energy – Design a strategy for reducing energy demand in the home or at school. Redesign your home or school or create an alternative energy system that uses renewable energy sources or highly advanced technologies.
2.    Transport – Investigate feasible alternatives to reduce dependence on private car travel. Design a carpooling strategy that really works. Or even redesign your suburb or whole city.
3.    Ecotourism – Research and design an environmentally friendly resort or investigate the ecological impacts of current methods of travel.
4.    Food and products – Design farming methods that don’t cause erosion, or depend on chemicals and fertilizers, or require destruction of native bush land. Design a new product (building, clothing, furniture etc) that uses natural or recycled materials. Or design a marketing campaign for the existing natural textiles.
5.    Lifestyle – Reinvent your new environmentally friendly lifestyle and share with your families and friends to make the more aware of the importance of sustainable living through the integral human development as well as teenage empowerment.

All of those things above should be regularly maintained to get the ultimate result of environment preservation. In succeeding the program of environmental campaign, it is highly recommended to involve more children and teenagers as the participants of global environment actions. In most developed country like Indonesia, the emphasis is on young people because they are the key people in the success of environmental sustainability.
This is also encouraged that the growth of environmental Non government organizations (NGO) should be appropriately increased through out the world. The important roles of environmental NGO are required to support and motivate people towards positive activities in regards of global environmental issues. Once they have god relationship with the society, it is even easier to coordinate them to get involved in the activations organized.
Furthermore, the action is starting from us, ourselves. Not everybody else but us right now – no delay. If we are already highly aware of the importance of sustainable living, we will keep ourselves aware of any new environmental issues around us. First, start it from us then we motivate and encourage others to support our actions and activities in accordance to environmental campaign actions.
This is definitely not easy to make people, especially in most developed countries, to get involved in any particular environment- related activity. Yet, they see no importance at all t work on environmental issues. This problem should be well tailored by teaching children and teenagers about environmental imperatives as well as giving short workshop, or sort things that could escalated their awareness of environment.
Time after time, people will see the urgency of environmental conservation after they get bad effects on environmental problems. Most of the time, they are conscious after everything is a bit late to solve. We have to keep this negative mindset away from us-curing than preserving-so that we have ability to predict what kind of possible environmental problems, which are likely to happen in the future, and make deep analysis on how to conserve particular environmental problems.

Human Development Index
Source: UNDP, Human Development Report 2004.
From the data above we can conclude that Indonesia needs to reorganize the country’s human development program to overlap other Asian countries. It is starting from us, the next generation who will be living in another next decades.
In 27 years time, other Asian countries also made significant changes and improvements in their human development program. For example, Vietnam has developed its human resources drastically since 1980s. It indicates that more developing Asian countries build its country very fast. If Indonesia does not work out the human development program, the country will be left behind by Vietnam in a couple of years to go. Meanwhile, Malaysia is in the top of its human development program among other Asian countries.
Indonesia has to boost the program of human empowerment to succeed the human development program. It has to start empowering the teenagers as they will be the future of Indonesia. The emphasis is on youth empowerment as surely they will bring the country into national condition betterment.
China lately is growing very fast in terms of economic growth, catching up the missing links with other countries in the world. This fact should make us more aware of the importance of national human resources quality through the integral human development as well as teenage empowerment.

Education Index
Source: UNDP, Human Development Report 2004.

Through education, government will be obviously able to succeed the nation’s environmental problem through the integral part of teenage empowerment programs throughout the country. The diagram above shows that education in Indonesia is still very poor compared to other Asian countries.
The education level in a country truly will support the success of environmental problem-solving process. The higher the education index, the higher the quality of the environment in a country will be. People with appropriate education will be more aware of the importance of the environmental safety and security.
Somewhat, through education, teachers can inform and persuade the students about environmental imperatives. If students get regular information and understanding, they will indirectly enforced to be more aware of environmental issues. It means, a subject of topic regarding environment perspectives should be well designed to be presented to students.
From this point of view, we can identify that ideas on environmental protection should come up in every education institution to stimulate students to be able to encourage themselves to help the surroundings to work out particular environmental problems with their own initiatives.

Student Performance
(The combined reading, scientific, and mathematical literacy scales—mean score) Source: Unesco.
Country    Reading
Literacy Rate    Mathematical
Literacy Rate    Scientific
Literacy Rate
Indonesia    371    367    393
Argentina    418    388    396
Hong Kong    525    560    541
Korea    525    547    541
Mexico    422    387    422
Thailand    431    432    436

From the table above, we can see that student performance in Indonesia compared to student performance in other countries in the world is very poor. The Indonesian government should take steps for the improvement of this condition, so that we can catch up and overlap other countries, at least Asian countries.
In reading literacy, mathematical literacy and scientific literacy, Indonesia is left far behind by Thailand-same country in Southeast Asian region. It means that the Indonesian government should be able to develop the quality of the education system as well as the teaching methodology to increase the Indonesian performance rate.
The government of Indonesia should increase the reading literacy rate throughout the country as reading literacy is very important for people, especially children and teenagers to be able to read all environment-related reading materials or sources. From reading, people will get more knowledge and information towards environment, and then they will be able to sum up the ideas and the contents with innovative solution.
Reading will enrich them and they will be able to get involve in brainstorming sessions with other people to give brand new ideas and innovations. While mathematical literacy will give them numerical ability for environment-related calculation. Scientific literacy is very crucial for people as it will enrich them with all environment-related science and enable them to come up with scientific environment ideas to be discussed with other people to give solutions for some environmental problems in Indonesia.
Technology: Diffusion and Creation
Source: UNDP, Human Development Report 2004.
Country    Internet Users (per 1,000 people, 2002)    Researchers in R&D (per million people, 1990-2001)
China    46.0    584
Indonesia    37.7    130
Malaysia    319.7    160
Philippines    44.0    156
Thailand    77.6    74
Vietnam    18.5    274

The table above gives us information on the number of Internet users per one thousand people and the number of researchers in research and development per million people. Compared to Vietnam, the number of internet users in Indonesia is still small, while, the number of researchers in Indonesia is too small compared to Vietnam with their population.
The more people using the internet, the more people get new knowledge. In the beginning information era, information goes very fast and vivid. For this reason, the government of Indonesia must encourage the people to use the Internet for scientific matters as well as new knowledge search in regard of environment-related issues.
With higher number of population, Indonesia should be able to create much more researchers than Vietnam did. Vast amount of researchers in R&D specifically on environment development will definitely help the government of Indonesia to improve the country’s environment quality as to whether environmental researchers will look for innovative solutions for some environmental problems faced by the country.
Furthermore, Indonesian government should maintain the curiosity and capability of the people to use the Internet connection for the use of environment development and protection; as well as to get involved in research programs with senior researchers to find scientific solutions for some environment problems in Indonesia. Governmental campaign might work and has to be mushroomed throughout Indonesia to get great result from the program.
The Greenhouse Effect

The greenhouse effect is the rise in temperature that the Earth experiences because certain gases in the atmosphere (water vapor, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane, for example) trap energy from the sun. Without these gases, heat would escape back into space and Earth’s average temperature would be about 60ºF colder. Because of how they warm our world, these gases are referred to as greenhouse gases.
Have you ever seen a greenhouse? Most greenhouses look like a small glass house. Greenhouses are used to grow plants, especially in the winter. Greenhouses work by trapping heat from the sun. The glass panels of the greenhouse let in light but keep heat from escaping. This causes the greenhouse to heat up, much like the inside of a car parked in sunlight, and keeps the plants warm enough to live in the winter.
The Earth’s atmosphere is all around us. It is the air that we breathe. Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere behave much like the glass panes in a greenhouse. Sunlight enters the Earth’s atmosphere, passing through the blanket of greenhouse gases. As it reaches the Earth’s surface, land, water, and biosphere absorb the sunlight’s energy. Once absorbed, this energy is sent back into the atmosphere. Some of the energy passes back into space, but much of it remains trapped in the atmosphere by the greenhouse gases, causing our world to heat up.
The greenhouse effect is important. Without the greenhouse effect, the Earth would not be warm enough for humans to live. But if the greenhouse effect becomes stronger, it could make the Earth warmer than usual. Even a little extra warming may cause problems for humans, plants, and animals.

Environment and Population in Globalization
Environmental problems are an example of international interdependence and often create collective goods problems for the states involved. The large numbers of actors involved in global environmental problems make them more difficult to solve. To resolve such collective goods problems, states have used international regimes and IOs, and have in some cases extended state sovereignty (notably over territorial waters) to make management a national rather than an international matter.
International efforts to solve environmental problems aim to bring about sustainable economic development. This was the theme of the 1992 UN Earth Summit. Management of environmental issues is complicated by the large numbers of actors involved, which make collective goods problems hard to resolve (individuals may be more tempted to free-ride). The 1992 Earth Summit (UN Conference on Environment and Development) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil was the largest gathering of state leaders in history.
Global warming results from burning fossil fuels – the basis of industrial economies today. The industrialized states are much more responsible for the problem than are third world states. Solutions are difficult to reach because costs are substantial and dangers are somewhat distant and uncertain.
Damage to the earth’s ozone layer results from the use of specific chemicals, which are now being phased out under international agreements. Unlike global warming, the costs of solutions are much lower and the problem is better understood.
Many species are threatened with extinction due to loss of habitats such as rain forests. An international treaty on biodiversity and an agreement on forests aim to reduce the destruction of local ecosystems, with costs spread among states.
Pollution from industrialization caused great environmental damage in the Soviet Union, contributing to the stagnation and collapse of the Soviet economy – an unsustainable path. Many environmental problems remain in post-Soviet states, such as this heavily polluting nickel plant in Siberia. Today’s poor countries will have to industrialize along cleaner lines to realize sustainable development.
The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) establishes an ocean regime that puts most commercial fisheries and offshore oil under control of states as territorial waters. The United States signed the treaty after a decade’s delay.
Pollution – including acid rain, water and air pollution, and toxic and nuclear waste – tends to be more localized than global and has been addressed mainly through unilateral, bilateral, and regional measures rather than global ones.
The economies of the industrialized West depend on fossil fuels. Overall, these economies import energy resources, mostly oil, whereas the other world regions export them. Oil prices rose dramatically in the 1970s but declined in the 1980s as the world economy adjusted by increasing supply and reducing demand. Prices spiked again around 1991 and have been high since 2000. Such fluctuations undermine world economic stability.
International treaties have been much more successful at addressing ozone depletion than global warming, mostly because the costs of the latter are much higher and the benefits further in the future. A 1997 conference in Kyoto, Japan, set goals for industrialized countries to reduce their output of carbon dioxide and related gases modestly over the next decade, but the goals are not being met. If global warming melts polar ice caps in the coming decades, sea levels could rise and devastate many cities. This crack in the Antarctic ice shelf in 1997, and mounting evidence since, shows that this process is already underway.
Some environmentalists criticize the World Bank and other international institutions promoting economic development in poor countries for interfering destructively in local ecosystems such as rain forests. The green revolution increased yields but shifted patterns of agriculture in complex ways, such as by increasing pesticide and fertilizer runoff. Now genetically engineered crops promise further increases in agricultural productivity – more food on the table – but with environmental consequences that are not fully understood. This corporate president holds a genetically modified seedling, 2001.


Sustainable Living. 2003. Sustainability Living Program in Australia. <;. Accessed May 2003.
United States Environmental Protection Agency. 2006. Global Warming Kids Site. <;. Accessed January 2006.
Wenas, Andre Vincent. 2005. International Relations presentation slides. President University, December.

About Mohammad Reiza

I first started blogging on wordpress in November 2006 that you can find at and later in January 2007 I added another blog at and I just recently added another blog in May 2013 at

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