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‘Sustainable Development’ means different things to different people!

A toilet in Nicaragua!

By Carolyn Gibson

In just a few short days our delegation is heading to Brazil for a conference on sustainable development. But what does sustainable development mean? The interesting thing when discussing it is that it means different things for different people.

This past May I had the privilege to travel to Nicaragua where I stayed with a local family and worked on an organic permaculture farm. It was here, immersed in their culture, that I saw and learned what sustainability means to them. For the farming community of about 500 that I lived in the quality of their soil could make or break their food supply. For them sustainable means using farming practices that won’t degrade their soil and allows for a constant cycling of nutrients. How do they achieve this? With the use of something so simple yet genius: a composting toilet.

Toilets waste over 90% of the water taken in. Composting toilets allow for less wasted water and fertile soil as an output. After one makes their deposit you simply add wood chips. This helps with carbon-nitrogen balance. In the tropical areas of the world after the tank is full it takes just 6 months to produce fertile soil. In developing communities these toilets are incredible as the provide soil for family gardens and they provide an easy way of waste management.

As negotiators head to Rio+20 they must remember that “sustainable development” is not a one size fits all concept. Sometimes the answer can be as simple as a toilet.

 Carolyn Gibson
Carolyn Gibson 
Alum, Students on Ice 2010 Arctic Youth Expedition
Carolyn Gibson was a part of Arctic 2010 Expedition. It is this expedition that confirmed her love for the Polar Regions. Carolyn is from Bracebridge, Ontario and is currently studying Environmental Sciences at the University of Guelph. At an early age Carolyn discovered her passion for the environment and has since gone on to be a part of numerous environmental related initiatives. She was a youth delegate for 2010 Youth Freshwater Summit and a home team leader for 2010 Canadian Youth Delegation. She has also carried out numerous initiatives within community in the hopes of inspiring others to make sustainable choices for the future.
In her free time Carolyn loves nothing more than heading out into the back to country to explore all that Mother Nature has to offer. From backing packing, to canoeing to winter camping, Carolyn loves it all.
For Carolyn the delegation means an opportunity for youth to be drivers of change. To say what they feel when it comes to sustainable development and to show the world their vision for the future. Carolyn is excited by all the potential this delegation has and cannot wait to see the impact of this delegation.

1 Comment

  1. Kailash Bhindwar says:

    What an excellent example of Applied Sustainability……!!

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