Jessica Travis
Director, Sustainability and Community Relations

Why is sustainability important to an historic urban park? San Diego is a biodiverse hotspot, yet reducing Balboa Park's footprint goes beyond environmental stewardship--sustaining our resources sustains our heritage and helps to ensure our world-class institutions thrive and visitors enjoy these cultural gems for the next 100 years.

What do you see as a driving force in cultural organizations? The greatest impacts of sustainability happen when it gets personal. For Balboa Park’s arts and cultural organizations, that’s when projects improve visitor enjoyment while preserving artifacts, like with LED gallery lighting and microclimates through improved energy management systems. Top it off with staff engagement in LEED® certifications and community engagement in educational programs and you start to see there’s no one driving force behind what we do-- it’s more of a web.

In New York City this September, a momentous event occurred. One hundred and ninety three nations came to a historic consensus on a path forward for the planet and its peoples. For the first time in history, there was unanimous agreement that the best way forward for the world was to merge environmental sustainability efforts with initiatives to improve social equality and economic development.

Shared burden

This recognition—that our environment, societies and economies are deeply interwoven—is at the heart of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. That these “Global Goals” are just that, global, is the other crucial element of the Sustainable Development agenda. In our modern, interconnected world, our impact is no longer just felt locally or regionally. We are a global community, with a common interest in a better, sustainable future for all.

For the first time, we have a global development agenda that outlines that common interest both for developed and developing countries. While developed countries may focus more on objectives such as Goal 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) and developing countries on, say, eliminating poverty (Goal 1), we are now working toward a truly universal ambition.

Power of one

These goals have the ability to unite us as a planet. But if the aim of changing the world can seem daunting, we can’t forget that it is individual action that moves us toward our goals. We should never underestimate the collective power of individual choices.

All of us are able to make our lives, and the world, more sustainable. One-third of all food produced is lost or wasted each year. How many resources—land, water, energy—could we save if we were more conscious of our food production and consumption patterns?

A global switch to efficient lighting would result in emissions reductions of over 580 million tonnes of CO2 annually (equivalent to emissions from 138 coal-fired power plants), helping to combat the effects of climate change. How many lights in our homes can we replace with energy efficient bulbs? The Plastic Disclosure Project has shown that the overall natural capital cost of plastic use in the consumer goods sector each year is US$75 billion. Where can we reduce, reuse and recycle plastic products to limit the impact on the environment?

A sustainable future starts with each of us. The Global Goals mean that we can all play a part, coming together as a global community to make the world more sustainable and equitable for all.