Essay Title

United by the Same Concern

In his encyclical ‘Laudato Si’, Pope Francis wrote, “Our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us”. Throughout the encyclical, the Holy Father stresses the importance of the Earth towards every one of us and our responsibilities in protecting and nurturing it. Indeed, as far as science is concerned, at the moment, the Earth is the only planet that can sustain life in the universe, and yet, we are still destroying it by our irresponsible actions. But a glimmer of hope remains. Many governments are taking initiatives to protect and safeguard the environment and nature, most notably, the United Nations. In 2015, all member states of the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which at its heart are the 17 Sustainable Goals (SDGs), a blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet. These SDGs have played an essential role in protecting the environment. Therefore, the purpose of this essay is to discuss the notable SDGs which are critical towards the environment and their effects towards the environment.


The ninth SDG set out by the United Nations, industry, innovation and infrastructure is an essential form of sustainability towards the environment and people. Proper industrial sectors and infrastructure are crucial to developing a systematic society and the environment. For example, in some urbanised areas worldwide, the idea of a forest city has been keenly developed. These types of infrastructure incorporate elements of the environment to create a sustainable urban environment in which both men and nature may thrive in harmony. According to a report by the World Resources Institute, Urban trees and forests provide shade and cool the air through evapotranspiration, through which trees pull water from the soil and release it through their leaves into the air, which in turn reduces the risk of heat-related illness and makes cities more comfortable. The report continues, stating that in Toronto, as part of an effort to consider forests as essential infrastructure in the city, urban planners mapped the greater metropolitan region’s forest canopy cover and measured other metrics, including surface temperatures. The results were striking: Surface temperatures were below average in areas with high forest canopy cover, often more significant than 70 per cent. Owing to this fact, the vegetation and flora were able to lower air pollution in the forest cities. Thus, it is evident that this SDG set out by the UN is essential to attain a sustainable society because infrastructure such as forest cities can be a vital tool in promoting an ecological community in this fast-urbanising world.  


When visiting the state of Pahang in Malaysia, I went to the island of Pangkor. The island has been hailed as a place of beauty and serenity owing to the abundance of flora and fauna, especially for its aquatic life, mainly its coral reefs. My hopes were high, and I was curious to see this beautiful paradise well-praised in modern times and throughout historical antiquity.  However, when I arrived on the island, I was dismayed at what I saw happening there. Garbage littered everywhere, dead corals, a lack of proper guidelines for handling flora and fauna, and so on, greatly marred the beauty of that once earthly paradise. These transgressions caused significant damage to the island not only ecologically but also economically, especially to the tourism and fishery industry. Thus, to prevent this, the 14th and 15th SDGs of the UN highlight the importance of life below water and on land. They are as essential as all life on earth because the flora and fauna contribute to a balanced ecosystem. Indeed, one of the most critical forms of fauna on Pangkor Island is the Mangrove trees, which provide natural infrastructure to help protect nearby populated areas by reducing erosion and absorbing storm surge impacts during extreme weather events such as hurricanes. These trees also serve as breeding and nursery grounds for many wildlife species, including fishes, crustaceans and mollusc populations, which significantly contribute to the island’s economy due to the expansive fishery industry on the island. Therefore, to maintain this status quo, the UN has outlined these two SDGs to uphold and protect life on land and below water, essential to a sustainable and balanced environment and stable economies.


In conclusion, these SDGs set out by the UN have only one goal: to unite all men, regardless of creed and colour, to protect the earth because we are all stewards who have been given charge over this green earth. We are born on this planet, and we shall leave this planet. The world is dying, and we are all responsible for protecting and guarding it. In the words of Pope John Paul II, ‘The earth will not continue to offer its harvest except with faithful stewardship.’’ Therefore, united by the same concern for this earthly home, we must rise to protect and safeguard this planet.


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