EWB Resources



At EWB Australia we know that sustainability, in terms of community projects, means working ourselves out of the picture. Our most successful projects are those where we are no longer needed. We strive to achieve long term impact through knowledge sharing and sector building. Our 2020 Strategy demonstrates our commitment to sustainability as we work toward contributing to the UNDP Sustainable Development Goals and a blog entry written by our CEO, Peter Baynard-Smith, talks about EWB’s approach.  


The concept of sustainability dominates the development discourse in the 21st century. With factors like global warming and acknowledgement of limited renewable resources, we would be foolish to ignore these challenges as we move forward. The Brundtland Commission of the United Nations in 1987 defined sustainable development as, “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (10). Broadly we can consider sustainability in terms of three dimensions first defined by the United Nations General Assembly in 2005; economic, social and environmental (11). The intersection of these three dimensions is where sustainable development occurs, communicated here (12). In response to growing pressure for a global sustainable framework the UNDP published the Sustainable Development Goals in January, 2016. These are global goals that are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity (13).


How does sustainability apply to my EWB Challenge design?

For your Challenge project you may want to consider these three factors by asking; what is desirable from a social perspective? What is feasible from a technical perspective? What is viable from a business and environmental perspective? And, what would your design need to include to be fully sustainable beyond your involvement in the EWB Challenge? You may want to consider sustainability for your design opportunity at the personal, community as well as national scale.


How do I find out more?

Sustainability is a tricky concept and you won’t be expected to solve the biggest world challenges during your EWB Challenge project. It is important, as a budding engineer and global citizen, to have a broad understanding of what sustainability means and how it applies to your work. To help you conceptualise and understand these concepts further you could consider referring to:


Additional References:


“A group of bee farmers in Zambia were gathered for a workshop with EWB Australia and UNHCR. The aim of the workshop was to identify opportunities for development. When asked why they don’t have more beehives one farmer said, ‘they’re too expensive!’ A representative probed further to ask why they hadn’t built more affordable beehives themselves. The response came, ‘We don’t want to cut down the trees to make hives because this will lead to deforestation and destroy the bees food source.’ The farmers’ local knowledge and understanding of the eco-system meant that they were unlikely to capitalise on a short-term solution if it were to compromise the sustainability of the eco-system in the long term.”  - Jenny Turner, former EWB Challenge Program Lead and EWB Australia Director of Education and Research, Zambia November 2016