How do I localise sustainability?

3 Minutes
Championing community-led efforts.

In the wake of global challenges, from climate change to socio-economic disparities, the call for sustainable development has never been more pressing. Yet, as the world grapples with these macro challenges, a transformative shift is emerging at the grassroots. Communities worldwide are taking the reins, localising sustainability efforts to create a resilient and prosperous future.

This article explores this paradigm shift, drawing insights from recent research and global examples.

Sustainable Community Development: Bridging Global Goals and Local Realities

The United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a global roadmap for sustainability. However, the real challenge lies in localising these goals, making them relevant and actionable at the community level(1).

In Canada, over 1,000 sustainable community plans (SCPs) have been developed, aiming to localise the SDGs. Yet, a gap exists between planning and implementation. By integrating market-based instruments (MBIs) with traditional policy tools, communities can diversify revenue generation, ensuring these plans come to fruition (1).

Revitalising Local Cultures: The Role of Service Industries

Local cultures, with their rich tapestry of traditions and practices, offer unique opportunities for sustainable development. By pivoting from traditional craftsmanship to service industries, communities can harness their cultural assets for sustainable growth(2).

Taiwan's indigenous communities are leveraging their unique cultures to drive sustainable development in their service industries. By applying design concepts to these industries, they are creating systematic solutions that not only preserve their traditions but also drive economic growth(2).

Education as a Catalyst for Community Sustainability

Education plays a pivotal role in shaping the future. By integrating SDG education into curricula, communities can ensure that the next generation is equipped with the knowledge and skills to drive sustainable development (3).

In rural Japan, university students are gaining hands-on experience in sustainability through interactive lectures and fieldwork. This immersive approach deepens their understanding of community sustainability, empowering them to become change-makers in their communities3.

Rural Tourism: Balancing Economic Growth and Sustainability

Rural tourism, once a niche sector, has now become a significant driver of economic growth in many regions. However, its success hinges on balancing economic imperatives with sustainability goals(4).

In Spain, the boom in rural tourism is being harnessed for sustainable development. By focusing on destination image and tourist loyalty, communities are ensuring that tourism not only drives economic growth but also promotes the sustainable development of host areas (4).

Stakeholders: The Cornerstones of Localised Sustainability

The journey towards localised sustainability is a collaborative endeavour. From governments and businesses to civil society and individuals, every stakeholder plays a crucial role.

New Zealand's effective management of the pandemic showcased the power of collaboration. The government's swift response, combined with community adherence to guidelines, highlighted the importance of synergy in crisis management. This collaborative spirit is equally vital as communities pivot towards sustainability goals.

Local Partnerships: The Bedrock of Sustainable Initiatives

Local sustainability often thrives on partnerships. Collaborative efforts between local businesses, NGOs, and community groups can amplify the impact of sustainability initiatives.

In several African countries, partnerships between local farmers and agri-tech startups have led to the adoption of sustainable farming practices. These collaborations leverage technology to provide farmers with real-time data on weather patterns, soil health, and market prices, enabling them to make informed decisions that boost yields while conserving resources(1).

Cultural Integration: Rooting Sustainability in Local Traditions

For sustainability efforts to be truly effective at the local level, they must resonate with the cultural and traditional values of the community. Integrating sustainability into local traditions ensures its acceptance and longevity.

Indigenous communities in parts of South America have integrated forest conservation efforts with their ancestral traditions. By viewing the forest as a sacred entity, these communities have been able to protect vast tracts of land from deforestation and degradation (2).


The journey towards a sustainable future is deeply rooted in local actions and community-driven initiatives. As we've seen, from Canada's efforts to localise the SDGs to Taiwan's indigenous communities leveraging their unique cultures for sustainable growth, the power of localisation cannot be understated. The success stories of rural tourism in Spain and educational initiatives in Japan further underscore the potential of community-led sustainability efforts. Moreover, the collaborative spirit exemplified by New Zealand during the pandemic and the partnerships formed in African countries between farmers and agri-tech startups highlight the importance of collective action and adaptability.

As we face mounting global challenges, it becomes evident that the solutions often emerge from the grassroots. Embracing local traditions, fostering partnerships, and integrating global sustainability goals into local realities are pivotal steps in our journey towards a resilient and sustainable future. As we move forward, championing these community-led efforts will be crucial in ensuring that the global vision of sustainability is realised at every local corner of our world.


  • Rigler, G., Dokou, Z., Khadim, F., et al. (2022). Citizen Science and the Sustainable Development Goals: Building Social and Technical Capacity through Data Collection in the Upper Blue Nile Basin, Ethiopia. Sustainability, 14(6), 3647. (1)
  • Abdulai, A. (2022). A New Green Revolution (GR) or Neoliberal Entrenchment in Agri-food Systems? Exploring Narratives Around Digital Agriculture (DA), Food Systems, and Development in Sub-Sahara Africa. Journal of Development Studies (2). 
  • Authors not specified. Toward Achieving Local Sustainable Development. Urban Science, 6(1), 24. (3)
  • Authors not specified. Sustainable Development in Local Culture Industries. Sustainability, 14(6), 3404. (4) 
  • Authors not specified. Students’ Learning on Sustainable Development Goals. Sustainability, 14(14), 8678. (5)
  • Authors not specified. Sustainable Development and Consumer Behavior in Rural Tourism. Sustainability, 13(9), 4763.(6) 
Mojo delivers a number of unique benefits for any organisation that cares about its employees.
These include:
<li>Improved employee motivation, wellbeing and resilience</li>
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<li>The Human Energy Transition<br>
(from Extrinsic to Intrinsic motivation)</li>

Mojo is our online employee motivation platform that drives productivity, wellbeing and resilience

Mojo delivers a number of unique benefits for any organisation that cares about its employees. These include:
  • Improved employee motivation, wellbeing and resilience
  • Sustainable productivity growth
  • Talent attraction & retention
  • Better customer service
  • The Human Energy Transition
    (from Extrinsic to Intrinsic motivation)

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