The transition to sustainable food systems is one of the most basic dimensions of a sustainable community. On the production/distribution side is the provision and accessibility of nutritious food, avoiding chemical-intensive, soil-depleting farming and processing methods; on the consumption side, cultivating informed and healthy dietary practices, avoiding food waste as well as harmful additives. As to world hunger, this problem is in many ways more of an ethical and political problem, an impact of unsustainable investment and distribution, not technological production.
Mobility is a human need. However, our current transportation systems and habits have become problematic, especially being mostly based on fossil-fuels. Given the huge infrastructural and corporate investments in this sector as well as the popular cult of the automobile and huge advertising expenditures promoting that cult, the ease and externalized costs of air travel and the dominant auto-centered urban community design, the transition to sustainable transportation systems is quite challenging. Nevertheless, the move to alternate, low-carbon mobility systems and habits has begun.
Life requires energy to exist. From the metabolism within plan and animal cells to the complex energy production, distribution and consumption systems within cities and nations, lighting and heating our homes, allowing us to commute to work and fly across the ocean, energy is an essential overall need in its many forms. It is also a source of controversy and conflict, particularly given modern society's deep dependence on fossil fuels, generating the greenhouse gases driving global warming and climate change. The search for renewable systems and strategies toward low-carbon transition have become growing priorities.
Shelter is another basic need, providing safety, warmth and comfort to individuals, families, businesses and institutions, the basic physical foundation unit of communities and society. The transition to sustainable buildings addresses, on the production side, issues of land rights, design and construction, electrical, water, gas and other systems -- their impact on environment, the community and other systems as well as what needs are met or neglected. On the distribution and consumption side are questions about homelessness as well as the size and impacts of buildings and their relationship to the community, both human and ecological.
Next to air, fresh water is our most essential need. It is one of the most rare and precious elements enabling life in this solar system. Yet we too often take this gift for granted -- until we no longer have access. Those who live and struggle in areas suffering desertification, who watch their children die from lack of clean water and sanitation, especially know its value. Today one-sixth of the world's population lack access to clean drinking water; by 2025, scientists estimate that one-third of all humans will face severe and chronic water shortages. As the global population grows, the failure of institutions to effectively manage and fairly distribute this scarce resource will seriously deepen what has already become a global crisis. The UN recognizes March 22 as World Water Day to bring attention to this issue, highlighting action to address this Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 6) to provide clean water for all by 2030.
People get their information about the world from a number of sources, starting with their immediate eyes, ears and first-hand experience of events, followed by the opinions, impressions and sharing of information from family, friends, neighbors and workmates, much of this harvested from a chain of other information sources. We are in turn primed with information, values and interpretive frames from a variety of socializing institutions -- the education system, religious institutions, museums, concerts, clubs, cafes, salons, and other social structures. The other major system providing as well as continuously assaulting our senses with increasingly sophisticated bids and techniques for capturing, packaging, monetizing and marketing our attention is the global media communications industry -- books, magazines, TV, cable, film, and the proliferation of social media innovations and habits emerging and converging through the internet. In turn, a wide range of researchers and sustainability advocates as well as financial investors are exploring the implications of this complex and rapidly evolving system of news and entertainment production and consumption as to the opportunities and obstacles it offers to communities and their future well-being.