Frequently asked questions about Sustainability World

What will Sustainability World offer ?

Sustainability World (SW) will provide access to reliable information on a wide range of topics relevant to Sustainability and related urgent issues that face the Planet today. It will provide opportunities for self-learning, dialogue and practical action on sustainability to young people of all ages, students, teachers and anyone interested in sustainability regardless of age and background.

Users will be able to improve and test their knowledge on topics they select, discuss issues, share information and undertake practical actions to resolve actual sustainability problems. Through gamification, users will be able to compete with friends and gain recognition within the ‘SW Community’. There will be games, stories, and tools for teachers.

Which Topics will be covered, and how ?

Topics covered will include, for example: sustainability principles and challenges; ecosystems’ elements and functions; climate change; planetary boundaries and stewardship; rights and responsibilities; human and societal needs such as food and agriculture, water, energy, health; finance and economic systems; and underlying issues such as inequality and values.

SW will will provide concise syntheses of topic with links to other materials. It will highlight underlying causes, obstacles and linkages among issues as well as their cultural and ethical dimensions. It will present different opinions and the pros and cons of various proposals for ways forward in particular sectors while also providing information on specific, practical actions that individuals, communities and businesses can take to help build a sustainable future.

How will the 'SW' community function ?
Anyone who wants to learn, act and dialogue on sustainability, and who signs up to the basic ‘SW’ principles, will be able to join as a participant, access all the information on the SW site, comment on and contribute to the development of the information presented, describe and pose questions about sustainability-related actions taken or planned, and take quizzes to test their understanding. Participants may also propose their services as moderators or review panel members.
Who will build and maintain information on the SW Portal ? How will quality be assured ?

A broad-based project steering committee will oversee a participative, moderated process. Young volunteers will be invited to research existing materials and produce initial content material with the support and guidance of project supervisors and staff. Topic review panels of subject specialists will review and validate material before publication. The content material will be regularly up-dated and expanded based on comments/suggestions from members of the SW Community. Those suggestions will be examined by project staff, and the relevant review panel approve any revisions or additions to the published text.

Content published will be at the discretion of a General Editorial Board and the specialist Review Panels for particular topics. The members of the Editorial Board and topic-related Review Panels will be required to demonstrate that they have no direct or indirect connections with any entity that could have a financial interest in a particular perspective on the topic(s) of concern.

Why are EFF and its partners developing SW ?

We believe that it is through the collective efforts of informed and motivated individuals – especially young people – that the long-lasting well-being of everyone, everywhere, can be assured. We therefore want to enable young people, students, teachers and anyone interested in sustainability to learn, dialogue and act to help build a sustainable future. We want to empower them to choose their own lifestyles and the demands they wish to make of their political and business leaders.

We know that the world is facing important challenges (climate change, pollution, hunger, disease, unacceptable levels of inequality and unemployment, intolerance, and many more) and that, in 2015, governments adopted ambitious targets in relation to ‘sustainable development’ and climate action. But we know that the hardest part is now in front of us, namely to change our ways in order to achieve those targets for the well-being of everyone, ‘leaving no one behind’.

 

How will SW differ from other sites ? What’s the added value ?

Many websites already propose masses of information on ‘sustainable development’ and its various aspects, and on global challenges more generally. But it is difficult for most young people (and others) find their way into and through it all, and to judge the reliability of the many different sources. And it is difficult for them to get the ‘big picture’, understand the linkages among the various issues, assess the pros and cons of the disparate ‘solutions’ proposed and, therefore, to be able to develop an informed opinion and take appropriate action.

SW will provide a ‘way into’ this information with concise syntheses highlighting the principal issues in relation to a wide range of topics and links to other materials for more detail. It will explain the linkages among different topics, the underlying causes of problems, and the ethical dimensions. At the same time, it will (in collaboration with HowToPedia.org) offer practical suggestions for what individuals, communities and businesses can do, and provide the opportunity for users to join the SW community and contribute their own ideas, participate in discussions on the issues, exchange information about practical actions, test their knowledge and compete with friends.

In addition to providing information and a framework for young people (and others) to learn, share and act, SW will provide games and stories for younger learners, and tools for teachers.

In short, SW will be a unique, comprehensive internet platform dealing with all aspects of sustainability and well-being, and filling a gap in what is presently available for young people (of all ages).

Who are we ?
We are a project or the Earth Focus Foundation (EFF), a non-profit organisation based in Geneva since 2005, which has provided information and opportunities for young people to learn, discuss and voice their concerns about sustainability issues.

Now we want – and are seeking resources – to update and extend these opportunities more widely through a number of complementary projects: ‘Sustainability World’ with global reach; ‘Sustainabus’ initially in Geneva; ‘Green Map’ in Switzerland; and ‘Centre Objectif Terre’, an international icon and centre of culture and sustainability to be built in Geneva.

         

How will contributors be acknowledged ?

The contributions of the original author(s) of each topic page and those of community members who subsequently provide content suggestions that are accepted by the review panel and lead to modifications of the content, will be acknowledged on a meta-data page accessible via a ‘contributors’ ikon on the relevant page.

What is the SW Community? What does membership offer ?

The SW Community is …  Participants will be able to access all the information on the SW site, comment on and contribute to the development of the information provided, describe and pose questions about sustainability-related actions taken or planned, and take quizzes to test their understanding. The SW Forums provide opportunities to submit comments and questions on the content relating to specific topics and personal actions you have taken or are thinking of taking, and to respond to the comments and questions of other participants. The quizzes provide opportunities to test your own understanding and compete with your friends within the SW Community.

Who can join the SW Community ? How to become a member ?

Anyone who wants to learn, act and dialogue on sustainability, and who signs up to the basic principles of Sustainability World, can join as a participant. Participants may also propose their services as moderators or review panel members.

Who can contribute information ? How to become a contributor ?

Any member of the SW Community can comment on existing content on the SW Portal and offer suggestions for improvement. They can also propose the inclusion of a new, additional topic or sub-topic, and offer to provide an initial draft text  …

I’m a student: what use can I make of SW ?

That depends on you! You may just be curious and want to learn about a particular topic, in which case you can read the pages concerned. If you have been given an assignment to work on for one of your courses, you’ll be able to read up about it and find links to additional online material that might be useful. If you may want to organize an activity in your local community, you’ll be able to find suggestions for practical activities that you could consider, and ask other community members about their experiences and the lessons they have learned in undertaking particular kinds of activity. And there are games you can play, or you’ll be able to gain SW ‘stars’ by completing the quizzes and compete with your friends who are doing the same.

I’m a teacher: what use can I make of SW ?

SW is a resource that you can use to plan your own lessons on any of the wide variety of topics covered. You’ll be able to use the information SW provides and, in addition, be guided to additional sources of more detailed information if needed. There will also be pointers to existing pedagogical materials that are available online that you may consider using. And you’ll be able to liven up the learning process for your students by encouraging them to take the quizzes and compete with each other, and to contribute to improving life within the school’s community area by encouraging and helping your students to select, plan and undertake activities of benefit to the community.

I’m in (or planning to go into) business: what use can I make of SW ?

If you’re interested in running, or being part of, a business that wants to contribute to making the world a better and more sustainable place, rather than just making money, then you’ll find many indications of things you need to think about and ideas of what you might want to do and what to avoid…

I’m just interested in sustainability: what use can I make of SW ?

That depends on you! You may just be curious and want to learn about a particular topic, in which case you can read the pages concerned. If you may want to organize an activity in your local community, you’ll be able to find suggestions for practical activities that you could consider, and ask other community members about their experiences and the lessons they have learned in undertaking particular kinds of activity. And there are games you can play, or you’ll be able to gain SW ‘stars’ by completing the quizzes and compete with your friends who are doing the same.

Who moderates SW forums ? How to become a moderator ?

The SW ‘content’ and ‘action’ forums will be moderated by designated members of the SW Community including, but not limited to, members of the relevant specialist review panels. Their role is to ensure that contributions to the forums are specifically relevant to the topic concerned and in line with the SW principles that all members of the Community will have signed up to. They may provide advice and guidance in response to particular contributions. Exceptionally, they may suppress contributions that are inappropriate and, when necessary, recommend to the General Editorial Board that a particular member be excluded from the Community…(?)

Any member of the Community may propose their services to become a moderator by completing the ‘offer of services’ facility and providing details of their experience and qualifications that might enable them to fulfil such a role in relation to a specified topic. Decisions to accept of decline offers of services are taken by the Project Team and the relevant specialist review panel.

What is the legal status of EFF and SW ?

The Earth Focus Foundation, founded in 2005, is a Swiss no-profit organisation based in Geneva, registered as a Foundation under ref. # CHE-112.406.970 , with the aim of promoting environmental protection and sustainable development. For many years, EFF has provided information and opportunities for young people to learn, discuss and voice their concerns about sustainability issues.

SW is a project of the EFF in collaboration with partners  …

How will SW be financed ?

The initial, 18-month phase of launching the project will be financed by donations from institutions and individuals who support its aims and wish to partner the launch.

In the longer term, the ongoing project would be supported by donations from users (members of the SW community) on the model of Wikipedia and other sites offering independent information. Some revenue may also be generated from the sale of SW goods and publications, and of any e-learning courses that may eventually be produced and offered by an SW ‘academy’.

How will SW be managed ?

A broad-based Steering Committee will be formed to provide overall direction to the project. The project itself will be launched under the leadership of two internationally-recognized experts in the fields of sustainability and humanitarian action who will be responsible for project development and promotion, overall project management and supervision, and where/when necessary, content contribution and content quality control. Their contributions will be pro-bono for the initial phase, until the necessary financial resources for normal project implementation are established. Two project research and coordination staff will be recruited for day-to-day implementation of the project activities, notably supporting content development.

How can I donate to SW ?

There’s a “Donate” button on the Home Page of SW and a “Donate” option at the bottom of every page. You can use those to make donations directly using a credit card or to find details of how to donate in other ways…

Can I get a job with SW ?

SW is essentially a collaborative effort of members of the SW Community who are committed to making the world a better, more sustainable place and who give time and effort to that end. That includes members of the specialist review panels and general editorial board. The process will be coordinated by only a handful of paid staff. So, there are many opportunities to contribute but very few paid jobs. If you have specific proposals to make, please use the ‘offer of services’ facility and provide details of your experience and qualifications.