Empowering Equality: Shining a Light on Gender Equality

Student Submission by Tyrell Liyanage

As we live in a progressive society, I believe it is crucial to continue to shed light on the importance of the United Nations Goal 5: Gender Equality. By definition, equality refers to treating everyone fairly, avoiding discrimination of any kind. Embracing gender equality is to ensure that each individual is entitled to the same opportunities and an equal chance to succeed in life. I want to highlight the significance of gender equality, the severity of which it can affect individuals as well as some proposed solutions to work toward this goal.

Despite significant movements and societal beliefs, women are often met with systemic obstacles in different areas of life such as in the workplace, education and are often overlooked in decision making. On a global scale, women in the workforce earn an average of 23 percent less than men, and they dedicate approximately three times more hours to unpaid domestic and caregiving responsibilities compared to men (Blazhevska, 2015). I believe that everyone, regardless of their gender identity, should receive the same treatment, opportunities and respect. For me personally, emphasising the importance of gender equality stems from growing up with a sister, a mother and a girlfriend and witnessing firsthand the injustices they have faced simply due to their gender. But gender inequality isn’t solely affected by women – having an imbalance in equality causes a hindrance in society’s progression towards a sustainable environment.

In order to combat the issue of gender inequality, I believe it is imperative to bring awareness to this by introducing education programs that promote gender equity from a young age. In doing so, schools are able to remove gender stereotypes, promote respect and educate individuals on diversity to cultivate a culture of empowerment and fairness amongst all people. Gender inequality is most commonly faced at the workplace. To mitigate this issue, hiring managers should incorporate a fair hiring process, close the gender pay gap, and maintain a supportive environment in which everybody feels safe. Past research shows that gender diverse companies have shown a significant increase in output compared to those who are not. Travel Excellence is a tourism company specialising in sustainable tourism. They found that the increase in employee satisfaction from 78 to 87% as assessed by the organisational climate survey, resulted in enhanced productivity, improved customer service, and subsequently, increased sales. This was following the achievement of the Gender Equality Seal (the corporate standard for gender equality). (Gutiérrez and Castaño, 2021). Studies such as Mocanu (2022) also highlight how hiring processes could be changed such as implementing practices such as objective screening, which replace interviews with objective or standardised tests that may help increase employee diversity by removing subjective biases from the hiring process. Putting these measures in place will foster an environment in which gender equality is no longer in question in years to come.


Blazhevska, V. (2015) United Nations: Gender equality and women’s empowerment, United Nations Sustainable Development. United Nations: Sustainable Development Goals. Available at: https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/gender-equality/ (Accessed: March 24, 2024).

Gutiérrez, D. and Castaño, A. (2021) “Gender equality in the workplace: Key driver of well-being, business performance and sustainability,” in Aligning Perspectives on Health, Safety and Well-Being. Cham: Springer International Publishing, pp. 95–116.

Mocanu, T. (2022). Designing gender equity: Evidence from hiring practices and committees. Working paper.

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Harnessing Wave Energy: A Sustainable Solution for Climate Action and Coastal Resilience

Student Submission by Joel Fink

As a student of Climate Science, I’ve delved into the intricate dynamics of coastal erosion and deposition, recognising the profound impact that waves, especially those influenced by storms, have on shaping coastlines. In this discussion, I aim to explore the intricate relationship between waves and coastal dynamics, drawing insights from case studies across the globe, and propose innovative solutions, including the utilisation of wave energy conversion, to address the pressing issue of coastal erosion and deposition, in alignment with UN Sustainable Development Goal 13: Climate Action.

Wave energy, generated by wave motion, plays a pivotal role in coastal dynamics, with its strength influenced by various factors such as wind speed, sea level, and topography. This energy can reshape sandy and rocky beaches, posing significant challenges to coastal infrastructure. Studies project that nearly half of the world’s sandy beaches may disappear due to erosion and deposition by the end of the century, underlining the urgency of addressing this issue (Vousdoukas et al., 2020).

Surface waves, driven by wind friction, interact with coastal features, altering sediment distribution and shoreline morphology. The interplay between swash and backwash determines whether sediments are deposited or eroded, with anthropogenic activities exacerbating coastal erosion by reducing sediment supply. However, storms amplify wave impacts, causing extensive shoreline recession and infrastructure damage.

Case studies, such as those examining storm surges in the UK and North America, highlight the correlation between storm intensity and coastal impacts, emphasizing the need for effective solutions to mitigate erosion and deposition (Haigh et al., 2016).

Traditional approaches, including beach nourishment and shoreline armouring, offer short-term relief but come with drawbacks such as high costs and limited effectiveness. In contrast, wave energy conversion presents a promising solution with dual benefits: renewable energy generation and coastal protection (Ozkan et al., 2022).

By harnessing wave energy, we can dampen wave impacts and mitigate storm surges, as demonstrated by case studies in locations like Dauphin Island, Alabama. However, challenges remain, including high initial costs and potential environmental impacts, necessitating further research and careful implementation (Ozkan et al., 2022).

Addressing coastal erosion and deposition requires innovative solutions that balance environmental protection and sustainable development. Wave energy conversion offers a promising avenue for climate action and coastal resilience, providing renewable energy while safeguarding our coastlines in a relatively short timeframe. By embracing science-based approaches and fostering collaboration, we can create a more resilient future for coastal communities worldwide, in alignment with SDG 13.


Haigh, I., Wadey, M., Wahl, T., Ozsoy, O., Nicholls, R., Brown, J., Horsburgh, K. and Gouldby, B., 2016. Spatial and temporal analysis of extreme sea level and storm surge events around the coastline of the UK. Scientific Data, 3(1).

Vousdoukas, M., Ranasinghe, R., Mentaschi, L., Plomaritis, T., Athanasiou, P., Luijendijk, A. and Feyen, L., 2020. Sandy coastlines under threat of erosion. Nature Climate Change, 10(3), pp.260-263.

Ozkan, C., Mayo, T. and Passeri, D., 2022. The Potential of Wave Energy Conversion to Mitigate Coastal Erosion from Hurricanes. Journal of Marine Science and Engineering, 10(2), p.143.

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Rolling Towards a Greener Future: Revving Up Sustainable Transportation Options

Student Submission by Keilani Trewavis

Climate change poses an increasingly urgent threat to both humanity and our shared planet. With global surface temperatures already surpassing 1.1C above pre-industrial levels, it’s clear that we must address unsustainable energy use, land use and lifestyles to help limit future warming.

In response to these growing challenges, the United Nations introduced the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs), encompassing 17 goals aimed at fostering a sustainable future. These goals tackle a range of interdisciplinary issues involving education, inequality, economic growth, climate change, and restoration of our oceans and forests. They provide a roadmap to address the complex challenges of the 21st century.

Goal 13 of the UN SDGs focuses on enhancing global climate action. Given the complex nature of climate change and it’s global impacts, its often easy to underestimate the power of collective individual actions. But consider how one small action for 8 billion individuals could have a significant global consequence?

Take for example, your daily commute. Have you ever thought about the carbon footprint of driving to work/university or running errands? While a large portion of CO2 emissions come from  high-energy sectors, and large-scale manufacturing, transportation accounts for a staggering 26% of global CO2 emissions. In Australia alone, transportation contributes 19% of CO2 emissions, with 60% stemming from passenger vehicles. Here are just a few ideas for some less carbon-intensive transportation modes:

Walk or cycle short distances

For shorter trips, such as errands to the local supermarket, or even visiting local friends, consider opting for walking or cycling. There is no lower CO2 emission mode than walking or cycling, and with 40% of trips in Melbourne being less than two kilometres in length, it is the perfect city for this transportation mode. If Melbournians were to increase their walking and cycling to one quarter of their trips, it could contribute to around 4.4Mt of emissions reductions.

Public transportation for longer commutes

Opting for public transport can be a great option for emissions reductions. Currently, in Melbourne, only 37% of people use public transportation. It’s estimated that increasing public transportation ridership by as little as 9% could reduce CO2 emissions by 766,000 tonnes annually by 2050. To help achieve these goals, the Victorian Government has committed over $70 billion to create a public transportation network that is accessible to all Australia’s by creating new connections between major train stations, removal of level crossing, and increasing accessibility for blind or low-vision individuals.

Rideshare options

Shared travel can help reduce emissions in several ways. Rideshare options have higher per-unit utilization, meaning that they reduce the need for excessive manufacturing. This not only reduces single-vehicle occupancy rides but also reduces the amount of new car manufacturing, a sector that strongly contributes to carbon emissions.

So, the next time you’re considering your commute or running errands, think about the environmental impact of your choices. Could you opt for the train instead of driving to work? Perhaps you could combine errands into one trip or share a ride with friends or colleagues. Not only will these actions help reduce CO2 emissions, but they’ll also benefit your health and well-being. By making small changes to our daily routines, we can all play a part in combating climate change and creating a more sustainable future for generations to come.

Image: ABC

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Preserving Our Blue Planet: The Urgency of Sustainable Ocean Management

Student Submission by Jehan Mohamed

Our oceans, covering over 70% of the Earth’s surface, play a crucial role in sustaining life on our planet. From regulating the climate, to providing food and livelihoods for millions, oceans are a vital resource for sustainable development. However, the state of our oceans demands immediate attention and action. Marine pollution, exacerbated by pharmaceutical waste, and the impact of ocean acidification have been taking a toll on marine ecosystems worldwide. In turn, the United Nations has listed the conservation and sustainable use of oceans for sustainable development as Goal 14 of their Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) they hope to reach by 2030; with focussed strategies implemented to reduce the influences of marine pollution and ocean acidification, whilst leveraging the protection of ocean environments offered by Marine Protected Areas.

Targeting Pollution

Marine pollution, both pharmaceutical and otherwise, poses a significant threat to marine ecosystems. The UN reports that in 2021, 17 million metric tons of plastic polluted global water systems, with this volume expected to triple by 2040. Incorrect disposal of pharmaceuticals and personal care products has also been a growing issue in recent years, with a study from Monash University finding that aquatic predators in wastewater-influenced streams can be exposed to up to half a dose of human medication. Enhanced regulations on the disposal of pharmaceutical waste and increased public awareness campaigns about the proper disposal of medicinal waste can help to mitigate the impact of pharmaceuticals, to safeguard the health of our oceans. Furthermore, investing in advanced wastewater treatment methods can help to filter residues from pharmaceuticals before they can reach marine environments.

Combatting Ocean Acidification

Within the next six years, a multi-faceted approach will be required to slow the effect of ocean acidification. 25% of carbon dioxide that is released into the atmosphere from the use of fossil fuels is absorbed by the oceans, forming carbonic acid, and reducing the pH of the waters. Ocean acidification can be attributed to the death of coral reefs, as well as altering the marine food webs by altering the behaviour, physiology, and distribution marine species, resulting in biodiversity loss. Adopting renewable energy sources and carbon capture technologies, as well as supporting research initiatives that monitor ocean acidification trends can help to reduce carbon emissions.

Expanding Marine Protected Areas

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are aquatic sectors where governments have placed limits on human activity, serving as sanctuaries for marine life. In some cases, this is a limit or a ban on fishing, and in others, it can be a complete ban on human interaction. Expanding MPAs and establishing new ones in vulnerable marine habitats provides safe habitats for biodiversity to flourish. In June of 2022, over 100 of the UN Member States committed to conserving at least 30% of the world’s oceans with MPAs by 2030.

A United Strategy for Progress

A unified approach that integrates efforts to address marine pollution, ocean acidification and the expansion of MPAs is critical to the success of this six-year strategy. Coordinating actions across sectors and stakeholders will help to maximise the impact of global conservation efforts. Increasing public engagement and education campaigns will also be critical in mitigating the impact of these issues in the coming years, as well as foster a collective commitment to ocean conservation.


Falkenberg LJ, Bellerby RGJ, Connell SD, Fleming LE, Maycock B, Russel BD, Sullivan FJ, Dupont S (2020). Ocean acidification and human health. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(12): 4563. Doi:10.3390/ijerph17124563

Richmond EK, Rosi EJ, Walters DM, Fick J, Hamilton SK, Brodin T, Sundelin A, Grace MR (2018). A diverse suite of pharmaceuticals contaminates stream and riparian food webs. Nature Communications, 9. doi:10.1038/s41467-018-06822-w

National Geographic (2024). The Importance of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). https://education.nationalgeographic.org/resource/importance-marine-protected-areas/

United Nations (2023). Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development – Goal 14 2023 Report. https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/report/2023/Goal-14/

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Empowering the people – how young influencers have a large role to play in achieving SDG 14

Student Submission by Dahlia Paneth

SDG 14 is to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. This SDG is often overlooked or deemed less important in relation to the other SDGs. However, it cannot be underestimated how important maintaining our oceans ecosystems is.

I have always had a deep love for the ocean and feel my best when I am floating in the middle of nowhere. For years now I have followed ‘Brinkley Davies’ on Instagram. Her mission is to spread awareness of marine life and habitat protection through sharing her diving experiences and incredible footage close up with marine wildlife. She works very closely with the Balu Blue Foundation which is a wildlife action network. On their social media they post constant updates related to various ecosystems, specifically in the Ningaloo region in Western Australia, but also nation-wide. For example, their most recent post was about coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef.

I think people like Brinkley are the secret weapon the government needs to spread awareness and create real change for SDG14. The average young person is not getting involved in government initiatives or signing up to ‘clean up the ocean days’, but they are on social media. And seeing genuine, beautiful people like Brinkley spread information organically, enables young people to learn about this issue and want to get involved.

To achieve SDG14 by 2030, the government needs to partner with people like Brinkley to work in conjunction with their official programs.

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is an organisation endorsed by the UN Environmental Programme and many other intergovernmental organisations. Their goals are to end overfishing, restore fish stocks, protect eco-systems, and eliminate illegal fishing. The MSC have many programs to combat this issue, specifically the renowned MSC blue fish tick label. If this label is on a fish product, it means that the fish is certifiably sustainable. The MSC also work hard to increase ocean literacy which is “an understanding of the ocean’s influence on you and your influence on the ocean”.

The MSC should pay Brinkley and others like her to promote their work, spreading awareness to every young Australian.  This way, the government is not only investing in on the ground solutions, but also long-term education to prevent this problem from becoming an unbreakable cycle. In 2019. New Zealand hosted their first conference on tourism and SDGs. It became clear that there is a “need for diverse actors to work in partnership to achieve the SDGs.” It is clear that including local stakeholders is crucial to achieving this SDG. It cannot be a government exclusive initiative, but rather must be grassroots led solutions. It is clear that local actors need to “integrate sectoral issues”.  Official programs to create protected water zones are very expensive. By endorsing young, influential people, costs are cut down but the message is spread quicker and in a more digestible manner.

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The Role of Mining in Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 13

The Role of Mining in Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 13

By Lucia Deutsch

In order to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SGD) number 13, urgent climate action, we need more mining. I know it sounds controversial, but please, hear me out.

Unfortunately for us all, the materials necessary for green technology aren’t as readily available as we need them to be, and our capacity to recycle the materials that we have already excavated meets <1% of the requirements for the future (Haque et al., 2014). Currently, green energy sources require minerals that are still underground, for example, a wind farm needs nine times more minerals than a gas power plant (IEA, 2021) and that’s just the beginning.

To replace the current fleet of petrol-powered vehicles with electric vehicles globally, we would need over 10.5 million tonnes of lithium alone (Herrington, 2021). Most green technology requires Rare Earth Elements (REE) or Critical Minerals (CM) of some kind, whether that’s neodymium for its magnetic qualities, or copper for its conductivity, but we’re simply not producing enough to keep up with the current global demand (Haque et al., 2014). In the figure below, you can see a more comprehensive breakdown of what we need to mine by 2030 to meet this demand.


Mining REE and CM is an investment into achieving SDG 13, but to make this more green we need to change our mining practices, there are a few ways we need to change to make an impact:

  • Better regulation and rehabilitation of mine sites to limit environmental damage.
  • Only mining high grade ore, to limit waste product and reduce CO2 emissions.
  • Using less invasive techniques, such as geophysics for detecting ore bodies and in-situ
    mining to avoid open pits.
  • Capping coal mining and investing money generated in REE and CM mining.

Carbon dioxide is the most abundant greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, and the largest contributor to this is the burning of fossil fuels (Letcher, 2020). Therefore, to make significant action in next six years we must make a larger effort to use sustainable practices to mine a greater quantity of REE and CM, to meet the demand for green technologies.


  • Haque, N., Hughes, A., Lim, S. and Vernon, C., 2014. Rare earth elements: Overview of
    mining, mineralogy, uses, sustainability and environmental impact. Resources, 3(4), pp.614-
    635. https://doi.org/10.3390/resources3040614
  • Herrington, R., 2021. Mining our green future. Nature Reviews Materials, 6(6), pp.456-458. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41578-021-00325-9
  • IEA (2021), The Role of Critical Minerals in Clean Energy Transitions, IEA, Paris https://www.iea.org/reports/the-role-of-critical-minerals-in-clean-energy-transitions, Licence: CC BY 4.0
  • IEA (2023) Critical Mineral Demand [Data Set], IEA, accessed 24 March 2024. https://www.iea.org/data-and-statistics/data-product/critical-minerals-demand-dataset#license
  • Letcher, T.M., 2020. Introduction with a focus on atmospheric carbon dioxide and climate change. In Future energy (pp. 3-17). Elsevier. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-08-102886- 5.00001-3
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Quality Education

Student submission by Ayushi Patel

“Education is the fundamental right of every human being, yet it remains tragically elusive for around sixty million children worldwide(1). Even more alarming is the staggering figure of over 600 million children who attend school but are deprived of quality education(2). Projections from UNICEF and the UN paint a grim picture, with an estimated 84 million people expected to be out of school by 2030. This educational crisis not only perpetuates cycles of poverty but also constitutes a grave violation of basic human rights, fostering conditions ripe for increased crime, inequality, and societal unrest(3).

The challenges underlying this crisis are multifaceted and profound. Beyond mere deficiencies in school infrastructure, teaching resources, and equipment, systemic issues plague educational systems globally. In regions like sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia, political turmoil and pervasive gender discrimination often force the closure of schools, depriving countless children of their right to learn. Even in cases where schools remain operational, government-run institutions frequently suffer from
inadequate infrastructure and a shortage of qualified educators. Moreover, many teachers, burdened by their financial struggles and uncertain career prospects, may lack the motivation to provide effective instruction.

The goal for the future is to ensure universal access to quality education by 2030. This requires empowering parents and communities through education seminars and outreach programs, enabling them to support their children’s learning and monitor their progress. Addressing economic factors is crucial to prevent children from working instead of attending school. By fostering collaboration among parents, communities, and policymakers, we can create a brighter, more equitable future
where every child has the opportunity to succeed through education.

School curriculum should undergo a redesign to incorporate subjects beyond traditional academics. While textbooks provide theoretical knowledge, they may not necessarily equip students with practical skills essential for their future livelihoods. Introducing interest-based subjects such as carpentry, painting, art, music, and other vocational skills alongside core academic subjects can better prepare students for diverse career paths and foster a more holistic approach to education. Communication, etiquette, professionalism, and most importantly working on their face values and learning to portray their skills more effectively should be improvised in the syllabus(4). All this will assure them a better future and keep their horizons for opportunities wide.

Furthermore, initiatives such as providing mid-day meals can serve as incentives to encourage children to attend school regularly. Additionally, centralizing the authority of school management under the purview of the central government rather than local authorities can ensure smoother operations and shield schools from the influence of local politics, thereby fostering a more conducive learning environment.

The children in schools today represent the future of our world. It’s imperative to cultivate a generation capable of devising sustainable solutions for the challenges that will arise from technological advancements and increased production. As technology evolves, new problems will emerge, necessitating innovative thinking and capable individuals to address them effectively. Therefore, investing in the education and development of our youth is essential for ensuring a brighter and more
sustainable future.

1. Roser M. Access to basic education: Almost 60 million children in primary school age are not in school [Internet]. Our World in Data. 2021. Available from: https://ourworldindata.org/children-not-in-school

2.Education | UNICEF [Internet]. www.unicef.org. Available from: https://www.unicef.org/education#:~:text=Every%20child%20has%20the%20right%20to%20learn.&text=Yet%2C%20for%20too%20many%20children

3.Thangeda A, Baratiseng B, Thatoyamodimomompati. Education for Sustainability: Quality Education Is A Necessity in Modern Day. How Far do the Educational Institutions Facilitate Quality Education? Journal of Education and Practice [Internet]. 2016;7(2). Available from: https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1089752.pdf

4.Sustainability [Internet]. www.mdpi.com. Available from: https://www.mdpi.com/journal/sustainability/topical_collections/qual_educ_good_learn_environ

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