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Executive Summary

Introduction



As the world stands at the threshold of the 21st century, the President's Council on Sustainable Development is completing its sixth year working together to visualize and realize a new American dream. In our dream of a better future, prosperity, fairness, and a healthy environment are inseparable threads woven into the fabric of our everyday life at work, at play, with our families and communities, and among nations.


Our Vision is of a life-sustaining Earth. We are committed to the achievement of a dignified, peaceful, and equitable existence. A sustainable United States will have a growing economy that provides equitable opportunities for satisfying livelihoods and a safe, healthy, high quality of life for current and future generations. Our nation will protect its environment, its natural resource base, and the functions and viability of natural systems on which all life depends. Sustainable America, p. iv

We began this journey in June 1993 when President Clinton asked the Council -- a groundbreaking partnership of leaders from industry, government and nonprofit organizations -- to recommend a national action strategy for sustainable development. We began by exploring some of the most challenging issues of our day, including the rapid social, economic, environmental, and technological changes all about us -- locally, nationally and internationally. We struggled with many difficult and seemingly inconsistent ideas. We listened to, occasionally argued with, and learned from one another. We traveled the country and spoke to Americans from all walks of life. Thousands of people participated in workshops, conferences, Council task forces and our public meetings.

By early 1996 we reached agreement on a set of common beliefs and recommendations and delivered them to the President in our first report, Sustainable America: A New Consensus for Prosperity, Opportunity, and a Healthy Environment for the Future. The beliefs and recommendations, which remain as timely as ever, are a compass for a more sustainable future. They are also the basis of all our work since then. The recommendations were comprehensive, addressing everything from economic and regulatory policy to natural resource management, from strengthening communities and education to international leadership. Crafted to move the nation toward sustainability, the recommendations were directed toward public and private sectors, as well as citizens.

Upon receiving the report, the President asked us to continue our work. Since 1996 we have worked to implement some of our policy recommendations, continued to forge consensus on sustainable development policy, begun getting the word out about sustainable development to larger audiences, and encouraged efforts to evaluate and report on progress. Substantively, we were asked to focus on (1) policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (2) the next steps in building the new environmental management system of the 21st century, (3) policies and approaches to build partnerships to strengthen communities; and (4) policies to foster U.S. leadership in international sustainable development policy.

This report presents our recommendations in each of these policy areas. As we did before, we worked collaboratively, overcoming differences of opinion and perspective to find common ground. In some cases, we found common ground where conventional wisdom seems to suggest none should exist. Our work on climate change was some of the most challenging. As we navigated through the often-heated public debates surrounding the international climate negotiations, we reached agreement on critical steps needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. By listening to each other and working together we were able to overcome many of our differences in other policy areas as well.

Each chapter of the report corresponds to one of the substantive areas in the Council's charter. In each policy area we have produced a concrete set of findings and recommendations for future action.

  • Climate Change (Chapter 2) Early on, we agreed on a set of principles to guide overall United States climate policy. With accord on key issues, we then (1) developed principles for an incentive-based program to catalyze voluntary early action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; (2) agreed on policies to spur the rapid development and deployment of climate-friendly technologies in the next 10-15 years; and (3) stimulated opportunities to realize the broader benefits and global opportunities of climate change mitigation strategies.

  • Environmental Management (Chapter 3) Our report on environmental management builds on the earlier work of the Council and of others to improve the existing system and build a new, more effective, flexible and accountable one. It goes beyond our earlier efforts by recognizing that we are reaping some benefits and learning a great deal from existing reforms, but that most reforms were not designed to promote sustainable development. This report begins to answer the question, what would environmental management look like if we did? We do so by identifying the attributes of an environmental management framework designed for sustainable development and recommending the critical steps that can be taken to move the existing environmental management framework toward one that is more sustainable.

  • Metropolitan and Rural Strategies for Sustainable Communities (Chapter 4) This report on building sustainable communities directly follows from our earlier work. It goes a step further by suggesting that the many successful efforts promoting more sustainable communities have seven common characteristics. It also goes further by acknowledging that although we are witnessing more activities and successes, most sustainable community development initiatives face daunting technical, financial, and institutional obstacles. In order to fulfill the promise of sustainable communities, we addressed a fundamental question: How can we, as a nation, help sustainable community initiatives "get over the hump" from inspiration to implementation? In response, we developed a framework for implementation highlighting five strategic opportunities for sustainable community development -- "green infrastructure," land use and development, community revitalization and reinvestment, rural enterprise and community development, and materials reuse and resource efficiency -- and three types of tools and resources that can overcome major implementation obstacles: information and technical assistance, economic incentives and financial assistance, and local capacity and partnerships.

  • International(Chapter 5) In our earlier work, we identified key international sustainable development issues and the importance of leadership for the United States. Our recent work has been more focused. Specifically, we have examined how international private capital flows affect sustainable development, particularly in investments in developing countries. We convened stakeholders to discuss key issues in the prospective Multilateral Agreement on Investment and on a structure for facilitating capital flows to developing countries to help them embark on a clean development path in the context of climate change. We have also begun outreach to other National councils on sustainable development.


In all of our work, we saw connections between the specific policy issues we were asked to study; and whenever possible, we made those connections. We know, for example, that community development decisions have implications for greenhouse gas emissions, just as reducing greenhouse gas emissions has implications for community development. We know that an environmental management system that creates incentives for sustainable development will provide incentives for greenhouse gas emissions reductions and community reinvestment. A more prosperous, healthy and equitable future for our children requires all of us, as individuals and institutions, to understand and make these types of connections whenever we can.

We have several hopes for this report and for the future. Our recent experiences reaffirm the Council's view that collaboration, individual responsibility and stewardship are cornerstones for a path to a more Sustainable America. The Council is very much a mirror of America. Because this report is more of a handbook for people and organizations struggling to improve our quality of life than are either of our earlier reports, we hope readers will use it that way. The content of the report as much reflects the ideas and innovations we have seen and heard about, as it provides direction and recommendations on specific policy areas that we believe can immediately move us in a more sustainable direction. Many specific ideas and suggestions can be found in the body of the report.

We present this report to the President knowing the challenges to improve our quality of life are as great as ever. But as we said 3 years ago, "We view this challenge with considerable optimism . . . But optimism is not complacency." Vigilance and perseverance will be needed if we are to meet these local, national and global challenges.

Climate Change



"Advise the President on domestic implementation of policy options to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Council should not debate the science of global warming, but should instead focus on the implementation of national and local greenhouse gas reduction policies and activities, and adaptations in the U.S. economy and society that maximize societal benefits, minimize economic impacts, and are consistent with U.S. international agreements." -- PCSD Charter, April 1997

The risk of accelerated climate change in the next century cannot be ignored as the United States seeks to achieve its aspirations for economic growth, environmental protection, and social justice. Although the challenges of taking action are not inconsequential, failure to respond could mean that we miss opportunities to improve our quality of life. We can reap the benefits of acting to protect the climate as we strive to achieve economic, environmental, and social improvement for ourselves without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

In the course of its work on climate change, the Council benefitted from the wealth of scientific research, technical and economic studies, and policy analysis that is available on the subject. In November 1997, the Climate Task Force approved a set of climate principles that were transmitted to the President. Rather than focus on the entire range of issues that emerge when considering climate change, the 29 PCSD members, including leaders from businesses, environmental and civic organizations, and local and federal government, focused on developing consensus climate policy recommendations in three key areas:

  • principles for an incentive-based program to catalyze voluntary early action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
  • policies to spur the rapid development and deployment of climate-friendly technologies in the next 10-15 years;
  • stimulating opportunities to realize the broader benefits and global opportunities of climate change mitigation strategies.

Climate Change Key Findings

  • Climate protection policy is fundamentally linked to any national agenda for economic growth, environmental protection, and social justice. If we are to achieve all of these goals together, climate change must be drawn onto the roadmap for the achievement of our other national aspirations.

  • We urge timely action to reduce the risks of climate change. Incentives for early action, international agreements, accountability, flexibility, broad-based measures to encourage technology, and fairness are essential in any climate mitigation strategy.

  • Many actions that protect the climate have multiple benefits. Action to protect the climate can help solve other social, economic, and environmental problems, benefit society, create global opportunities, and meet the needs of current and future generations.

  • An incentive-based program is essential to catalyze voluntary early action to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions. The program should include broadly-based participation; encourage learning, innovation, flexibility, and experimentation; grant formal credit for legitimate and verifiable measures to protect the climate; ensure accountability; be compatible with other climate protection strategies and environmental goals; and be inspired by government leadership.

  • Climate-friendly technology will play a critical role as we strive to achieve reduced greenhouse gas emissions as well as our other sustainable development goals. Rapid deployment of existing technologies and continued investment in research and development are essential elements of any strategy that aims to help the United States and the rest of the world secure a future of reduced greenhouse gas emissions to protect the climate. Because greenhouse gases are released from small, large, stationary, and mobile sources throughout our economy, a broad and diverse policy portfolio to rapidly develop and disseminate climate-friendly technologies is essential. The Council reached agreement on a solid course of action that could accelerate the development and deployment of climate-friendly technology in the agriculture, buildings, electric power, industry, and transportation sectors and reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in the next 10-15 years.

  • Consensus building, outreach, and inclusive approaches are essential components of sustainable climate action.

Environmental Management


It is possible to provide more prosperity and more opportunity for more people with less burden on the environment if we agree that is what we want and we are prepared to make it profitable to attain. This is the underlying premise of sustainable development; it is the assumption guiding this report.

A 21st century environmental management framework that fosters sustainable development will be one that drives continuous environmental improvement, while respecting and creating continuous economic and social value. To do this, the new framework must consider, accept and strategically optimize the benefits of the dynamic interplay between people, markets, information, technology, and the natural world.

One of the most important revelations of the PCSD in Sustainable America was that meaningful and long term solutions for environmental, economic and social equity problems will require new strategies that address the source of problems, create mutual benefit throughout society and the chain of commerce, and achieves multiple objectives -- environmental, economic and social -- simultaneously. Building on this view, the PCSD sought to further identify the interrelated tools and strategies that need to be put into place for aligning economic and social equity concerns with a clean and safe environment. Sustainable America emphasizes some specific approaches that are necessary in building a new environmental management framework, but alone may be insufficient for simultaneously achieving the interrelated goals of sustainable development outlined elsewhere in the report.

Sustainable America stands for the concept that no matter what environmental issue we choose to address, we must also recognize and understand the economic and social dimensions of the issue, and that they are often interrelated or connected. We must likewise, identify the multi-purpose solutions to these issues or problems that address the environmental, economic and social aspects in relation to one another.

Throughout the report an attempt was made to highlight the objectives of a new environmental management framework with references to "related activity" or examples corresponding to the specific recommendations. These and other recent initiatives were not explicitly designed to achieve sustainable development goals, yet some are achieving success, but not always in the integrative way, or to the degree, that sustainable development requires. Read together, the suggested framework attributes, recommendations, and related activities form a compass for charting the next steps in building the environmental management framework of the 21st Century.

Environmental Management Key Findings

A new environmental management framework that fosters sustainable development requires re-thinking the nature, source, and linkage of problems. Currently, the definitions of environmental management and environmental protection are too narrow in some cases for identifying the true nature of problems and re-casting their potential solutions.

  • A dynamic environmental management framework needs to understand interdependencies between communities, nature, and the economic world, to craft strategies that respect and use those interdependencies to improve environmental quality. Increasingly, consumer, market and regulatory behavior need to complement natural systems or cycles as well as each other.

  • The framework can and should serve multiple purposes by improving business management, resource productivity, worker protection, community life, ecosystem health, and global awareness. Information garnered by the framework should be used to identify new social and economic opportunities (as well as responsibilities) for making continuous environmental improvements.

  • The framework needs to reliably monitor ambient conditions and measure the environmental performance of activities or organizations that affect environmental quality, including products, households, services, firms, governments, and the economy. Future environmental effects, and potential ones, must be anticipated as well.

  • The framework must make extensive use of incentives that provide both rewards for improving environmental outcomes and penalties for degrading environmental quality. Rewards can and should vary in value and depending upon the magnitude of the benefits.

  • The capacity to protect the environment needs to grow with the economy, adapting and harnessing innovative environmental management systems, accounting practices, and market forces that enhance environmental performance.

  • An environmental management framework must be sensitive to differences among people, communities, and organizations. Communities, like organizations, differ in size, ability, sophistication, and understanding of environmental issues. Metropolitan and Rural Strategies

Goal Statement for Sustainable Communities "Encourage people to work together to create healthy communities where natural and historic resources are preserved, jobs are available, sprawl is contained, neighborhoods are secure, education is lifelong, transportation and health care are accessible, and all citizens have opportunities to improve the quality of their lives." -- Sustainable America, 1997

In Sustainable America, The President's Council on Sustainable Development (PCSD) presented a vision of community development that embraced economic, environmental, and equity concerns -- a vision informed by the collective aspirations and experiences of communities around the nation.

Over the past five years of the Council's work, we have observed considerable innovation in how people with different interests can act collectively to strengthen their communities. In hundreds of communities and regions across America, community leaders representing citizens groups, elected officials, businesses, and other stakeholders are "rolling up their sleeves" to engage each other and work together. Whether they are restoring watersheds, creating accessible transportation alternatives, championing more efficient use of land, fostering racial and cultural tolerance, making housing more affordable, linking people with quality jobs, or creating new environmental businesses, these community leaders are improving the lives of today's citizens while safeguarding their communities for future generations. Our review of projects and programs from around the country suggests that successful initiatives have seven characteristics in common:

  • They serve, invest in, and respect people
  • They invest in and respect places
  • They align with or create new market forces to improve community well-being
  • They look for and build on the local assets of their communities
  • They constructively address issues of race and class
  • They build regional alliances and multi-stakeholder coalitions
  • They are locally-driven

There is no denying the power of example these efforts provide. Although we are witnessing more activities and successes, most sustainable community development initiatives face daunting technical, financial, and institutional obstacles. In order to fulfill the promise of sustainable communities affirmed in Sustainable America, the Metropolitan and Rural Strategies Task Force addressed a fundamental question: How can we, as a nation, help sustainable community initiatives "get over the hump" from inspiration to implementation?

The task force developed a framework for implementation that highlights five "strategic opportunity" areas for sustainable community development -- "green infrastructure," land use and development, community revitalization and reinvestment, rural enterprise and community development, and materials reuse and resource efficiency. We believe that investing resources in each of these five areas leads to a comprehensive approach to sustainable community development. However, communities that invest in any one of these five areas can benefit in their efforts to develop sustainably. The framework also identifies three types of tools and resources that can overcome major implementation obstacles: information and technical assistance, economic incentives and financial assistance, and local capacity and partnerships.

Framework for Implementation





Tools

Strategic Opportunities

Green infrastructure Land use and development Community revitalization and reinvestment Rural community and enterprise development Materials use

and resource efficiency

Information and Technical Assistance
Economic Mechanisms and Financial Assistance
Local Capacity and Regional Partnerships


The framework's philosophy asserts that many actors working at multiple levels need to take several actions, both small and large, if we are to more rapidly build a nation of sustainable communities. Numerous stakeholders -- including the Federal government, State, local and tribal governments, the private sector, and community-based organizations -- have already taken creative and bold steps to advance the use of tools and resources. Our recommendations of specific policies and actions, presented later in this report, acknowledge these efforts, but also contends that more can be done.

In order to accelerate the pace of sustainable community development, we must make the most out of existing authority and resources. By immediately undertaking new initiatives and building upon those already underway, communities can achieve the following within the next three years:

  • By Year 1: Learning Through Information and Networks. In one year, we can enhance existing capacity by deploying new information toolkits and creating learning networks to rapidly enable cross-regional innovation and partnerships. We can also begin to make a persuasive and credible case for action to the public and key decision-makers through education and communications.

  • By Year 2: Leveraging Markets and Financial Intermediaries. By year two, we can be ready to leverage economic mechanisms and financial intermediaries to create the crucial financial support needed by communities seeking to create sustainable projects. We can also leverage the economic mechanisms needed to create incentives for everybody to act in ways that enhance sustainability.

  • By Year 3: Linking Institutions to Build Local Capacity and Partnerships. By year three, we can institutionalize strong regional and multi-jurisdictional partnerships and local capacity that will institutionalize and implement sustainable community development.

By "learning, leveraging, and linking," various stakeholders can work together to create communities where everyone in every generation can have a high quality of life.

Metropolitan and Rural Strategies

Key Findings

  • Urgent action is needed by communities to combat air and water pollution, loss of ecosystems, poverty, energy inefficiency, and other threats to their current and future well-being. Individuals and institutions that pursue sustainable community development are resolving these pressing challenges and are also finding new or rediscovering local economic, ecological, and social assets that can strengthen their communities.

  • Place matters. More and more individuals and leaders are recognizing the intrinsic value of the places in which they live, work, and visit. Community leaders are also recognizing that place is defined by more than artificial jurisdictional lines. Successful initiatives are attempting to understand their regions -- composed of ecosystems, economic networks, and human habitats -- as a total larger than the sum of its parts in order to create more realistic and useful policies and plans. They are also recognizing that problems and challenges can be best tackled by networks of people with diverse backgrounds, views, and experiences.

  • Five strategic opportunity areas for sustainable community development -- "green infrastructure," land use and development, community revitalization and reinvestment, rural enterprise and community development, and materials reuse and resource efficiency -- hold particular promise and potential. We believe that each of these five opportunity areas can deliver significant benefits. When invested in collectively, the five areas comprise a comprehensive approach to sustainable community development.

  • Three types of tools can overcome major implementation obstacles: information and technical assistance, economic incentives and financial assistance, and local capacity and partnerships. The use of these tools can be advanced by numerous stakeholders, including Federal, State, and local government, community-based and environmental organizations, and the private sector.

  • In order to accelerate the pace of sustainable community development, we must make the most out of existing authority and resources. By immediately undertaking new initiatives and building on initiatives already underway, we can significantly enhance local capacity, leverage markets and financial intermediaries, and strengthen multi-jurisdictional and regional partnerships within the next three years.

International


The United States of America is blessed with significant endowments of capital -- human, social and financial. These riches enable the United States to be a world leader. In turn, this leadership gives the nation a substantial amount of economic, political, and cultural influence around the world. The United States must recognize this leadership role, and use it to help put itself, and the world on a path toward sustainable development.

As a society, Americans need to appreciate that U.S. leadership is wide-ranging, and can be informal in nature. For instance, American movies and television programs are popular throughout the world. Through them many people are shown a higher standard of living than their national circumstances currently allow them to attain. These media images can lead to many results: dreams for a better future, immigration as people seek the "American Dream," as well as dissatisfaction with their current situation leading to changes in local customs and cultures.


Advise the President on the promotion of sustainable development in international fora, and gather and disseminate information about US and international sustainable development policies. Promote the creation and continuation of national sustainable development councils around the world. Additionally, given the increasing flow of financial capital from developed to developing countries, the Council shall recommend policies that encourage foreign investment by the U.S. Government, businesses, investors, and , as appropriate, multilateral institutions that are consistent with the principles of sustainable development. -- PCSD Charter, April 1997

Given the enormous challenge of charting a path toward sustainability for our country, our government and our communities, the Council focused primarily on domestic issues during its first four years. The International Task Force was formed in 1997 to ensure that an international perspective is maintained in the Council's efforts to develop a plan for America's path to sustainable development.

The Task Force recognized the value of sharing knowledge across national borders. Lessons learned by Americans pursuing a sustainable future, and new technologies and processes developed in the United States could be of interest and use to other nations. Correspondingly the United States can learn from the many interesting examples of sustainable development found all over the world.

The Task Force focused on how international private capital flows affect sustainable development, particularly in investments made in developing countries. To help develop an understanding of this complex set of issues, the Task Force undertook several activities. It convened stakeholders to discuss key issues in the prospective Multilateral Agreement on Investment and on a structure for facilitating capital flows to developing countries to help them embark on a clean development path. It also provided input to the United Nations effort to take a fresh look at how to finance development, emphasizing that financing should be for sustainable development and take into account social and environmental concerns in parallel with economic growth.

International Key Findings and Recommendations

  • The United States must use its leadership role to help chart a path toward sustainable development both at home and abroad. In doing so the United States should be open to learning from other nations' experiences.

  • The Council can benefit from information exchange with the international community. Efforts should be made to disseminate the Council's work internationally as well as to learn from other countries' experiments and experiences toward achieving sustainable development.

  • New coalitions of interests are needed, both domestically and internationally, to build support for the changes necessary for sustainable development to be achieved. Without "champions" from all sectors, change will not occur.

  • Multilateral agreements should integrate economic, environmental and equity considerations. Sustainable development is inherently an integrative effort. Economic agreements must consider environmental and social effects and environmental agreements must take economic and equity effects into account.

  • The Council or a similar body should continue as a forum for thoughtful consideration of issues of sustainable development by high-level leaders in all sectors. In having such a body, the United States sends a strong signal to the world that multistakeholder dialogue and consensus-building are important means of policy advice and development, and that all sectors are committed to a more sustainable future.

  • Foreign investment, assistance, and all government activities should be progressively and consistently conducted in ways that promote recipient countries' efforts to achieve sustainable development. The global need for "green" development strategies creates new investment opportunities. Domestic policies should enhance America's ability to take advantage of these trends and support the creation and expansion of businesses which help improve the environment and well-being of citizens around the world.

    Introduction


    The Journey

    As the world stands at the threshold of the 21st century, the President's Council on Sustainable Development is completing its sixth year working together to visualize and realize a new American dream. In our dream of a better future, prosperity, fairness, and a healthy environment are inseparable threads woven into the fabric of our everyday life at work, at play, with our families and communities, and among nations.

    Our Vision is of a life-sustaining Earth. We are committed to the achievement of a dignified, peaceful, and equitable existence. A sustainable United States will have a growing economy that provides equitable opportunities for satisfying livelihoods and a safe, healthy, high quality of life for current and future generations. Our nation will protect its environment, its natural resource base, and the functions and viability of natural systems on which all life depends. Sustainable America, p. iv

    We began this journey in June 1993 when President Clinton asked the Council -- a groundbreaking partnership of leaders from industry, government and non-profit organizations -- to recommend a national action strategy for sustainable development. We began by exploring some of the most challenging issues of our day, including the rapid social, economic, environmental, and technological changes all about us -- locally, nationally and internationally. We struggled with many difficult and seemingly inconsistent ideas. We listened to, occasionally argued with, and learned from one another. We traveled the country and spoke to Americans from all walks of life. Thousands of people participated in workshops, conferences, Council task forces and our public meetings.

    By early 1996 we reached agreement on a set of common beliefs and recommendations and delivered them to the President in our first report, Sustainable America: A New Consensus for Prosperity, Opportunity, and a Healthy Environment for the Future. The beliefs and recommendations, which remain as timely as ever, are a compass for a more sustainable future. They are also the basis of all our work since then. The recommendations were comprehensive, addressing everything from economic and regulatory policy to natural resource management, from strengthening communities and education to international leadership. Crafted to move the nation toward sustainability, the recommendations were directed toward public and private sectors, as well as citizens.

    Upon receiving the report, the President asked us to continue our work. Since 1996 we have worked to implement some of our policy recommendations, continued to forge consensus on sustainable development policy, begun getting the word out about sustainable development to larger audiences, and encouraged efforts to evaluate and report on progress. Substantively, we were asked to focus on (1) policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (2) the next steps in building the new environmental management system of the 21st century, (3) policies and approaches to build partnerships to strengthen communities; and (4) policies to foster U.S. leadership in international sustainable development policy.

    This report presents our recommendations in each of these policy areas. As we did before, we worked collaboratively, overcoming differences of opinion and perspective to find common ground. In some cases, we found common ground where conventional wisdom seems to suggest none should exist. Our work on climate change was some of the most challenging. As we navigated through the often-heated public debates surrounding the international climate negotiations, we reached agreement on critical steps needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. By listening to each other and working together we were able to overcome many of our differences in other policy areas as well.

    Each chapter of the report corresponds to one of the substantive areas in the Council's charter. In each policy area we have produced a concrete set of findings and recommendations for future action.

    • Climate Change(Chapter 2) Early on, we agreed on a set of principles to guide overall United States climate policy. With accord on key issues, we then (1) developed principles for an incentive-based program to catalyze voluntary early action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; (2) agreed on policies to spur the rapid development and deployment of climate-friendly technologies in the next 10-15 years; and (3) stimulated opportunities to realize the broader benefits and global opportunities of climate change mitigation strategies.

    • Environmental Management (Chapter 3) Our report on environmental management builds on the earlier work of the Council and of others to improve the existing system and build a new, more effective, flexible and accountable one. It goes beyond our earlier efforts by recognizing that we are reaping some benefits and learning a great deal from existing reforms, but that most reforms were not designed to promote sustainable development. This report begins to answer the question, what would environmental management look like if we did? We do so by identifying the attributes of an environmental management framework designed for sustainable development and recommending the critical steps that can be taken to move the existing environmental management framework toward one that is more sustainable.

    • Metropolitan and Rural Strategies for Sustainable Communities (Chapter 4) This report on building sustainable communities directly follows from our earlier work. It goes a step further by suggesting that the many successful efforts promoting more sustainable communities have seven common characteristics. It also goes further by acknowledging that although we are witnessing more activities and successes, most sustainable community development initiatives face daunting technical, financial, and institutional obstacles. In order to fulfill the promise of sustainable communities, we addressed a fundamental question: How can we, as a nation, help sustainable community initiatives "get over the hump" from inspiration to implementation? In response, we developed a framework for implementation highlighting five strategic opportunities for sustainable community development -- "green infrastructure," land use and development, community revitalization and reinvestment, rural enterprise and community development, and materials reuse and resource efficiency -- and three types of tools and resources that can overcome major implementation obstacles: information and technical assistance, economic incentives and financial assistance, and local capacity and partnerships.

    • International (Chapter 5) In our earlier work, we identified key international sustainable development issues and the importance of leadership for the United States. Our recent work has been more focused. Specifically, we have examined how international private capital flows affect sustainable development, particularly in investments in developing countries. We convened stakeholders to discuss key issues in the prospective Multilateral Agreement on Investment and on a structure for facilitating capital flows to developing countries to help them embark on a clean development path in the context of climate change. We have also begun outreach to other National councils on sustainable development.

    In all of our work, we saw connections between the specific policy issues we were asked to study; and whenever possible, we made those connections. We know, for example, that community development decisions have implications for greenhouse gas emissions, just as reducing greenhouse gas emissions has implications for community development. We know that an environmental management system that creates incentives for sustainable development will provide incentives for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing community reinvestment. A more prosperous, healthy and equitable future for our children requires all of us, as individuals and institutions, to understand and make these types of connections whenever we can.

    We have several hopes for this report and for the future. Our recent experiences reaffirm the Council's view that collaboration, individual responsibility and stewardship are cornerstones for a path to a more Sustainable America. The Council is very much a mirror of America. Because this report is more of a handbook for people and organizations struggling to improve our quality of life than are either of our earlier reports, we hope readers will use it that way. The content of the report as much reflects the ideas and innovations we have seen and heard about, as it provides direction and recommendations on specific policy areas that we believe can immediately move us in a more sustainable direction. Many specific ideas and suggestions can be found in the body of the report.

    We present this report to the President knowing the challenges to improve our quality of life are as great as ever. But as we said 3 years ago, "We view this challenge with considerable optimism..... But optimism is not complacency." Vigilance and perseverance will be needed if we are to meet these local, national and global challenges.

    On May 2-5, 1999, the PCSD and its partners1 will hold a National Town Meeting for a Sustainable America. The event will use the ideas in this report and those from tens of thousands of Americans who are joining together with us to demonstrate how we can make America a more sustainable, livable place. Sustainable America, A Reprise

    Challenges

    As we said in Sustainable America in 1996, "these are remarkable times." Market economies have continued to spread around the globe, even as they experience unprecedented growing pains. The overall flow of trade, investment, and people moving across international borders is increasing. Communication, manufacturing, agricultural, and transportation technologies continue to change how we work and play, and what we produce and consume. Information and knowledge are now hallmarks of our economy and increasingly the world economy. Energy and raw material efficiency per unit of economic output continue to increase, even as overall consumption and resource use increases.

    We recognized the significant benefits and challenges from growing economies, population and demand for goods, services, food and space. The world's growing economic output continues to raise more people from poverty and create opportunity, but also creates growing disparities between rich and poor. Growing population and affluence increase demand for materials and land, in turn creating pollution, depleting finite resources, and stressing natural systems and the communities dependent on those resources.

    In our travels across America, we spoke with thousands of Americans from all walks of life to hear about their concerns and aspirations. We were humbled and inspired by what we learned. From them, we learned how crime, congestion, education good jobs, clean air and water are fundamental concerns. We learned how sustainable development remains abstract unless it is connected to people's daily lives and the communities in which they work, live and play. We saw innovation in communities across America and noted "striking contrasts between communities struggling with dissatisfaction and despair, and communities where energized and optimistic citizens have become engaged in shaping their own future.2 "

    As we said three years ago,
    We believe that significant change is both necessary and inevitable. American society has been characterized by its capacity to embrace and profit from change. But how can communities be mobilized to leave future generations a cleaner, more resilient environment; a more prosperous nation; a more equitable society; and a more productive and efficient economy -- one that is competitive internationally? This is especially difficult because the pace and extent of today's changes are unprecedented, reflecting the local consequences of the interaction of economic, social, and environmental forces at the global level3 .

    Pursuit of Common Goals4

    Prosperity, fairness, and a healthy environment are interrelated elements of the human dream of a better future. Sustainable development is a way to pursue that dream through choice and policy. Work, wealth, community, and the environment are interwoven into the fabric of everyday life and the life of the nation. Sustainable development is the framework that integrates economic, environmental, and social goals in discourse and policies that enhance the prospects of human aspirations.

    The Council had hard and frequent debates about the term economic growth, and heard it discussed by members of the public as well, at almost all of our meetings. In the end, we agreed that to achieve our vision of sustainability some things must grow - - jobs, productivity, wages, profits, capital and savings, information, knowledge, education - - and others - - pollution, waste, poverty, energy and material use per unit of output must not. We agree on growth, and agree that it must be defined and measured with care. The issue is not whether the economy needs to grow but how and in what way.

    An economy that creates good jobs and safeguards public health and the environment will be stronger and more resilient than one that does not. A country that protects its ecosystems and manages its natural resources wisely lays a far stronger base for future prosperity than one that carelessly uses its assets and destroys its natural capital. A society that invests in its children and communities, equitably providing education and opportunity, is far more likely to prosper than one that allows the gap between rich and poor to widen.

    By recognizing that the economy, the environment, social equity, and well-being are integrally linked and by having policies that reflect that interrelationship, Americans can regain their sense that they are in control of their future and that the lives of each generation will be better than the last. Thinking narrowly about jobs, energy transportation, housing, or ecosystems - as if they were not connected - creates new problems even as it attempts to solve old ones. Asking the wrong questions is a sure way to get misleading answers that result in short-term remedies for symptoms, instead of cures for long-term basic problems.

    Seeing choices in terms of tradeoffs and balance reflects a history of confrontational politics. It pits vital necessities against each other in a false contest that inhibits exploration of the best solutions, those that link economic gain, ecological improvement, social equity, and well-being solutions that build common purpose from shared goals.

    The United States is a democracy with powerful traditions of individual liberty. What happens in American society ultimately depends on the values that guide the choices that individuals make which is a function of their commitment and understanding. People act according to their perception of the intersection of their needs and wants, their values and conditions, and the events that affect them. But the narrow and immediate interests of individuals, organizations, or government officials do not necessarily coincide with the long-term interests of a larger community at home or abroad. Although people can act in the interests of the larger community, they rarely do so alone. Because each fears losing separately, all lose together.

    WE BELIEVE STATEMENT5

    There are certain beliefs that we as Council members share that underlie all of our agreements. We believe:

    1. To achieve our vision of sustainable development, some things must grow -- jobs, productivity, wages, capital and savings, profits, information, knowledge, and education -- and others -- pollution, waste, and poverty must not.

    2. Change is inevitable and necessary for the sake of future generations and for ourselves. We can choose a course for change that will lead to the mutually reinforcing goals of economic growth, environmental protection, and social equity.

    3. Steady progress in reducing disparities in education, opportunity, and environmental risk within society is essential to economic growth, environmental health and social justice.

    4. The United States made great progress in protecting the environment in the last 25 years, and must continue to make progress in the next 25 years. We can achieve that goal because market incentives and the power of consumers can lead to significant improvements in environmental performance at less cost.

    5. Economic growth based on technological innovation, improved efficiency, and expanding global markets is essential for progress toward greater prosperity, equity, and environmental quality.

    6. Environmental regulations have improved and must continue to improve the lives of all Americans. Basic standards of performance that are clear, fair, and consistently enforced remain necessary to protect that progress. The current regulatory system should be improved to deliver required results at lower costs. In addition, the system should provide enhanced flexibility in return for superior environmental performance.

    7. Environmental progress will depend on individual, institutional and corporate responsibility, commitment, and stewardship.

    8. We need a new collaborative decision process that leads to better decisions; more rapid change; and more sensible use of human, natural, and financial resources in achieving our goals.

    9. The nation must strengthen its communities and enhance their role in decisions about environment, equity, natural resources, and economic progress so that the individuals and institutions most immediately affected can join with others in the decision process.

    10. Economic growth, environmental protection, and social equity are linked. We need to develop integrated policies to achieve these national goals.

    11. The United States should have policies and programs that contribute to stabilizing global human population; this objective is critical if we hope to have the resources to ensure a high quality of life for future generations.

    12. Even in the face of scientific uncertainty, society should take reasonable actions to avert risks where the potential harm to human health or the environment is thought to be serious or irreparable.

    13. Steady advances in science and technology are essential to help improve economic efficiency, protect and restore natural systems, and modify consumption patterns.

    14. A growing economy and healthy environment are essential to national and global security.

    15. A knowledgeable public, the free flow of information, and opportunities for review and redress are critically important to open, equitable, and effective decision making.

    16. Citizens must have access to high quality and lifelong formal and nonformal education that enables them to understand the interdependence of economic prosperity, environmental quality, and social equity -- and prepares them to take actions that support all three.



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