Wednesday Feb. 10, 1999
Washington DC, The Ronald Reagan Building

1. Introductions

Council Co-Chair Ray Anderson welcomed the Council Members and the public and facilitated introductions.

Mr. Anderson began by giving a brief history of the current phase of PCSD. He noted that a diversity of input from across the country informed and inspired this report to the President. He also explained that the draft report had been circulated to council members and to the public whose comments have been incorporated into the current version of the report.

Mr. Anderson outlined the agenda for the meeting to include:

  • Public responses to the report
  • Task Force presentations on changes to the report
  • The discussion of report rollout strategies
  • Presentation of the proposed timeline to the National Town Meeting


Comments by Member Ehrmann,

Mr. Ehrmann outlined PCSD's policy about public input and response. He stated, that though PCSD is not required to undergo public review it has been the belief of PCSD that public comments and interaction are necessary for a complete understanding of all the issues of sustainability.

Following these comments Mr. Spitzer, executive director of PCSD, asked the audience if any one present had already submitted comments to the PCSD. Some hands were raised.

II. Public Comments on the Report


Comments by Mr. Spitzer,

Mr. Spitzer prefaced his remarks by explaining that the current report to the President was written with the policymaker in mind. He explained that government agencies, non-governmental organizations, private businesses, scientists, and other concerned citizens took the opportunity to review the draft report. Commenters addressed concerns such as early action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity, land use and development, international cooperation, and overpopulation.

Mr. Spitzer said that several commenters were concerned that certain issues were not addressed in this report. He addressed these concerns by explaining that the President had asked the PCSD to focus on four areas of sustainable development.

Those four focus areas were:

    • Reduction of green house gas emissions
    • Promote the next steps in building an environmental management system for the 21st century
    • promoting partnerships in implementation of sustainable development for metropolitan and rural areas, and
    • to work internationally with other national councils to partner there, as well as to encourage capital flows from developed to developing countries that would be consistent with sustainable development principles.

Mr. Spitzer added that though the current focus was limited to these four areas, PCSD has addressed many more concerns in previous literature and will endeavor to create a web version of the report that is cross-linked with these other documents.

Mr. Spitzer continued to address public comments by responding to those comments which called for a town meeting. Mr. Spitzer noted that a town meeting is in fact already planned and will take place in Detroit from May 2-5, 1999.

III. Finalize Report


Comments by Mr. Percy,

Mr. Percy described the Climate Change Task Force as a diverse body that was able to reach agreement on a very controversial topic. Mr. Percy listed some accomplishments of the Climate Change Task Force:

    • principles for an incentive-based and voluntary action program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
    • policies to accelerate the rapid deployment and development of climate friendly technologies over the course of the next 10 to 15 years
    • opportunities to realize the broader benefits and global opportunities of climate change mitigation strategies
    • a constructive framework for policymakers and others to think about on climate change
    • win-win opportunities for taking action on climate

Mr. Percy continued his comments by listing the key findings of the task force:

    • climate protection policy should be fundamentally linked to any national agenda for economic growth, environmental protection, and social justice.
    • timely action to reduce the risks of climate change
    • many actions that protect the climate have multiple benefits
    • an incentive-based program is essential to catalyze voluntary early action to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions
    • climate-friendly technology will play a critical role as we strive to achieve reduced greenhouse gas emissions as well as other sustainable development goals
    • consensus building, outreach, and inclusive approaches are essential components of sustainable of climate action

Mr. Percy asked that members of the council take this time to make any recommendations for changes to the document. None were offered. As such Mr. Percy noted that the council had reached consensus on this topic as represented in the report. Mr. Percy suggested that the take away message was that, "We believe that we can protect the climate in ways that create new opportunities for economic growth and for improving everybody's quality of life."

Environmental Management Task Force

Comments by Mr. Mcclosky,

Mr. Mcclosky spoke about the Environmental Management Task Force. He suggested that the primary message of this report was a call for an environmental management framework for the future that has certain characteristics:

    • It is driven by goals
    • It is driven by performance
    • It is driven by information
    • It is attuned to nature cycles
    • It is sensitive to variations in sectors of our economy

Comments by Mr. Benforardo,

Mr. Benforardo began by underscoring the value of the comments received. He followed with a description of the four areas of change that had been identified by the task force.

    1. Information - standardized methods of obtaining and measuring environmental data.
    2. Performance - encourage increased environmental performance from all sectors of society. Explore the use of incentives to accomplish this.
    3. Linking of strategies in places - encourage networking among different regions so that environmental strategies can be compared and lessons can be shared.
    4. New approaches to persistent and emerging environmental issues.

Comments by Mr. Drake,

Mr. Drake defined the environmental framework as a broad sense of institutional and individual influences that affect the environment, including, environmental laws and regulations, corporate stewardship, economic and financial systems and other features of organized society. The framework, he continued, will include standard requirements for all but more flexible strategies for those who demonstrate strong environmental performance and increased improvement. In addition the framework will include traditional tools such as national standards, permits, reporting, enforcement, et cetera--and new approaches--market and information based approaches, stakeholder participation in decision-making, performance-based standards, et cetera. The result will be a system that is less uniform and more complex, but also more flexible.

At this point Mr. Mcclosky read some of the changes that had been made to the document. There were no objections to these changes.

Metropolitan and Rural Strategies Task Force

Comments by Mr. Bernstein,

Mr. Bernstein asserted that the overall theme of this report was that social capital is still viable. He suggested that place-based strategies tend to increase this social capital as well as proving that people care about their environment, community, and economy together. Mr. Bernstein pointed to 8 billion dollars of new funding for sustainable initiatives as an inspiration for further work in this area.

5 strategic opportunity areas which the Environmental Management Task Force had identified:

    • reinfrastructure, which includes the concepts of both ecosystem stewardship and natural capital;
    • work on better land use and development;
    • community revitalization and reinvestment including making the most of existing places
    • rural community and enterprise development;
    • and finally resource efficiency and materials reuse.


Mr. Bernstein indicated that the principal recommendation was to realign existing authority and resources with local sustainable community goals efforts and initiatives, around three major resource areas.

  1. information and technical assistance.
  2. economic incentives and financial assistance.
  3. building local capacity to provide better partnerships.

Mr. Bernstein addressed public comments by suggesting that the public influenced work to:

    • streamline the chapter, make it more readable,
    • emphasize strategies that support local initiatives that invest in people and places
    • address new ways of thinking about economic development e.g., economic opportunities built from knowledge rather than materials.
    • Implementation efforts

- Mr. Bernstein gave a three-year forecast for such efforts.

Year One: increase learning through better information and networks, including the identification of ways of taking the information that's already collected and using to help build better knowledge bases on a place by place basis.

Year Two: invest in efforts to better leverage new market development opportunities and the creation, where necessary, of intermediary organizations to start to bring the resources behind the efforts that have been identified in each of these five categories.

Year Three: stronger linkages between the many parties and institutions key to this process


International Task Force

Comments by Ms. Dillon-Ridgely,

Ms. Dillon-Ridgely began her comments by thanking Commerce Secretary Daly, Ken Lay, John Palmisano, and Catherine McKalip-Thompson for the contributions that they made to this report.

Ms. Dillon-Ridgely explained that the public focused on details like chapter sequencing, word choice, and support materials suggesting that there was support for the document as a whole.

Ms. Dillon-Ridgely asserted that the United States has not only a leadership, but also a stewardship role to play in the world context. Accordingly the US needs to take seriously its commitment to sustainability even as the PCSD's Charter comes to an end. Ms. Dillon-Ridgely suggested that the report begin with a call to continue the type of work that PCSD has done so successfully over the last five years.

She also underscored the importance of national sustainable development councils across the globe including Canada, Mexico, the Philippines, Japan, Jamaica, the Czech Republic, Germany, Khazakstan, Brazil, and Greece. There are over 100 nations with sustainable development councils.



Comments by Mr. Mario Rietta, a member of the Honduran National Council on Sustainable Development, Conades,

Mr. Rietta stated that Honduras, the Caribbean, and the Dominican Republic were very happy to participate with the United States on sustainable development issues.

Comments by Mr. Bernstein,

Mr. Bernstein suggested three strategies designed to urge the federal government to continue to have a body devoted to sustainable development:

    1. Begin the report with a letter that suggests that a national council devoted to sustainable development should continue to be a national priority
    2. Write a letter, as a council, to the President and Vice-President
    3. As individuals write letters to newspapers

Mr. Bernstein suggested that councils like PCSD are important because they are multi-agency groups that represent a broad-spectrum. As the government is a big presence in the economy it is important that it be represented and interested in sustainable development.

Comments by Mr. Adams,

Mr. Adams suggested that the next time an organization such as PCSD is created there should be a greater commitment to its advancement by senior member of the administration as well as senior members in the corporate world. He also said that the experience of working with PCSD has been very valuable to him and to the way people are thinking about sustainable development.

Comments by Mr. Ehrmann,

Mr. Ehrmann agreed that PCSD should urge the federal government continue to support sustainable development through a dedicated body. He indicated that a preface to the report could include lessons learned over the 6 years of PCSD as well as an indication of how the PCSD momentum will continue.

Comments by Ms. Perrault,

Ms. Perrault suggested that the report indicate how the federal government is going to follow up on the findings the report. She agreed that the federal government needed to continue to have a body devoted to sustainable development in order to better inform the public about sustainable practices. She thought this body might also provide a place for the public to find out specifically how the government is moving towards sustainable practices.

Comments by Mr. Johnson,

Mr. Johnson voiced his support for federal participation in a continuing body that focuses on sustainable development.

Comments by Mr. Percy,

Mr. Percy indicated that PCSD has a responsibility to pass on what was learned from its 6 years as a council to those that will come after to continue its work.

Comments by Mr. Anderson,

Mr. Anderson voiced his agreement that a continuing national body for sustainable development be maintained. He said that the PCSD is a national symbol without which there would be no place to point to the fact that the US is supporting a sustainable world.

Comments by Ms. Dillon-Ridgely,

Ms. Dillon-Ridgely noted that though there has been environmental progress in the last six years, as well as progress in understanding the economics of sustainable practices, there is still a long way to go to increase social capital. She suggested that sustainable development as a concept needed to be better marketed. She also voiced her strong support for a continuation of a body like PCSD.


IV. Report Roll Out Strategy and the NTM

Presentation by Mr. Spitzer,

Mr. Spitzer expressed the desire to dovetail NTM outreach strategies with the roll-out of the final report.

He proceeded to suggest some timelines for rollout. He suggested that approximately 20-30 organizations should be targeted for a personal presentation of the report rather than just a mailing.

Mr. Spitzer also wanted to stress the cross-cutting themes found in the report. Though there are four different chapters about four different issues many themes have risen to the top such as collaboration, stewardship, individual responsibility, information, and capacity building.

The primary messages of this discussion were as follows:

  • though there are cross-cutting themes evident in the report these themes may not always be the substance of particular chapters.
  • NTM personal commitments should be creative and challenging
  • NTM commitments should find a visual form of representation to captivate the media
  • The NTM has already generated significant excitement

Final Public Comment

Comments by Mr. Strong,

Mr. Strong suggested that more focus be put on the issue of multi-culturalism. He also stressed the need for implementation strategies. In addition he touched on such themes as respect for life, spiritualism, equality, human dignity, and human rights.

Comments by Mr. Rietti,

Mr. Rietti congratulated PCSD on their work, invited them to central America, and encouraged dialogue with the President about rejecting older methods of exclusion for newer methods of inclusion.