Table of Contents | Chapter 1
Flourishing communities are the foundation of a healthy society.
One important measure of America's potential for long-term
vitality will be the emergence of communities that are attractive,
clean, safe, and rich in educational and employment opportunities. But
before engaging in any discussion about sustainable communities,
an understanding of the shared concepts and definitions of
sustainable development must exist.
What is Sustainable Development?
The term "sustainable development" and its definitions originated
in an international context. The term was popularized by the
World Commission on Environment and Development, which is also known
as the Bruntland Commission, named after its chair Gro
Harlem Bruntland. Established by the United Nations (U.N.) General
Assembly in 1984, the commission was asked to learn about the
connections between the issues of environment and development. It held
meetings on every continent with people from all walks of life and
presented its final report, Our Common
Future, to the U.N. General Assembly in 1987.
In Our Common Future, the Bruntland Commission defined
sustainable development as development that allows people "...to meet the
needs of the present without compromising the ability of future
generations to meet their own needs." This definition was adopted by
the President's Council on Sustainable Development in 1993 as it
initiated its work.
Although the Bruntland Commission's definition addresses
the intergenerational and long-term aspects of sustainable
development, alone it is not a comprehensive definition of the term and its
Sustainable development has been described as the integration
of the three e's environment, economy, and equity. In addition,
a variety of themes have become closely associated with the
concept of sustainable development. For development to be sustainable,
it must satisfy five criteria. Decisions must consider and
Long-term impacts and consequences Sustainable
development requires the use of a long-term horizon for decisionmaking
in which society pursues long-term aspirations rather than simply
making short-term, reactive responses to problems. By keeping an
eye out for the long-term, sustainable development ensures that
options for future generations are maintained if not improved.
Interdependence Sustainable development recognizes
the interdependence of economic, environmental, and social
well-being. It promotes actions that expand economic opportunity, improve
environmental quality, and increase social well-being all at the
same time, never sacrificing one for another.
Participation and transparency Sustainable
development depends on decisionmaking that is inclusive, participatory,
and transparent. It recognizes the importance of process
and decisionmaking that includes the input of the stakeholders who
will be affected by decisions.
Equity Sustainable development promotes equity
between generations and among different groups in society. It
recognizes the necessity of equality and fairness, and it reduces
disparities in risks and access to benefits.
Proactive prevention Sustainable development is
anticipatory. It promotes efforts to prevent problems as the
first course of action.
Sustainable development is one of those rare ideas that could
dramatically change the way we look at "what is" and "what could
be." It is about doing things in ways that work for the long run
because they are better from every point of view better economically,
environmentally, and socially. It provides a new framework
for working together to expand economic opportunities, rebuild
communities, revitalize democracy, develop a new generation
of environmentally superior technologies, link entrepreneurship to
environmental stewardship, and bring our increasingly urban way
of life into balance with nature. Sustainable development challenges
us to envision a society superior to today's society, and to make it
a reality for our children and grandchildren.
What are sustainable communities?
Sustainable communities are cities and towns that prosper
because people work together to produce a high quality of life that
they want to sustain and constantly improve. They are communities
that flourish because they build a mutually supportive, dynamic
balance between social well-being, economic opportunity, and
environmental quality. While it is not possible today to point to a list and
say, "These communities are sustainable," the emerging ideal of
sustainable communities is a goal many are striving to achieve. And
while there is no single template for a sustainable community, cities
and towns pursuing sustainable development often have characteristics
in common. Generally speaking, they integrate the five concepts
outlined above and demonstrate their application locally.
Some communities have adopted sustainable community principles
through legislation, executive order, or other actions.
The concept of sustainable communities should be viewed as an
ideal for communities to pursue an ideal whose possibilities are
In sustainable communities, people are engaged in building a
community together. They are well-informed and actively involved
in making the decisions that affect their lives. In making
decisions, they consider the long-term benefits to future generations as
well as themselves. They understand that successful long-term
solutions require partnerships and a process that allows for
representatives of a community's diverse sectors to be involved in
discussions, planning, and decisions that respond directly to unique
local needs. They also recognize that some problems cannot be
solved within the confines of their community, and that working in
partnership with others in the region is necessary to deal with
In sustainable communities, people use this participatory
approach to make conscious decisions about design. The concepts of
efficiency and livability permeate decisions about physical
structure. Development patterns promote accessibility, decrease sprawl,
reduce energy costs, and foster a human-scale built environment.
In sustainable communities, all people have access to
educational opportunities that prepare them for jobs to support themselves
and their families in a local economy that is dynamic and prepared
to cope with changes in the national and global economy. In
sustainable communities, partnerships involving business,
government, labor, and employees promote economic development and jobs.
They cooperatively plan and carry out development strategies that
create diversified local economies built on unique local advantages
and environmentally superior technologies. These efforts can
strengthen the local economy, buffering the effects of national and
international economic trends that sometimes result in job losses in
a community. Such partnerships also invest in the education
and training necessary to make community members more productive,
raise their earning power, and help strengthen and attract business.
Use of environmentally superior technologies for transportation,
industry, buildings, and agriculture boosts productivity and
lowers business costs while dramatically reducing pollution, and solid
and hazardous wastes.
Businesses, households, and governments in sustainable
communities make efficient use of land, energy, and other resources,
allowing the area to achieve a high quality of life with minimal waste
and environmental damage. These communities are healthy and secure
and they provide people with clean air, clean water, and safe food.
Why are communities key to sustainable development?
Whether the United States and other nations will achieve a
sustainable future largely depends on how well the concepts and
principles of sustainable development are integrated into decisionmaking at
the community level. If efforts to build a sustainable future are
to take hold, they must do so in the day-to-day lives of people
in their workplaces, stores, neighborhood associations, community
organizations, local government, labor unions, schools, and
It is in communities where people work, play, and feel most
connected to society. Problems like congestion, pollution, and
crime often seem abstract when they appear as national statistics,
but they become personal and real at the community level. In the
same way, sustainable development may remain a remote theoretical
concept for many people until it is described in the context of community.
Then it becomes more clear that sustainable development is
directly related to aspects of people's daily lives and their
fundamental needs, such as educational and job opportunities, health care,
affordable housing, clean air and water, and
convenient transportation. It is within communities that children the
basic education and skills that will allow them to thrive in the
It is within communities that people can most easily bring
diverse interests together, identify and agree on goals for
positive change, and organize for responsive action. While the
challenges facing the nation are difficult to resolve at any level of
government, local communities offer people the greatest opportunity
to meet face-to-face to fashion a shared commitment to a
sustainable future. Nothing could do more to foster sustainable
development than a nationwide effort to apply this idea at the community level.
Much of what is needed to create more sustainable communities
is within reach if people and their community institutions
join forces. Many communities are beginning to use sustainable
development as a framework for thinking about their future. By
building upon their leadership and innovation, marshaling and
reorienting government resources, and creating new standards for process
and participation, strengthened communities can provide the
foundation for a stronger, revitalized America.
Task Force Recommendations
policy recommendation 1
Community-Based Public Dialogue, Planning, Priority-
Setting, and Implementation
Bring people together to identify, prioritize, and learn about
key issues in their community; develop a vision of what they want
their community to be; set goals for realizing that vision; establish
indicators for measuring progress; identify the resources needed
to reach the goals; and implement actions that will advance them.
Action 1. Community-based coalitions can create educational,
media, and civic journalism campaigns to encourage participation in
civil life and voting, disseminate high-quality information on
community issues, and promote public discussions that will lead to the
resolution of these issues. Coalitions should be as broad
as possible, including industry and business, schools,
newspapers, television and radio stations, community groups, labor,
local government, religious institutions, and organizations working
on social, economic, and environmental issues.
Action 2. As part of the dialogue and planning process,
community-based coalitions can work to draft an economic
development strategy that will fulfill basic human needs by taking advantage
of local and regional opportunities and new economic trends, such
as the opening up of global markets and the improvement of
environmental and communications technologies. Coalitions should
include businesses, employees, unions, chambers of commerce, local
government, community groups, and residents.
Action 3. Federal and state governments in consultation
with local government, the private sector, and nongovernmental
organizations should support local planning that integrates
economic development, environmental protection, and social equity
concerns and should promote public participation in planning efforts.
For example, they should reaffirm the value of such planning
through the reauthorization of the Intermodal Surface Transportation
Efficiency Act, and they should apply the requirements of such
planning to federal and state funding and incentives for economic
development, housing, transportation, and environmental programs.
Policy recommendation 2
Open and Inclusive Decisionmaking
Encourage and facilitate open and inclusive
Action 1. All levels government should ensure substantial
opportunity for public participation in all phases of planning
and decisionmaking to allow those affected by decisions to have a
voice in the outcome. Governments should create new methods and
expand existing ones for getting the public involved in planning and
development decisions, as well as in the legislative process,
taking steps to ensure that historically under-represented groups are
For example, regional planning organizations, metropolitan
planning organizations (MPOs), zoning boards, and other government
entities that are active in the design of communities should take
responsibility for ensuring that local residents have a
substantive opportunity to participate in crucial early planning and
Action 2. All levels of government, but especially local
government, should identify impediments to greater public involvement
in decisionmaking such as language barriers and lack of child
care and transportation and develop strategies to overcome them.
Action 3. Businesses can
encourage their managers and employees to
participate in community affairs and can establish
advisory boards to recruit residents to provide
input to the company on issues relevant to the community.
In addition, businesses can give employees flexibility
to increase the time that they and their families
can devote to community activities.
Action 4. While working to minimize all
unacceptable environmental risks, all levels of
government should work with community groups and the
private sector to ensure that environmental risks and
benefits are more equitably distributed among and
Policy recommendation 3
Access to Information on Sustainable Communities
Increase the ability of communities to improve their
economic, environmental, and social well-being by improving access to
usable information about sustainable communities initiatives,
and disseminating that information to interested parties and
Action 1. Institutions and individuals with knowledge or
expertise in sustainable community development should coordinate
efforts to share and provide information to communities, decisionmakers,
and other relevant constituencies. They should explore ways to
link currently existing databases; coordinate technical assistance;
co-sponsor conferences and other meetings; take advantage of
emerging communications technologies, such as the Internet; and provide
easily accessible points of entry for those interested in
These institutions and individuals include government
agencies, elected officials, nonprofit organizations, businesses, academic
institutions, economic development and environmental
organizations, community groups, and professional associations (from planners,
architects, and engineers to ecologists and economists).
Action 2. All levels of government should improve the
user-friendliness of government-collected information and technologies
to help communities use them to solve problems and to educate the
public. Potentially useful information includes census data,
Toxics Release Inventory data, other right-to-know statistics, public
investment and lending information, economic statistics, and
data derived from remote sensing and satellite technologies.
Potentially useful technologies for manipulating this data include
mapping tools, geographic information systems (GIS), and customized GIS
application databases (e.g., LandView II).
Action 3. Community-based coalitions should work with
companies, federal and state regulatory agencies, and health risk assessors
to develop profiles of neighborhoods that are environmentally
high-risk as a tool for setting pollution abatement priorities.
Policy recommendation 4
Cooperation Among Communities
communities within a region to work together on issues
that transcend their political boundaries.
PRESIDENT'S COUNCIL ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES TASK FORCE REPORT
Action 1. Communities should collaborate to identify,
prioritize, and learn about key problems in their region; develop a vision
of what they want their region to be like; set goals for
realizing that vision; establish benchmarks for measuring progress
toward these goals; ascertain the resources needed to reach the goals;
and determine the actions that will advance them.
Action 2. States, counties, and municipalities should
collaborate to create a system of regional accounts that measures the costs
and benefits of local land use, development, and economic trends,
and show how these benefits and costs are distributed in the short
and long run. The federal government should work with state and
local governments to ensure that federal statistical resources are
available and used appropriately to support the measurement of
benefits and costs.
Action 3. Federal and state governments should provide
incentives for communities to collaborate on issues that transcend local
political jurisdictions, such as transportation, land use,
economic development, and air and water quality. Federal and state
agencies responsible for environmental protection, economic development,
land use, and transportation policies should work with one or more
selected geographic areas to develop integrated planning
and development activities, and to require region-wide cooperation
in these areas.
Policy recommendation 5
Building Design and Rehabilitation
Streamline processes and encourage design and rehabilitation of new and existing buildings to use energy and materials efficiently, enhance public health,
preserve historic and natural settings, and contribute to a sense of community identity;
and discourage zoning and construction practices that do the opposite.
Action 1. Builders, architects, and engineers should design
new buildings and rehabilitate existing ones to be healthy,
livable, resource-efficient, and adaptable to new uses. These
buildings should feature energy efficiency, daylighting, non-toxic
recycled and recyclable construction materials, and designs that promote
human interaction. They should also recognize the importance
of historic preservation capturing the resource of the embodied
energy of existing buildings and promote zero-waste building practices.
Action 2. Builders and landscape architects should
encourage building design that recognizes the integration between the
built and natural environments through landscaping techniques such as
the use of native plants, which can reduce the need for
fertilizers, pesticides, and water; and shade trees which can reduce energy use.
Action 3. Federal, state,
and local governments should work with builders,
architects, developers, contractors, materials
manufacturers, service providers, community groups, and
others to streamline regulations that allow
builders and architects to implement the
above-outlined sustainable building and
construction practices. They should publish or otherwise
make available information about model building codes, zoning
ordinances, and flexibility for better building permit
approval processes for residential and commercial
buildings so that local decisionmakers can adapt them
to reflect local conditions and values.
Action 4. Lenders, community groups, and historic
preservation groups can work together to identify financing for
retrofitting buildings to be energy-efficient and for rehabilitating
historic buildings. Local governments can enact ordinances to preserve
historic buildings, adapting them for new uses whenever possible,
and removing incentives for demolishing them.
Action 5. Educational institutions at all levels,
particularly technical and graduate schools, should provide
interdisciplinary training to encourage engineers, architects, landscape artists,
and other design professionals to integrate sustainable building
and construction practices, as outlined above, into common use.
Policy recommendation 6
Design new communities and improve existing ones to use land and
infrastructure efficiently, promote mixed-use and mixed-income development, retain public
open space, and provide diverse transportation options to integrate the places in
which people live and work with the natural environment.
Action 1. Local jurisdictions should structure or revise
local zoning regulations and permit approval processes to encourage
mixed-used, mixed-income development co-located with
diverse transportation options in areas that are already developed and
especially where transit infrastructure is already in place.
Action 2. Federal and state governments and the private
sector should form teams to help local jurisdictions reduce sprawl,
and design developments that are resource-efficient and livable.
Teams should include design and financing professionals,
engineers, transportation specialists, land use experts, economic
development and energy-efficiency experts, retailers, natural resource
managers, and others.
Action 3. The federal government should change federal tax
policy to provide the same tax treatment of employee parking benefits
and employee benefits relating to the use of mass transit, walking,
and bike riding. For example, employers currently receive a tax
deduction for providing parking and most do not charge for
employee parking. While a much smaller tax-free benefit (less than half
the amount) is also available for transit, no such incentive exists
for those who neither drive nor take transit.
Action 4. The federal government should give credit toward
attainment of national Clean Air Act Amendment ambient
air-quality standards to communities that lower traffic by adopting
zoning, building code, and other changes that encourage more efficient
land use patterns that reduce air pollution from motor vehicles.
Policy recommendation 7
Reduce Sprawl and Promote Smarter Growth
Reduce sprawl and promote smarter geographical growth of existing communities
and the siting of new ones to enhance economic opportunities and meet future needs
while conserving open space and respecting the carrying capacity of the
Action 1. The federal government should redirect federal
policies that encourage low-density sprawl to foster investment in
existing communities. For example, it should encourage shifts in
transportation spending toward transit, highway maintenance and repair,
and expansion of transit options rather than new highway or
beltway construction. It should also change the capital gain provision
in section 1034 of the Internal Revenue Service code to
allow homesellers to defer tax liability even if they purchase a new
home of lesser value. Currently the code allows deferred tax
liability on capital gain realized during ownership only if homesellers
purchase another home priced at least equal to the one sold.
Action 2. Federal agencies should work with states and
communities to develop ways to evaluate the costs of infrastructure
in greenfield or relatively undeveloped areas to examine subsidies
and to correct market incentives in the financing of capital costs
of infrastructure, such as sewers and utilities, for development
of land bordering metropolitan areas. In addition, local
governments and counties can work together to use community impact analyses
and other information on the environmental carrying capacity of a
region as the foundation for land use planning and
Federal and state governments should also help local
governments develop a metropolitan or regional planning instrument to
evaluate alternative modes of development, accounting for the present
value and costs of infrastructure, transportation inefficiency, land
consumption, provision of social services, environmental
quality, congestion, and fiscal impacts, as well as the impact on access
to jobs, services, open space, and social and cultural amenities.
Action 3. All levels of government, policy experts,
residents, and community organizations can work together to conduct
analyses of how public resources for infrastructure are spent to
benefit different communities for example, comparing the center
city, outer suburbs, and rural areas. These analyses can be used to
reorient priorities, if necessary, and direct future expenditures.
Action 4. Local governments and counties can create
community partnerships to develop regional open space networks and
urban growth boundaries as part of a regional framework to
discourage sprawl development that threatens a region's environmental
carrying capacity. These partnerships can conserve open space through
acquisition of land and/or development rights. For example,
public water departments can budget to acquire land necessary to
protect public water supplies. Private land trusts can expand their
acquisition of wetlands or other valuable open space.
Policy Recommendation 8
Creation of Strong, Diversified Local Economies
Promote economic development strategies that capitalize on unique local attributes and on technological advances in energy and resource efficiency, to create jobs and build strong, diversified local economies.
Action 1. Communities can conduct an assessment of their economic, natural, and human resources to identify their comparative advantages and niche in the larger regional, national, and global economies. Ideally, this inventory and assessment would be conducted as part of a public dialogue and planning process within the community and the region.
Action 2. Local governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations with relevant expertise should work together to create recycling-related manufacturing in conjunction with community-based projects to collect and recycle municipal solid waste. All levels of government should support these efforts by providing information and incentives, and by supporting pilot projects and leveraging their funding with public-private partnerships.
Action 3. Federal and state agencies should assist communities that want to create eco-industrial parks that enhance economic efficiency and promote environmental responsibility. They can do so by reducing regulatory impediments to the siting of eco-industrial parks that produce low levels of pollution through a zero-waste strategy in areas with mixed-use zoning; sharing information on similar efforts; and funding pilot projects.
Action 4. National business associations, large corporations, environmental groups, and federal and state agencies can work together to promote best practices and techniques in the areas of pollution prevention, materials reuse, and energy efficiency to small- and medium-sized companies.
Action 5. Federal agencies should help communities with former military facilities to convert them to new uses using principles of sustainable development. They can do so by bringing together development experts from multiple agencies and providing information on the range of alternatives for redevelopment.
Action 6. The federal government and businesses should improve working conditions. Government, for example, should set an adequate minimum wage and proper health and safety standards; and businesses could provide greater flexibility to telecommute, set work schedules to provide more time for community participation and/or parenting, and provide assistance with day care.
Action 7. Federal, state, and local government should support job creation and minimize large disparities in the distribution of wealth through tax strategies, health and welfare programs, and other government policies.
Policy recommendation 9
Basic Education, Job Training, and Lifelong Learning
Expand and coordinate education and job training programs to allow all people to expand their knowledge and improve their ability to adapt to the changing job market and participate in community affairs as informed, educated citizens.
Action 1. Businesses, teachers' unions, school officials, students, religious institutions, and local government within a community should develop training programs to ensure that workers have the necessary skills to take advantage of current and future economic development opportunities. They should work together to integrate current training programs, and they should marshal funding from the private sector, schools, and government to fill gaps in these programs. In addition to school curriculum, the programs include school-to-work, community service, summer jobs programs, apprenticeships, and job corps opportunities.
Action 2. Community-based coalitions should work together to invest in education and to link education and the community by sponsoring youth, tutoring, and other programs; directly funding projects; and providing in-kind and volunteer support. These programs should also focus on the needs of local employers.
Action 3. Federal and state governments should help people pursue education and job training throughout their lives by providing tax deductions on tuition, low-interest student loans, and other kinds of financial assistance.
Action 4. Federal and state governments, the private sector, and local communities should promote widespread public access to computers and computer skills training.
Policy recommendation 10
Cleanup and Redevelopment of Brownfield Sites
Create partnerships with community residents, environmental organizations, community development corporations, lenders, businesses, and all levels of government to clean up, redevelop, or stabilize brownfield sites by eliminating barriers and creating incentives for environmental cleanup and reorienting existing state and federal economic development funding and programs to include these sites.
Action 1. All levels of government should continue to encourage investment in brownfields redevelopment by eliminating barriers to and creating incentives for the cleanup and redevelopment of brownfield sites. Current efforts, such as the 1995 EPA Brownfields Initiative, need to continue evolving to work in partnership with diverse parties to clarify important issues and find shared solutions. These issues include: lender liability for cleanup; uncertainties for investors such as consistent and quantifiable cleanup standards, enforceable indemnity agreements, and covenants-not-to-sue; timely and conclusive efforts to detect contamination to allow cleanup and property sales to proceed; realistic cleanup standards appropriate to future uses of sites; and strengthening local workforce development.
Action 2. All levels of government should work with the mortgage bankers and other members of the financial community as well as with community groups to reexamine policies in light of the substantial progress that has been made by EPA and the Congress to respond to the lending community's concerns. Development of innovative financing tools that make inexpensive, renewable capital readily available for brownfields investment should be encouraged.
Action 3. State and local governments should be encouraged to develop revolving loan funds for cleanup activities at brownfield sites. Federal agencies should help provide seed money to capitalize a limited number of state or local revolving loan funds to further encourage their development and use. Federal agencies should continue to provide technical assistance to communities to assess what efforts are needed to inventory, assess, clean up, and redevelop brownfield sites.
Action 4. The federal government should assure that economic development programs that were in existence prior to the emergence of brownfields issues make brownfields projects eligible for those programs' funds.
Policy recommendation 11
Financing Sustainable Communities
Create partnerships to remove barriers to and expand access for financing innovative community initiatives.
Action 1. The federal government should work with the housing finance community and with transportation and land use experts to further study, develop, and test pilot a location-efficient mortgage program that will be refined and eventually implemented nationally.
Action 2. The federal government should lead a public/private sector initiative to identify and end barriers to financing mixed-use, transit-oriented development. Participants should include: developers, architects, planners, local government officials, and development finance experts (banks, pension and insurance investors, public corporations which provide secondary markets, and community development corporations).
Action 3. The federal government should expand the home mortgage tax deduction to apply to mixed-use, multifamily units. It should also expand low income housing finance programs to include these facilities.
Action 4. The financing community, policy experts, and all levels of government should work together to establish underwriting criteria and a broader secondary market for loans for buildings retrofitting, mixed-use development, and businesses that harness environmentally sound technologies.
Policy recommendation 12
Encourage citizens, law enforcement, and governments to work together to make communities safer.
Action 1. Community-based coalitions — including residents, community groups, and businesses — should work with police to mobilize neighborhoods to prevent violence by initiating community meetings, finding and fixing violence hot spots, reclaiming public spaces, and adopting community policing strategies.
Action 2. All levels of government should work to implement gun control measures, including the use of background checks and mandatory waiting periods to help reduce violent gun uses.
Action 3. Community-based coalitions should work together to address disorder issues such as littering, graffiti, and loitering before they lead to criminal activities. Law enforcement officials and local governments should work with residents and businesses to identify opportunities to prevent potential problems such as improving lighting in specific areas, and cleaning up vacant lots.
Policy recommendation 13
Community Environmental Protection Pilots
Explore the feasibility and effectiveness of alternative environmental regulatory systems through community-level pilot programs that set performance-based standards that are more stringent than existing environmental standards, and that give businesses greater flexibility in meeting the new standards.
Action 1. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should encourage communities to develop pilot programs for attaining one or more environmental standards that are more stringent than those set by EPA. Participants in the programs — including but not limited to industry, government agencies, and community groups — would set the standards; and would work with regulators to ensure and verify that they are met.
Action 2. EPA and state environmental protection agencies should accelerate efforts to conduct a series of demonstration projects to assess the benefits and costs of alternative regulatory approaches.
For example, projects could demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of setting more stringent standards while giving polluters longer time periods to achieve compliance. Another project could research and work to demonstrate the benefits (if any) of environmental performance of an entire facility rather than on separate air, water and soil requirements. Such a project might stipulate that environmental gains for an entire facility exceed what would have been achieved through source-by-source or media-specific regulations. Working with the private sector and nongovernmental organizations, the federal government should review and evaluate the lessons learned from these demonstration projects. Based on the success of the first round of demonstration projects, a second set of projects should be launched within two years.
Policy recommendation 14
Pollution Prevention Partnerships
Increase public-private pollution-prevention efforts at the community level.
Action 1. Regulators, businesses, labor unions, community groups, and policy experts can create partnerships to implement programs that encourage pollution prevention.
Action 2. Community-based coalitions can regularly gather data on pollution in a community and combine it with population data and relevant health statistics, including diet and lifestyle choices, to reach agreement on what programs are needed to lower local health risks.
Policy recommendation 15
Prevention and Natural Disaster Reduction
Shift the focus of the federal disaster relief system from cure to prevention.
Action 1. All levels of government should identify and eliminate government incentives, such as subsidized flood plain insurance and subsidized utilities, that encourage development in areas vulnerable to natural hazards.
Action 2. Accurate risk assessments can facilitate development of safe land use policies and management approaches, especially in coastal and riverine environments, and near fault zones and other geologically active sites.
Action 3. Community-based coalitions can develop improved building codes and related enforcement, and create strategic plans for design and maintenance of community infrastructure, and support appropriate agriculture and forestry practices. For example, local regulatory agencies can adopt more rigorous building codes, to ensure that new construction minimizes the impacts of floods, hurricanes, and other natural disasters.
Action 4. Federal agencies, perhaps through a specific interagency effort, should incorporate sustainable re-development principles into the federal disaster relief system. The interagency group should work closely with state, local, and private organizations to create a unified approach within established disaster relief mechanisms. They can package technical assistance programs from existing federal, state, and local programs, utilities, and other public and private resources.