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A New Consensus for the Prosperty, Opportunity and a Healthy Environment for the Future
Table of Contents
The Council believed that it was important to look to the future and
articulate a vision of what is desirable and possible. It sought to
develop a set of common goals and beliefs as the foundation for its
policy recommendations. This was critical to achieving consensus about
policies that would help realize its goals.
The Council adopted the Brundtland Commission's definition of sustainable
development. The vision statement articulates the Council's broad concept
of the benefits of sustainability for the nation.
This is a set of fundamental beliefs that Council
members share and that provide the foundation for its recommendations.
President Clinton asked the Council to recommend a national action
strategy for sustainable development at a time when Americans are
confronted with new challenges that have global ramifications. The
Council concluded that in order to meet the needs of the present while
ensuring that future generations have the same opportunities, the United
States must change by moving from conflict to collaboration and adopting
stewardship and individual responsibility as tenets by which to live.
National Goals Toward Sustainable Development
This common set of goals emerged from the Council's vision. These goals
express in concrete terms the elements of sustainability. Alongside the
goals are suggested indicators that can be used to help measure progress
toward achieving them.
Building A New Framework for A New Century
Future progress requires that the United States broaden its commitment to
environmental protection to embrace the essential components of
sustainable development: environmental health, economic prosperity, and
social equity and well-being. This means reforming the current system of
enviornmental management and building a new and efficient framework based
on performance, flexibility linked to accountability, extended product
responsibility, tax and subsidty reform, and market incentives.
Information and Education
Information and education, in both formal and nonformal spheres, have a
tremendous potential for increasing citizen awareness and ability to
engage in decisions affecting their lives. Key to this strategy is
managing information better, expanding access to the decision process,
measuring progress toward societal goals more comprehensively, and
incorporating accounting measures that educate and enable decisionmakers
and individuals to make decisions that are more economically,
environmentally, and socially sustainable. Additionally, the country's
formal education system must be reformed to better address
sustainability, and nonformal education forums and mechanisms tapped to
promote opportunities for learning about sustainability.
Creating a better future depends, in part, on the knowledge and
involvement of citizens and on a decision-making process that embraces
and encourages differing perspectives of those affected by governmental
policy. Steps toward a more sustainable future include developing
community-driven strategic planning and collaborative regional planning;
improving community and building design; decreasing sprawl; and creating
strong, diversified local economies while increasing jobs and other
Natural Resources Stewardship
Stewardship is an essential concept that helps to define appropriate
human interaction with the natural world. An ethic of stewardship builds
on collaborative approaches; ecosystem integrity; and incentives in such
areas as agricultural resources management, sustainable forestry,
fisheries, restoration, and biodiversity conservation.
Chapter 6: U.S.
Population and Sustainability
Population growth, especially when coupled with current consumption
patterns, affects sustainability. A sustainable United States is one
where all Americans have access to family palnning and reproductive
health services, women enjoy increased opportunities for education and
employment, and responsible immigration policies are fairly implemented
The United States has both reason and responsibility to develop and carry
out global policies that support sustainable development. Because of its
history and power, the United States is inevitably a leader and needs to
be an active participant in cooperative international efforts to
encourage democracy, support scientific research, and enhance economic
development that preserves the environment and protects human health.