Campaign for Sustainability: Introduction

Why do we need a national sustainability strategy?

Our country and world confront a major economic crisis as well as social and environmental trends threatening the health and security of citizens today and future generations.

We need to reverse this situation with strategies and actions that will improve the quality of life for everyone.

The Campaign for a National Sustainability Strategy is a collective effort by citizens around the country to encourage our leaders in Washington and the states to move away from short-term fixes and instead move towards a long-range vision and plan for our nation's future. We look to a future no longer tied to the moorings of the kind of 20th century short-sightedness which created these crises.

In our Open Letter to President Obama we pointed out the need for this Strategy -- an effort requiring different thinking and methods from those of the past. President Clinton began the process with the series of town meetings and consultations across the country under the President's Council on Sustainable Development. Other countries such as the UK and other industrialized nations as well as developing countries have already taken this step, recognizing the need for sustainable solutions to 21st century challenges. It is now time a new American  Sustainability Council that can transform ideas into practice.

What is a "sustainability strategy?"

The concept of "sustainability" means different things to different people. Historically, it is an idea which officially entered the American language in 1992 at the "Earth Summit" conference. The most well-known definition (from the "Brundtland report") emphasizes a focus on both equity (meeting people's needs) and long-range impacts of current behavior and decisions on future generations.

Another dimension of "sustainability" presents it as a framework for choices and decisions, involving a careful balancing of environmental, social and economic priorities and viewpoints -- with the ultimate goal of improving the quality of life for everyone.

Another popular definition of "sustainability" is simply as another word for "environmental protection" or "green" -- as in "environmental sustainability." However, in this Campaign, the kind of sustainability we hope to see addresses not simply environmental needs, but also the need for economic security and livelihoods, as well as a socially just approach to the many different types of people and communities making up this country and world.

What can a national sustainability strategy do?

A national sustainability strategy can provide the means to create a sustainable economy that will improve the quality of life for everyone by establishing a coherent framework for economic, social and environmental policies. It can provide policy coherence across the different governmental departments focusing not simply on immediate problems but on the promise of America's future.

What can you do?

This Campaign needs your help to succeed. It needs the support of citizens, businesses, educators, community leaders, youth and elderly, workers and trade unions, as well as the President, members of the Administration and members of Congress -- in short, everyone who cares about America's future and the world we leave to our children.

How you can help this Campaign for a National Sustainability Strategy:

  • Tell the President and your representatives in Congress that we need to move beyond the short-term fixes and towards a long-term view and strategy. Ask them what steps they are taking to ensure a sustainable future for America and the world.
  • Raise the cause of sustainability as a top national priority with the people and organizations you know.
  • Inform your local media and elected representatives of the Campaign and what sustainability means to the health, security and future of your community.
  • Join and participate in the Citizens Network for Sustainable Development, sharing your ideas and helping us convince our leaders to support this Campaign.

 

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