The President's Council on Sustainable Development (PCSD) was established on June 29, 1993 by Executive Order 12852. The Council adopted the definition of sustainable development as stated in the original Brundtland Commission report: development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The Council is a ground breaking partnership drawing leaders from industry; government; and environmental, labor, and civil rights organizations. Its charge is to develop bold, new approaches to integrate economic and environmental policies.
President Clinton appointed Jonathan Lash, President of World Resources Institute, and David Buzzelli, Vice President and Corporate Director of Environment, Health and Safety and Public Affairs at The Dow Chemical Company as Co-chairs of the Council.
The Council's mission is to advise the President on sustainable development.
Activities--Phase IPursuant to its mission, the Council established eight task forces focusing on:
- Eco-Efficiency--identified models of sustainable manufacturing, pollution prevention, and product stewardship that will enhance recommendations for policy change.
- Energy and Transportation--developed long- and short-term policies to contribute to a more sustainable energy future.
- Natural Resources Management and Protection--developed guidelines to better manage and protect our nation's natural resources.
- Principles, Goals, and Definitions--articulated sustainable development principles and goals.
- Population and Consumption--identified the impact of population and consumption patterns on sustainable development and recommend actions to address these issues.
- Public Linkage, Dialogue, and Education--worked to foster public dialogue and develop educational outreach activities.
- Sustainable Agriculture--examined and made recommendations relating to sustainable agriculture, practices, and systems.
- Sustainable Communities--explored the obstacles and opportunities for sustainable development at the community level.
The Council and its task forces met for two years and the work culminated in the report, Sustainable America: A New Consensus for Prosperity, Opportunity, and a Healthy Environment for the Future.
Activities--Phase IIUpon receipt of the report in March, 1996, President Clinton asked the Council to continue its work in order to begin implementing the recommendations made in the report. This implementation phase is currently underway. Its objectives are to:
- launch a few Council-initiated projects that implement recommendations made in Sustainable America;
- highlight ongoing activities in the U.S. and internationally that are consistent with the Council's recommendations;
- "get the word out" about Sustainable America to business, non-governmental organizations, all levels of government, and America's communities; and
- prepare a report to the President on the status of implementation and recommendations on next steps for the Council.
Implementation of the Council's recommendations was handled by three new task forces:
- Innovative Local/State/Regional Approaches--deals with recommendations pertaining to biodiversity conservation, natural resources information, ecosystem integrity, incentives for stewardship, community-driven strategic planning, collaborative regional planning, environmental economic development, community growth management, restoration of fisheries, and community design. Also working on four initiatives: 1) Joint Center on Sustainable Communities, 2) Pacific Northwest Regional Council, 3) Metropolitan Strategies, and 4) Eco-Industrial Parks.
- New National Opportunities--deals with recommendations pertaining to increased cost effectiveness of existing regulatory system, alternative performance-based regulatory system, extended product responsibility, fiscal and subsidy reform, and better science for improved decision making. Working on three initiatives: 1) Extended Product Responsibility, 2) Lessons Learned from Collaborative Approaches, and 3) Eco-Industrial Parks.
- International Leadership--deals with recommendations pertaining to international leadership. Working on two initiatives: 1) Contact with other National Councils on Sustainable Development and 2) the Rio + 5 Meeting.
Finally, working groups have been formed to:
- create indicators of the progress of the United States in moving toward sustainable development;
- increase collaboration between agencies on information about the materials and energy used in the United States;
- promote and coordinate education for sustainability across the federal government and help implement recommendations pertaining to education; and
- review the policies and programs of federal agencies and identify practices that are consistent with the Council's definition of sustainability.
Next StepsThe President has extended the Council through 1998. Stay tuned for further details.
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