Sunday, January 31, 2010

A short introduction to sustainable work

'Human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development'

(first principle, UNCED 1992).

Global reports for sustainable developement

  • Report of United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, Stockholm, 1972
  • World Conservation Strategy, 1980, UNEP
  • Process of preparation of the Environmental Perspective to the Year 2000 and Beyond, 1983 UNEP, from this the report;
  • Our common future, Brundtland Report, UNEP 1987
  • Agenda 21 at Earth Summit; United Nations Conference on Environmental and Development (UNCED), 1992
  • Millenium Goals, Millennium Declaration, Millennium Summit, 2000
  • Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development, Johannesburg summit. Rio +10, 2002

It started in Stockholm Sweden with the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, 1972. In the report, we can read; "The need for more effective and less wasteful utilization of natural resources was underlined by several speakers" Stockholm Conference 1972. In 1980 UNEP, IUCN and WWF gave out the report World Conservation Strategy: Living Resource Conservation for Sustainable Development 1980. The report is full with pictures and facts about ecology, can be read here; World Conservation Strategy. Just three years later he Brundtland Commission, formally the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) was held, "to propose long-term environmental strategies for achieving sustainable development to the year 2000 and beyond". Link here; Process of preparation of the Environmental Perspective to the Year 2000 and Beyond.

The well-known "Our common future" or just "Brundland report" came out 1987 as a result from the conference. In this report was one of the first and must common used definition of the term sustainable development:

development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs

(get the Brundtland Report here at Center for a World in Balance)

From same site; The Brundtland report declaried that population growth was no longer seen as the major threat to the harmony of the planet. Almost all of it was among poorer people. And it was not they who were consuming the Earth's supply of fossil fuels, warming the globe with their carbon emissions, depleting its ozone layer with their CFCs, poisoning soil and water with their chemicals, or wreaking ecological havoc with their oil spills. In fact, their consumption of the world's resources was minute compared to that of the industrialized world (Center for a World in Balance).

From this we can see a global consern were raised. Doyle and McEachern means that much of what happened in Stockholm 1972, in the production of the World Conservation Strategy in 1980 and Brundtland Report of 1987, focused on sharing an appreciation of common problems and the array of policy instrument that can be used to respond- a sharing of awareness and experience. [..] Genuinely global problems require genuinely global solutions (Environment and Politics, 2008).

The biggest and well known conference for sustainable future was in 1992, Earth Summit held from UNCED, also known as the Rio Summit, Rio Conference, Earth Summit and Eco '92. From this conference we got Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, Agenda 21, Convention on Biological Diversity, Forest Principles and Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Program of Agenda 21 emphasizes that it is important to involve all citizens locally, for example in Sweden, each municipality shall have an Agenda 21 office.

The Millennium Declaration was adopted during the Millennium Summit 2000, in this document the Millennium Goals where published and signed. 8 Millenium Goals with 21 targets, that we have to meet until 2015.

10 years after Rio Summit, 2002 Johannesburg summit was held in South Africa, the conference was a follow up from Stockholm and Rio. Read report here.

Sustainable work is now in different levels, a large part of them from individuals and organisations, but what do we see from those global reports?

Why sustainable development is complex, can be well understood from an example of Lee et al (Global Sustainable development in the 21st century). He mean that if me mix development debate with environmental debate we get sustainable development, an even more complex debate.

Development debate

  • north/south
  • right/left
  • market/state
  • hard/ soft

Environmental debate

  • nature/people
  • global/local
  • market/non-market
  • hard/soft

Sustainable development debate

  • north/south
  • nature/people
  • global/local market
  • civil/society/state
  • hard/soft

So, well. What should we do with reports and facts. Information and conferences.

Something seems to be missing. Were is the doing part?

The world conservation union (IUCN) made a report 2006 The Future of Sustainability. Re-thinking Environment and Development in the Twenty-first Century. Can be read here. Haven't read it my self yet. But I might know, they have a point.


Other interesting definitions of the term sustainable development are listed below:
(Copied from Sustainable Works org)

  • Meeting current needs - environmental, economic and social - without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same.
    Sustainable City Plan, Santa Monica
  • Improving the quality of life while living within the carrying capacity of supporting ecosystems.
    Sharing Nature's Interest, Mathis Wackernagel
  • Long-term cultural, economic, and environmental health and vitality.
    Sustainable Seattle
  • The integration of economic prosperity, environmental health and social equity into viable systems, which will function effectively in our common future.
  • Sustainability is characterized by an emphasis on preserving the environment, developing strong peaceful relationships between people and nations, and an emphasis on equitable distribution of wealth.
    Coop America
  • a) A method of harvesting or using a resource so that resource is not depleted or permanently damaged . b) Of or relating to a lifestyle involving the use of sustainable methods.
    Webster's Dictionary
  • Sustainability is related to the quality of life in a community -- whether the economic, social and environmental systems that make up the community are providing a healthy, productive, meaningful life for all community residents, present and future.
    Sustainable Measures
  • Sustainable business: a business that provides goods and services, and/or has incorporated into its daily operations practices that result in cleaner air and water, less waste and pollution, conservation of energy and natural resources, less traffic, improved quality of life for residents and workers, and contribute to a strong and viable local economy.
    Sustainable City Plan, Santa Monica

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