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10 National Goals to Put the United
States On A Path Toward Sustainable Development
The road to sustainable development begins with national goals. Below are 10 draft goals that express the shared aspirations of the President's Council on Sustainable Development (PCSD). Accompanying them are "Indicators of Progress," yardsticks to m
easure progress toward each goal. In most cases, the PCSD indicators point in a general direction but do not call for exact targets or milestones. In a few cases, the indicators are new concepts that are not now easy to measure and require more work bef
ore they can be used as true yardsticks.
A HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT
Ensure that every person can enjoy the benefits of clean air, clean water, and a healthy environment.
Possible Indicators of Progress: Measurements of a healthy environment are usually specific to a medium (air, water, land, food), or to a region. The PCSD feels that existing tools lack adequate measures of how environmental and health risks are distrib
uted among economic and racial sectors of society.
Toxic Materials: Decrease in the amount of long-lived and other toxic materials released into the environment as pollutants or waste.
Life Expectancy: Increase in the life expectancy rate, covering various economic and demographic groups.
Infant Mortality: Decrease in infant mortality rates, developed for various economic and demographic groups.
Safe Drinking Water: Decrease in the percentage of the U.S. population whose drinking water does not meet national safe drinking water standards.
Clean Air: Decrease in the percentage of population living in cities that fail to meet air quality standards for one or more pollutants.
Sustain a healthy U.S. economy, which grows sufficiently to create meaningful jobs, reduce poverty, and provide the opportunity for a high quality of life for all in an increasingly competitive world.
Possible Indicators of Progress: Together with the more traditional measures of economic prosperity, such as the Gross Domestic Product and the unemployment rate, it is also useful to understand how wealth is maintained and distributed. The following in
dicators attempt to measure how economic prosperity is protected for future generations as well as how it is shared among different sectors today.
Economic Performance: Growth in GDP per capita.
Income Equity: Ratio of the income of the top 20 percent of the U.S. population compared with that of the bottom 20 percent.
Poverty: Decrease in the number of children living below the poverty line.
Savings Rate: Increase in the per-capita savings rate.
Environmental Wealth: Development by the federal government of new measures that reflect resource depletion and environmental costs.
Productivity: Increase in the level of per-capita production per hour worked.
Ensure that all Americans are afforded justice and have the opportunity to achieve material, environmental, and social well-being.
Possible Indicators of Progress: Democratic nations have long wrestled to ensure that citizens are treated in a fair and just manner. In the United States, equal protection under the law is a constitutionally sanctioned right endowed upon all Americans.
Measuring how well a society allows for equal opportunities throughout its population is extremely complex. Equally challenging is measuring "generational equity"--how well the current generation safeguards future opportunities for its children and gra
ndchildren. Instead of attempting to measure such fundamental ideas in just four or five specific indicators, the PCSD has attempted to weave the concept of equity into each element of its work.
CONSERVATION OF NATURE
Protect and restore the health and biological diversity of ecosystems and ensure the availability of natural resources for future generations.
Possible Indicators of Progress: Measuring the health of natural systems is difficult because they are complex, vary over time and space, and have effects that can be local, regional and/or global. Most of the following indicators focus on local and reg
ional systems, reflecting the Council's work on watersheds, communities, and regional ecosystems. Additional measures are needed to reflect how well the nation is contributing toward worldwide efforts to protect global resources.
Vulnerable Ecosystems: Decrease in the number of ecosystems that are vulnerable due to degradation caused by land use patterns. This includes resources such as forests, grasslands, wetlands, and coastal areas.
Conservation Status: Decrease in the amount of lost natural systems or number of species. This includes:
Soil loss due to erosion and chemical/biological changes in natural systems and other lands such as agricultural lands;
Loss of wetlands;
Number of threatened and endangered species;
Amount of remaining old growth forests in the United States; and
Number of rivers listed as threatened or endangered.
Nutrients and Toxics: Decrease in the amount of released nutrients and toxic pollutants that endanger or harm waters.
Exotic Species: Decrease in the ecological risks caused due to the introduction and spread of exotic species.
Create an ethic of stewardship that encourages individuals and institutions to take responsibility for the economic, environmental, and social consequences of their actions.
Possible Indicators of Progress: Wise management of the wealth of natural resources within the United States is the key to ensuring that they will be available for future generations. Measuring resource use is an important way of knowing how efficiently
they are being used in order to meet the material needs of daily life and economic prosperity.
Material Consumption: Decrease in the amount of material consumed per capita, based upon the type of material.
Material and Residual Accumulation: Decrease in the amount of materials released into the environment through processing loss and dispersion.
Virgin Material Use: Decrease in the amount of raw or virgin material used, per dollar of GDP, by sector.
Renewable Material Use: Increased market share of renewable, recoverable, and recycled materials used.
Water Use: Decrease in the net amount of water used compared with its regeneration or recharge capacity.
Develop communities that generate educational and economic opportunities for all residents and promote awareness of and public participation in governance while enhancing a safe and healthy environment.
Possible Indicators of Progress: Local values and priorities shape the characteristics that contribute to strong and stable communities. However, thriving communities across the nation share many common traits. So do communities at risk. As a result,
indicators for communities need to allow for diversity among communities while still recognizing national priorities.
Violent Crime: Increase in the number of people who feel safe in their neighborhood.
Public Parks: Increase in the amount of urban green space or park space.
Public Participation: Increase in the percentage of registered voters who cast ballots in the past two national elections.
Investment in Future Generations: Increase in the amount of community resources dedicated to children, including maternal care, childhood development, and K-12 education.
Transportation Patterns: Increase in the number of average mass transit miles per capita.
Enhance the opportunity and ability of citizens, businesses, and communities to participate in and influence the natural resource, environmental, and economic decisions that affect them.
Possible Indicators of Progress: Democratic societies rely upon an engaged population of diverse individuals and institutions. Sometimes this leads to public discourse that is based more upon competition and divisiveness rather than on cooperation and c
onsensus. Tracking how free and pluralistic democracies encourage cooperative decision making while still allowing for individual leadership and creativity will require drawing upon knowledge beyond many traditional paradigms. The best measures may come
from studying what characteristics contribute to building community values, public trust, and government responsiveness. These are not easy concepts to reflect, and so indicators will evolve as thinking in this area becomes more concrete and precise.
Social Capital: Develop new measures that examine citizen engagement and public trust.
Citizen participation: Develop methods that measure community participation in such civic activities as professional organizations, parent teacher associations, sporting leagues, and charity work.
Collaborations: Develop methods that measure characteristics that contribute to successful civic collaboration when developing public policies.
Move toward stabilization of U.S. population.
Possible Indicators of Progress: Along with the more traditional population measurements, such as estimating growth trends and carrying capacity, it is also necessary to study the role of women within society. Evidence has shown that as the health and s
tatus of women improve, population pressures also become more manageable. Therefore, indicators of progress in this area must also measure the social and economic status of women.
Population Growth: Decrease in the rate of population growth in the United States and the world.
Status of Women: Improved measures of the national and global social and economic status of women.
Unintended Pregnancies: Decrease in the number of unintended pregnancies in the United States.
Teen Pregnancies: Decrease in the number of teenage pregnancies in the United States.
Take a leadership role in the development of global sustainable development policies and adopt standards of conduct and U.S. trade and foreign policies that further the achievement of sustainability.
Possible Indicators of Progress: By its sheer size, the United States has tremendous influence over the economies and resources of the entire planet. Our nation rests upon a tradition of global awareness that has encouraged leadership and responsibility
. While indicators for global leadership could come in many forms, the following focus on the role of the federal government.
Treaty Commitments: Adherence to U.S. commitments under international environmental and economic treaties.
International Assistance: Level of U.S. international assistance, including Official Development Assistance (federal money dedicated to international aid for developing nations) as a percentage of GDP.
Environmental Assistance: U.S. contribution to the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and other environmentally targeted development aid.
Ensure that all Americans have access to formal education and lifelong learning opportunities that will prepare them for meaningful work, a high quality of life, and an understanding of the concepts involved in sustainable development.
Possible Indicators of Progress: Education for sustainable development is lifelong through its integration into the formal and non-formal education system, including teacher education, continuing education, curriculum development and worker training.
Information Access: Number of communities with infrastructure in place that allows easy access to government information, public and private research, and community right-to-know documents.
Curriculum Development: New measurements of evaluating curricula, material, and training, based upon their adherence to the principles of sustainable development.
National Standards: Increase in the number of school systems that have adopted voluntary learning standards for K-12 similar to the standards developed under National Goals 2000.
Community Participation: Number of school systems and communities that have formed programs for lifelong learning both through formal and non-formal learning institutions.