Vision Statement and Principles of Sustainable Development Draft

In April 1994 the President's Council on Sustainable Development released this draft Vision Statement and defining Principle's of Sustainable Development and requested public comment. The comment period was closed on August 15, 1994 with responses from nearly 700 individuals and organizations. The Principles, Goals and Definitions Task Force, with professional assistance, assessed the comments, edits, revisions, and changes made to the draft during the comment period. A report on the findings was delivered at the Council meeting on October 27, 1994. A summary of those findings are available through the PCSD office.

Definition of Sustainable Development

" . . . to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

Our Vision of a Sustainable United States of America

Our vision is of a life-sustaining earth. We are committed to the achievement of a dignified, peaceful, and equitable existence. We believe a sustainable United States will have a growing economy that equitably provides opportunities for satisfying livelihoods and a safe, healthy, high quality of life for current and future generations. Our nation will protect its environment, its natural resource base, and the functions and viability of natural systems on which all life depends.

To achieve that vision:

  1. We must preserve and, where possible, restore the integrity of natural systems -- soils, water, air, and biological diversity -- which sustain both economic prosperity and life itself.

  2. Economic growth, environmental protection, and social equity should be interdependent, mutually reinforcing national goals, and policies to achieve these should be integrated.

  3. Along with appropriate protective measures, market strategies should be used to harness private energies and capital to protect and improve the environment.

  4. Population must be stabilized at a level consistent with the capacity of the earth to support its inhabitants.

  5. Protection of natural systems requires changed patterns of consumption consistent with a steady improvement in the efficiency with which society uses natural resources.

  6. Progress toward the elimination of poverty is essential for economic progress, equity, and environmental quality.

  7. All segments of society should equitably share environmental benefits and burdens.

  8. All economic and environmental decision-making should consider the well-being of future generations, and preserve for them the widest possible range of choices.

  9. Where public health may be adversely affected, or environmental damage may be serious or irreversible, prudent action is required even in the face of scientific uncertainty.

  10. Sustainable development requires fundamental changes in the conduct of government, private institutions, and individuals.

  11. Environmental and economic concerns are central to our national and global security.

  12. Sustainable development is best attained in a society in which free institutions flourish.

  13. Decisions affecting sustainable development should be open and permit informed participation by affected and interested parties, that requires a knowledgeable public, a free flow of information, and fair and equitable opportunities for a review and redress.

  14. Advances in science and technology are beneficial, increasing both our understanding and range of choices about how humanity and the environment relate. We must seek constant improvements in both science and technology in order to achieve eco-efficiency, protect and restore natural systems and change consumption patterns.

  15. Sustainability in the United States is closely tied to global sustainability. Our policies for trade, economic development, aid, and environmental protection must be considered in the context of the international implications of these policies.

April 28, 1994
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