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UK Sustainability Report

What can a government do to promote environmentally-friendly development? Quite a bit, according to a just-released report from the UK's Sustainable Development Commission. The report, with the typically understated title of "Shows promise. But must try harder" (also available as PDF), issues 20 "challenges" to the government of the United Kingdom, ranging from strategic national goals to specific recommendations for local councils.

The issue of sustainability is one of the central challenges of our time.

Some people think that the concept of sustainable development is a platitude, no more demanding and no more exciting than apple pie. We think on the contrary that it is one of the most demanding challenges facing humanity today, and also one of the most exciting.

Some of the major changes and trends that are emerging in society today are fundamentally unsustainable. Some of the changes that will need to be made to get onto a more sustainable path run quite contrary to received opinion and may initially be quite unpopular.

[...] But we are acutely conscious of the magnitude of the challenges ahead and of the dangers for the world and for the UK if we do not move more swiftly and firmly towards a radically more sustainable society. The challenges we have made in this report are intended to help shape the debate which is about to be launched, and to give it as much urgency and incisiveness as possible.

In our view, the time for more radical change is right now. We stand ready to elaborate and defend the challenges we have put forward in the great debate which is about to commence.

What's particularly remarkable about this document is that it shows the breadth and depth of what governments can do to help bring about a shift to more environmentally sustainable development. I haven't finished reading it in its entirety, as it's fairly lengthy, but what I have read is clearly a serious and well-thought-out attempt to grapple with how a modern democratic nation can become an environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable society. That it comes from Blair's environment advisor and head of the goverment commission, not from an NGO, makes it all the more impressive.

What do you think of the report and its recommendations?

Comments (1)

Stephen Balbach:

I have not read the report entirely yet.. but in another comment yesterday I felt the UK will lead the world in the Green Revolution. Just as the UK invented the Industrial Revolution the same social forces are at work 200 years later for a continuation of that trend into the Green Revolution with the UK at the lead.

America is ruled by special interests there does not exist enough pressure to force a change it will take England to show the way and it will force American companies to compete by the new rules.


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