T H E   W H I T E   H O U S E

Chapter 1

Help Site Map Text Only

Council on Sustainable  Development

Chapter 1
Goals for An Eco-Efficient Economy


Setting goals was critical to the strategic approach of the Task Force. The goals provided a common basis for all the members from which they could assess and refine the policy recommendations and other outcomes of their work. The goals and their attendant indicators of progress will be the standard for evaluation of the effectiveness of the recommended policies as they are brought into practice.

The goals were developed through a process of discussion, negotiation, and, eventually, consensus. They derived from the vision of a sustainable U.S. economy, from the findings of the demonstration projects and the policy clusters, and from the personal beliefs and experiences of the Task Force members.

The goals are a formulation of the Task Force members' shared view of what the future could and should look like as the U.S. economy moves along the path of sustainable development. This view is summarized in the following vision statement:

The U.S. economy shall produce and use globally competitive goods and services while achieving environmental and social goals. This vision will result in a transition to an economy in which the constituents --people and businesses--provide for their needs and those of future generations through efficient and environmentally responsible practices.

It is worth noting that each term in the vision statement was selected with care to bring out an aspect of eco-efficiency. For example:

  • Produce and use underscores that responsibility for eco-efficiency is shared by those economic actors who supply goods and services, and by those who create demand for the same.

  • Globally competitive recognizes that U.S. business increasingly operates in a world market and that the costs of reducing environmental impacts should not place U.S. products at a disadvantage.

  • Goods and services refers to the comprehensiveness of the eco-efficient ideal, and also to the evolving nature of U.S. economic activity from primarily smoke-stack manufacturing to more diverse, service and information-age industries.

  • Achieving environmental and social goals is a reminder that eco-efficient economic growth, by its nature, reinforces the drive to produce a cleaner environment and a more equitable society.

These concepts were amplified and organized within the goals of the Task Force.


The Task Force set six goals toward which its recommendations should lead: Responsibility shared throughout society for eco-efficiency; continued Economic Growth; Sustainable Resource Utilization; protection of Environmental Quality; flexible, cost-effective Government Regulatory Policy; and increased Social Well-Being.

This section contains a context statement, a summary of the goals, and suggested indicators of progress for each goal. The context statements reflect the thinking behind the goal. The indicators translate the goals into practical terms that should allow a ready measure of the nation's progress as it strives toward greater eco-efficiency.

Responsibility and Economic Growth are, in the view of the Task Force, the underpinning of the other goals.


Context Statement

Individuals, through their actions, choices, and decisions, are the foundation upon which our society and economy are built. In order to capture the significant societal, economic, and environmental improvements offered by sustainable development, therefore, eco-efficiency must become a widely held societal value.


To act collectively and individually in ways that contribute to eco-efficiency and sustainable development through better understanding and communication of the environmental, economic, and social consequences of our actions.

Indicators of Progress

Progress toward the goal of responsibility could be measured using indicators such as:

  • school curricula which incorporate eco-efficiency; and
  • adoption of environmental management systems by a majority of institutions.

Economic Growth

Context Statement

Continued, long-term economic growth is essential to the prosperity of the United States and is fundamental to sustainable development. Maintaining this economic growth as the United States transitions to sustainability, is a critical challenge.


To maximize economic growth in the expanding global marketplace as measured through newly established indicators that fully account for social and environmental externalities.

Indicators of Progress

Progress toward the goal of long-term economic growth could be measured using indicators such as:

  • development of a sustainable national account; and
  • incorporation of externalities in existing national accounts.

From these two core principles flowed the goals of Sustainable Resource Utilization, Environmental Quality, and Government Regulatory Policy. The interaction of these three goals leads to efficient and proper use of resources and the desired state of environmental quality.

Sustainable Resource Utilization

Context Statement

In the aggregate, current use of materials and energy in the U.S. economy is not sustainable. Production and consumption of materials now account for large shares of U.S. energy use, waste, and pollution.[4]


The U.S. economy should efficiently produce and use globally competitive goods and services while reducing resource use to sustainable levels and, thereby, greatly reducing adverse impacts on natural systems.

Indicators of Progress Progress toward the goal of sustainable resource utilization could be measured using indicators such as:

  • increased market share of renewable and recoverable resources; and
  • achievement of commodity-specific recycling rates.

Environmental Quality

Context Statement

In the aggregate, the environmental burden created by US. economic activities is not sustainable.


A safe and clean environment should be attained by making pollution prevention, waste reduction, and product stewardship standard practice. All people and ecosystems should be protected, and economic and social well-being enhanced.

Indicators of Progress

In order to measure progress toward the goal of environmental quality, we would first need to:
  • establish sustainability levels for all media.

Government Regulatory Policy

Context Statement

The transformation to sustainable development and eco-efficiency will occur through the actions of individuals, government, and the marketplace. Government is responsible for establishing national environmental goals and enabling progress toward those goals.


Government regulatory policies should support and enable the efforts of individuals, communities, and corporate entities to achieve their eco-efficiency objectives in the most flexible, expeditious, and cost-effective manner possible.

Indicators of Progress

Progress in the area of government regulatory policy could be measured using indicators such as:
  • increased use of voluntary compliance agreements; and
  • increased use of performance-based systems.

The final goal, Social Well-Being, is the net result and byproduct of a robust economy, a safe and clean environment, and the exercise of individual responsibility.

Social Well-Being

Context Statement

Social well-being is affected by the availability and quality of educational and job opportunities and by the short- and long-range environmental, health, economic, and social impacts of employers on individuals and communities.


Increase the quality and quantity of job opportunities in all communities and protect the health of all people and ecosystems through appropriate government policies and efficient economic expansion.

Indicators of Progress

Enhanced social well-being could be measured in terms such as:
  • increased employment or functional literacy rates;
  • increased instances of urban redevelopment; and
  • reduced disproportionate environmental burdens.

The complete Eco-Efficiency Task Force goals, including context statements and all indicators of progress, are attached to this report as Appendix A.

[4] World Resources Institute, World Resources 1994-95 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), p. 15 (showing enormous consumption of materials by the United States); U.S. Department of Commerce, Statistical Abstract of the United States 1994 Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1994), p. 587, table 924 (showing industry consuming 24.2 percent of total U.S. energy).

Chapter 2: Policy Recommendations | Table of Contents

President and First Lady | Vice President and Mrs. Gore
Record of Progress | The Briefing Room
Gateway to Government | Contacting the White House
White House for Kids | White House History
White House Tours | Help | Text Only

Privacy Statement

Eco-Efficiency Task Force Report

Executive Summary


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4



Appendix A