MEETING OF THE PRESIDENT'S COUNCIL ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
Council Co-Chair Ray Anderson welcomed the Council Members
and the public and facilitated introductions.
Mr. Anderson began by giving a brief history of the current
phase of PCSD. He noted that a diversity of input from across the country
informed and inspired this report to the President. He also explained
that the draft report had been circulated to council members and to the
public whose comments have been incorporated into the current version
of the report.
Mr. Anderson outlined the agenda for the meeting to include:
- Public responses to the report
- Task Force presentations on changes to the report
- The discussion of report rollout strategies
- Presentation of the proposed timeline to the National Town Meeting
Comments by Member Ehrmann,
Mr. Ehrmann outlined PCSD's policy about public input and
response. He stated, that though PCSD is not required to undergo public
review it has been the belief of PCSD that public comments and interaction
are necessary for a complete understanding of all the issues of sustainability.
Following these comments Mr. Spitzer, executive director
of PCSD, asked the audience if any one present had already submitted comments
to the PCSD. Some hands were raised.
II. Public Comments on the Report
Comments by Mr. Spitzer,
Mr. Spitzer prefaced his remarks by explaining that the
current report to the President was written with the policymaker in mind.
He explained that government agencies, non-governmental organizations,
private businesses, scientists, and other concerned citizens took the
opportunity to review the draft report. Commenters addressed concerns
such as early action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity,
land use and development, international cooperation, and overpopulation.
Mr. Spitzer said that several commenters were concerned
that certain issues were not addressed in this report. He addressed these
concerns by explaining that the President had asked the PCSD to focus
on four areas of sustainable development.
Those four focus areas were:
- Reduction of green house gas emissions
- Promote the next steps in building an environmental management
system for the 21st century
- promoting partnerships in implementation of sustainable development
for metropolitan and rural areas, and
- to work internationally with other national councils to partner
there, as well as to encourage capital flows from developed to developing
countries that would be consistent with sustainable development
Mr. Spitzer added that though the current focus was limited
to these four areas, PCSD has addressed many more concerns in previous
literature and will endeavor to create a web version of the report that
is cross-linked with these other documents.
Mr. Spitzer continued to address public comments by responding
to those comments which called for a town meeting. Mr. Spitzer noted that
a town meeting is in fact already planned and will take place in Detroit
from May 2-5, 1999.
III. Finalize Report
Comments by Mr. Percy,
Mr. Percy described the Climate Change Task Force as a diverse
body that was able to reach agreement on a very controversial topic. Mr.
Percy listed some accomplishments of the Climate Change Task Force:
- principles for an incentive-based and voluntary action program
to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
- policies to accelerate the rapid deployment and development of
climate friendly technologies over the course of the next 10 to
- opportunities to realize the broader benefits and global opportunities
of climate change mitigation strategies
- a constructive framework for policymakers and others to think
about on climate change
- win-win opportunities for taking action on climate
Mr. Percy continued his comments by listing the key findings
of the task force:
- climate protection policy should be fundamentally linked to any
national agenda for economic growth, environmental protection, and
- timely action to reduce the risks of climate change
- many actions that protect the climate have multiple benefits
- an incentive-based program is essential to catalyze voluntary
early action to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions
- climate-friendly technology will play a critical role as we strive
to achieve reduced greenhouse gas emissions as well as other sustainable
- consensus building, outreach, and inclusive approaches are essential
components of sustainable of climate action
Mr. Percy asked that members of the council take this time
to make any recommendations for changes to the document. None were offered.
As such Mr. Percy noted that the council had reached consensus on this
topic as represented in the report. Mr. Percy suggested that the take
away message was that, "We believe that we can protect the climate in
ways that create new opportunities for economic growth and for improving
everybody's quality of life."
Environmental Management Task Force
Comments by Mr. Mcclosky,
Mr. Mcclosky spoke about the Environmental Management Task
Force. He suggested that the primary message of this report was a call
for an environmental management framework for the future that has certain
- It is driven by goals
- It is driven by performance
- It is driven by information
- It is attuned to nature cycles
- It is sensitive to variations in sectors of our economy
Comments by Mr. Benforardo,
Mr. Benforardo began by underscoring the value of the comments
received. He followed with a description of the four areas of change that
had been identified by the task force.
- Information - standardized methods of obtaining and measuring
- Performance - encourage increased environmental performance from
all sectors of society. Explore the use of incentives to accomplish
- Linking of strategies in places - encourage networking among different
regions so that environmental strategies can be compared and lessons
can be shared.
- New approaches to persistent and emerging environmental issues.
Comments by Mr. Drake,
Mr. Drake defined the environmental framework as a broad
sense of institutional and individual influences that affect the environment,
including, environmental laws and regulations, corporate stewardship,
economic and financial systems and other features of organized society.
The framework, he continued, will include standard requirements for all
but more flexible strategies for those who demonstrate strong environmental
performance and increased improvement. In addition the framework will
include traditional tools such as national standards, permits, reporting,
enforcement, et cetera--and new approaches--market and information based
approaches, stakeholder participation in decision-making, performance-based
standards, et cetera. The result will be a system that is less uniform
and more complex, but also more flexible.
At this point Mr. Mcclosky read some of the changes
that had been made to the document. There were no objections to these
Metropolitan and Rural Strategies Task Force
Comments by Mr. Bernstein,
Mr. Bernstein asserted that the overall theme of this report
was that social capital is still viable. He suggested that place-based
strategies tend to increase this social capital as well as proving that
people care about their environment, community, and economy together.
Mr. Bernstein pointed to 8 billion dollars of new funding for sustainable
initiatives as an inspiration for further work in this area.
5 strategic opportunity areas which the Environmental Management
Task Force had identified:
- reinfrastructure, which includes the concepts of both ecosystem
stewardship and natural capital;
- work on better land use and development;
- community revitalization and reinvestment including making the
most of existing places
- rural community and enterprise development;
- and finally resource efficiency and materials reuse.
Mr. Bernstein indicated that the principal recommendation
was to realign existing authority and resources with local sustainable
community goals efforts and initiatives, around three major resource areas.
- information and technical assistance.
- economic incentives and financial assistance.
- building local capacity to provide better partnerships.
Mr. Bernstein addressed public comments by suggesting that
the public influenced work to:
- streamline the chapter, make it more readable,
- emphasize strategies that support local initiatives that invest
in people and places
- address new ways of thinking about economic development e.g.,
economic opportunities built from knowledge rather than materials.
- Implementation efforts
- Mr. Bernstein gave a three-year forecast for such efforts.
Year One: increase learning through better information
and networks, including the identification of ways of taking the information
that's already collected and using to help build better knowledge bases
on a place by place basis.
Year Two: invest in efforts to better leverage new
market development opportunities and the creation, where necessary, of
intermediary organizations to start to bring the resources behind the
efforts that have been identified in each of these five categories.
Year Three: stronger linkages between the many parties
and institutions key to this process
International Task Force
Comments by Ms. Dillon-Ridgely,
Ms. Dillon-Ridgely began her comments by thanking Commerce
Secretary Daly, Ken Lay, John Palmisano, and Catherine McKalip-Thompson
for the contributions that they made to this report.
Ms. Dillon-Ridgely explained that the public focused on
details like chapter sequencing, word choice, and support materials suggesting
that there was support for the document as a whole.
Ms. Dillon-Ridgely asserted that the United States has not
only a leadership, but also a stewardship role to play in the world context.
Accordingly the US needs to take seriously its commitment to sustainability
even as the PCSD's Charter comes to an end. Ms. Dillon-Ridgely suggested
that the report begin with a call to continue the type of work that PCSD
has done so successfully over the last five years.
She also underscored the importance of national sustainable
development councils across the globe including Canada, Mexico, the Philippines,
Japan, Jamaica, the Czech Republic, Germany, Khazakstan, Brazil, and Greece.
There are over 100 nations with sustainable development councils.
Comments by Mr. Mario Rietta, a member of the Honduran National
Council on Sustainable Development, Conades,
Mr. Rietta stated that Honduras, the Caribbean, and the
Dominican Republic were very happy to participate with the United States
on sustainable development issues.
Comments by Mr. Bernstein,
Mr. Bernstein suggested three strategies designed to urge
the federal government to continue to have a body devoted to sustainable
- Begin the report with a letter that suggests that a national council
devoted to sustainable development should continue to be a national
- Write a letter, as a council, to the President and Vice-President
- As individuals write letters to newspapers
Mr. Bernstein suggested that councils like PCSD are important
because they are multi-agency groups that represent a broad-spectrum.
As the government is a big presence in the economy it is important that
it be represented and interested in sustainable development.
Comments by Mr. Adams,
Mr. Adams suggested that the next time an organization such
as PCSD is created there should be a greater commitment to its advancement
by senior member of the administration as well as senior members in the
corporate world. He also said that the experience of working with PCSD
has been very valuable to him and to the way people are thinking about
Comments by Mr. Ehrmann,
Mr. Ehrmann agreed that PCSD should urge the federal government
continue to support sustainable development through a dedicated body.
He indicated that a preface to the report could include lessons learned
over the 6 years of PCSD as well as an indication of how the PCSD momentum
Comments by Ms. Perrault,
Ms. Perrault suggested that the report indicate how the
federal government is going to follow up on the findings the report. She
agreed that the federal government needed to continue to have a body devoted
to sustainable development in order to better inform the public about
sustainable practices. She thought this body might also provide a place
for the public to find out specifically how the government is moving towards
Comments by Mr. Johnson,
Mr. Johnson voiced his support for federal participation
in a continuing body that focuses on sustainable development.
Comments by Mr. Percy,
Mr. Percy indicated that PCSD has a responsibility to pass
on what was learned from its 6 years as a council to those that will come
after to continue its work.
Comments by Mr. Anderson,
Mr. Anderson voiced his agreement that a continuing national
body for sustainable development be maintained. He said that the PCSD
is a national symbol without which there would be no place to point to
the fact that the US is supporting a sustainable world.
Comments by Ms. Dillon-Ridgely,
Ms. Dillon-Ridgely noted that though there has been environmental
progress in the last six years, as well as progress in understanding the
economics of sustainable practices, there is still a long way to go to
increase social capital. She suggested that sustainable development as
a concept needed to be better marketed. She also voiced her strong support
for a continuation of a body like PCSD.
IV. Report Roll Out Strategy
and the NTM
Presentation by Mr. Spitzer,
Mr. Spitzer expressed the desire to dovetail NTM outreach
strategies with the roll-out of the final report.
He proceeded to suggest some timelines for rollout. He suggested
that approximately 20-30 organizations should be targeted for a personal
presentation of the report rather than just a mailing.
Mr. Spitzer also wanted to stress the cross-cutting themes
found in the report. Though there are four different chapters about four
different issues many themes have risen to the top such as collaboration,
stewardship, individual responsibility, information, and capacity building.
The primary messages of this discussion were as follows:
- though there are cross-cutting themes evident in the report these
themes may not always be the substance of particular chapters.
- NTM personal commitments should be creative and challenging
- NTM commitments should find a visual form of representation to captivate
- The NTM has already generated significant excitement
Final Public Comment
Comments by Mr. Strong,
Mr. Strong suggested that more focus be put on the issue
of multi-culturalism. He also stressed the need for implementation strategies.
In addition he touched on such themes as respect for life, spiritualism,
equality, human dignity, and human rights.
Comments by Mr. Rietti,
Mr. Rietti congratulated PCSD on their work, invited them
to central America, and encouraged dialogue with the President about rejecting
older methods of exclusion for newer methods of inclusion.