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Learning from the President's Council on Sustainable Development: The Need for a Real National Strategy

19 Pages Posted: 28 Feb 2008 Last revised: 23 Jul 2015

John C. Dernbach

Widener University - Commonwealth Law School

Abstract

This is a review of United States sustainable development efforts at the national level from 1992-2002. At the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992, the United States and other countries agreed to develop and implement a national sustainable development strategy in order to fully integrate environmental matters into national decision making. In this period, the United States did not have such a strategy. Through much of the Clinton Administration, the President's Council on Sustainable Development (PCSD) (1993-1999) provided the basis for such a strategy through a rich variety of policy recommendations, but relatively little effort was made to implement them within the executive branch of the federal government. While committed individuals were working within some specific agencies, there was no individual or organizational entity at the helm to steer the executive branch, or any charted course by which to steer. The congressional effort to foster sustainable development during this period was even more meager. There appears to have been little if any strategic thinking within the U.S. as a whole about how the United States can and should achieve sustainable development. The United States should develop and implement a strategy for achieving sustainable development. Within the executive branch, there should be a coordinating entity or mechanism for this strategy as well as for the integration of sustainable development concepts into its day-to-day activities. A parallel mechanism or entity should exist within Congress.

Keywords: sustainable development, national governance, integrated decision making, President's Council on Sustainable Development, Agenda 21, Rio Declaration, Government Performance and Results Act, sustainable development indicators, United Nations Conference on Environment and Development

JEL Classification: K32, K33, Q01

Suggested Citation

Dernbach, John C., Learning from the President's Council on Sustainable Development: The Need for a Real National Strategy. Environmental Law Reporter, Vol. 32, No. 10648, 2002. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1098492

John C. Dernbach (Contact Author)

Widener University - Commonwealth Law School ( email )

3800 Vartan Way
Harrisburg, PA 17110-9380
United States

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