Sustaining America

8 Pages Posted: 3 May 2012 Last revised: 23 Jul 2015

See all articles by John C. Dernbach

John C. Dernbach

Widener University - Commonwealth Law School

Date Written: May 2, 2012


This essay summarizes U.S. sustainability efforts over the two decades since the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development (or Earth Summit) in 1992. It also summarizes basic findings and recommendations from Acting as if Tomorrow Matters: Accelerating the Transition to Sustainability (Environmental Law Institute 2012). Drawing on the expertise of more than four dozen sustainability practitioners in a variety of fields, the book teases from the limited progress made in the United States over the past two decades the overall patterns for that progress. It also reviews the most significant obstacles to sustainability, again showing patterns in those obstacles across a wide variety of areas. Finally, and building on this framework, the book explains in detail how to accelerate progress and overcome obstacles, providing a checklist of ideas and opportunities that can be used now in any sector or place.

Keywords: sustainable development, sustainability, Acting as if Tomorrow Matters, Stumbling Toward Sustainability, Agenda for a Sustainable America, environmental law, U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development, Earth Summit, law for sustainability, governance, law

JEL Classification: O10, O20, O51, Q00, Q10, Q20, Q30, Q40, Q01

Suggested Citation

Dernbach, John C., Sustaining America (May 2, 2012). Widener Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 12-10, Available at SSRN: or

John C. Dernbach (Contact Author)

Widener University - Commonwealth Law School ( email )

3800 Vartan Way
Harrisburg, PA 17110-9380
United States

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