Book Assesses U.S. Sustainable Development Efforts

At a time when major questions are being asked all across the political spectrum about the state of the nation’s and the world’s environment, the Environmental Law Institute has released Stumbling Toward Sustainability, the most current assessment of U.S. environmental law and policy.

Washington, D.C. – August 2, 2002 [] Edited by Professor John C. Dernbach, 42 of the nation’s leading scholars and thinkers have produced an impressively comprehensive blueprint for sustainable development. “Stumbling Toward Sustainability spotlights the promise of new approaches to decision-making and incentives for stewardship,” said Fred Krupp, Executive Director of Environmental Defense. “Business-as-usual puts the world we cherish at great risk.” The book’s publication coincides with the tenth anniversary of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. This month governmental and non-governmental representatives from developed and developing nations will come together at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), in Johannesburg, South Africa. Stumbling Toward Sustainability provides a roadmap showing the route around the political and technical barriers that have so severely hampered the U.S efforts to achieve greater sustainability. The Editor notes that the United States has unquestionably begun to take some steps toward sustainable development. Yet, on balance, the nation is now far from being a sustainable society, and in many respects is farther away from that goal than it was in 1992. “ELI’s book is an illuminating report card on the United States’ performance in carrying out its pledges since the conference in Rio ten years ago,” according to Timothy E. Wirth, President of the United Nations Foundation. “The importance of U.S. leadership has been clear since Rio; as has the disappointment on how well the U.S. has discharged its responsibilities on issues from agriculture, air pollution, biodiversity, and climate change to population and waste disposal.” The distinguished experts whose backgrounds and academic disciplines cover a wide range make a central point clear: the path to sustainability is not an easy one, because there is so little experience with modern societies that are ecologically sustainable. Still, legal and policy tools are available to put the U.S. on a direct path to sustainability. The book offers numerous suggestions, both for consideration at the WSSD and afterwards.

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