Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Anniversaries: The Brundtland Report is 20

The year was 1987 and Gro Harlem Brundtland was the Prime Minister of Norway - and busy chairing the UN's Commission on Environment and Development. The findings of this Commission were captured in a handy little booklet called "Our Common Future" where the term "sustainable development" was first coined.

I read an article by Bill Baue recently and he reminded readers that "Sustainability is an ancient concept, best articulated in the Gayaneshakgowa, or the Great Law of Peace of the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy: "In our every deliberation we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations."

Fast forward to 1992 to find this blogger up to her eyeballs in an undergraduate degree where every single course related to sustainable development assigned an essay asking us to define, debate, justify, or reject the term "sustainable development" - I remember thinking how ironic it was that we were expending all our brain cells trying to define and re-define this new term (or prove it to be an oxymoron) when all I really wanted to know was how I could put it into practice.

And here we are in 2007 and this blogger is still trying to find ways to put sustainability into action. Looking back over the past 20 years we seem to have concluded that the term "Sustainable Development" is not infact an oxymoron, which is a good start, and we have indeed found some great ways to put the concept into action - but that it still remains on the fringes of our economy, society, and environment - the very things the concept was meant to lie at the heart of.

What do you think?

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