Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Ecologically Sustainable Development

One of the benefits of a historical approach is that you realise there is nothing new under the sun. In 1992 all Australian governments adopted the National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development which is still there on the Department of Environment and Heritage site. This is supposed to underpin national policy, but on a Factiva search it doesn't seem to have been mentioned by anyone recently. As Elim Papadakis points out in Politics and the Environment it was an attempt to ster an alternative both to the doomsayers and the cornucopians. The Strategy says:

The Goal is:

Development that improves the total quality of life, both now and in the future, in a way that maintains the ecological processes on which life depends.

The Core Objectives are:

  • to enhance individual and community well-being and welfare by following a path of economic development that safeguards the welfare of future generations
  • to provide for equity within and between generations
  • to protect biological diversity and maintain essential ecological processes and life-support systems

The Guiding Principles are:

  • decision making processes should effectively integrate both long and short-term economic, environmental, social and equity considerations
  • where there are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation
  • the global dimension of environmental impacts of actions and policies should be recognised and considered
  • the need to develop a strong, growing and diversified economy which can enhance the capacity for environmental protection should be recognised
  • the need to maintain and enhance international competitiveness in an environmentally sound manner should be recognised
  • cost effective and flexible policy instruments should be adopted, such as improved valuation, pricing and incentive mechanisms
  • decisions and actions should provide for broad community involvement on issues which affect them

This seems a good starting point for current policy.



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