presentation for our class session

Foundations of
World Sustainability
Professor Wayne Hayes
October 16, 2012
V. 1.2 | Build #7
Mood music:
What a wonderful world!
Louis Armstrong sings so.
October 17, 2012
Overview, business, announcements
Introductions: Who are we and why are we here?
What does sustainability mean? Discussion
Foundations of Sustainability: The Brundtland Commission
Report: origins and legacy
5. Next class: Economic Aspects of Sustainability
My goals here today are to
• Get to know you.
• Introduce world sustainability through the
Brundtland Commission Report
• Transition to Economics of Sustainability
1. Introductions from class:
 Who I am
 Why I am here
 My aspirations and goals
2. Introduction by Professor Hayes
3. History and design of MASS
4. My concerns
I keep in mind the
SUDS acronym.
Substance: Form and content
Urgency: pressing necessity
Depth: profound, foundational thought
Strategic: effective conduct; savvy, shrewd
The Brundtland Commission
The World
Commission on
Environment and
Our Common Future,
Gro Harlem Brundtland’s
Who was Gro Harlem Brundtland and
what was her background?
Brundtland has a resume!
• She was born 20 April 1939.
• She is a medical doctor with a public health degree. She is
former director of the World Health Organization.
• A feminist, she was Prime Minister of Norway (1981, 1986–
89, 1990–96), the first woman and youngest ever.
• She was chosen to direct the U.N. World Commission on
Environment and Development.
• Since 2007, she is a special U.N. envoy on climate change.
• She is among the Elders --- view the web site.
Note the full title of this
classic book:
Report of the World Commission on
Environment and Development:
Our Common Future:
From One Earth to One World.
Or, simply: The Brundtland Commission Report.
Brundtland’s classic definition of
sustainable development:
"Humanity has the ability to make development
sustainable to ensure that it meets the needs of
the present without compromising the ability of
future generations to meet their own needs.“
(Cited from original report. This is an important but brief
View the table of contents of
The Brundtland Commission Report
Click on the web site of the Report.
Study the organization of the report.
Professor Hayes will provide background.
The scope and breadth of the report is
still daunting.
• The geographical scope is planet-wide.
• The cultural worlds include all peoples, not
just U.N. member states. Note the title of the
overview, Our Common Future, From One
Earth to One World.
• The time span is reckoned among generations.
Note the Overview of the report.
Please scan the Overview but focus on the
Global Challenge and the Call for Action.
Significant aspects of the message
1. The report’s 21 commissioners approved the
final version unanimously.
2. The report boldly contradicted the reigning
paradigm of economic globalization.
3. The report redefined development,
transcending the imperative of economic
4. The report explicitly welcomed NGOs,
defining a role for civil society.
The challenge is to reconcile this
With this:
Sounds familiar?
The Brundtland Commission in 1987
attempted to redefine and to reconcile
the habitation of the Earth
by the human species.
This posed a daunting challenge.
How does the Brundtland report
changes the paradigm?
Ecology, economy, and equity are interlocked
and embedded in society and must be thought
of together. The report states (p. 5):
“Ecology and economy are becoming even more
interwoven --- locally, regionally, nationally and
globally --- into a seamless web of causes and
The scope of the report is daunting.
• The time perspective is generational.
• The geographical scope is global, but attempts
to harmonize the interest of poor nations and
• The report calls for a synthesis of broad
themes: nature, society, and the economy.
• The report stands outside the dominant social
paradigm of growth.
The agents of sustainability were
enlarged and made inclusive.
As an arm of the U.N., such commissions are generally limited to
nation-states. Not so here:
• Civil society organizations were central players in the
• Poor nations were to be active and not simply a recipient of
aid from rich and powerful nations.
• The role and status of women was central
• All stakeholders were to be empowered and mobilized as
agents of sustainability.
Population is still important but
. . . population is linked to other issues such as
1. The empowerment of women (after all,
Brundtland is a feminist) (p. 11)
2. The right of tribal and indigenous people to
livelihood, another term for economics.
Right after population comes the
discussion of food and agriculture:
The issue is now food security to include:
1. Agricultural subsidies by the rich countries
that hurt farmers in other countries
2. Lack of purchasing power among poor
nations as income distribution
3. The need for rural development (pp. 12-13
and later chapters).
The report questioned the role of the
international economy.
1. The destruction of the environment that was so
obvious in the 1980s
2. The growing inequality produced by the global
3. The growing debt burden of the poor nations
4. The lack of attention to the shared Commons
5. The lack of economic diversification at the local
and regional levels.
See specifically the Role of the International Economy.
What’s hiding in Brundtland Report?
The Brundtland Report
was a paradigm shift
that altered the assumptions
that dominated the
existing approach to
(economic) development.
Brundtland re-defined the core
concept: development.
The prior definition might be called the Truman Doctrine (1949
Inauguration Speech):
"All countries, including our own, will greatly benefit from a
constructive program for the better use of the world's human
and natural resources. Experience shows that our commerce
with other countries expands as they progress industrially and
Truman articulated a doctrine that implied that progress
for the multitude of the world's peoples and cultures was to be
found through emulating the material progress of the USA and
its partners in what was then called the Free World (WSY Wiki).
Wolfgang Sachs explains the
assumptions of the Truman doctrine.
"Truman's imperative to develop meant that societies of
the Third World were no longer seen as diverse and
incomparable possibilities of human living arrangements
but were rather placed on a single 'progressive track,'
judged more or less advanced according to the criteria of
the Western industrial nations. Greater production is the
key to prosperity and peace. And the key to greater
production is a wider and more vigorous application of
modern scientific and technical knowledge" (Sachs, 4).
The Brundtland Report set the stage
for the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992.
The Earth Summit created
Agenda 21 to guide
local implementation.
The triple bottom line
was made explicit.
See my wiki page for a discussion.
Global population now poised to reach
seven billion on Halloween, 2011.
The human ecological footprint
exceeds Earth’s carrying capacity.
The ecological footprint is
the amount of biologically productive
land and water needed
to produce and to consume the goods
and to absorb the the waste
to support all of us.
The human ecological footprint
steadily grows, unevenly.
2008 data
Foundations of Sustainability:
Web Resources
• Professor Hayes’s web page for our classes
• The Brundtland Report online
• The Executive Summary of the Report
• The definition of sustainability from the report
Background to the
Brundtland Commission Report
1. See my summary wiki page on Brundtland.
2. Examine my Prelude to Brundtland.
3. The reception by the Reagan administration
was chilly. The report clearly responded to
Prime Minister Thatcher’s TINA: There was
an alternative.
Statement of Concern
Read my online statement for class discussion.
The stakes are high, the trends disturbing, crises
intersect --- or soon will.
What do you think?
But we can . . .
Imagine: John Lennon
Next class
Introduction to Economic Aspects
of Sustainability.
See my
Foundations of Sustainability web site.