HARRISBURG – Sustainable development may be one of the most important and potentially transformational ideas to come out of the last century. The ultimate objectives of sustainable development are freedom, opportunity, justice, and quality of life for everyone in this and future generations. While the United States has a substantial body of environmental and social protection laws, we are far from being a sustainable society. The question is what to do.
A new book from the Environmental Law Institute, Governing for Sustainability (www.eli.org/eli-press-books/governing-sustainability) provides a detailed set of recommendations on how to accelerate progress toward sustainable development – for federal, state, tribal, territorial, and local governments, as well as the private sector and civil society. The various contributions that personal behavior can make toward both public and private governance are included as well. These recommendations would help make America – and Pennsylvania – a better place for all.
In 2015, the United Nations Member States, including the United States, unanimously approved 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be achieved by 2030. The SDGs are non-binding, and each nation is to implement them based on its own priorities and circumstances. In Governing for Sustainabilty, co-edited by Widener University Commonwealth Law School Professor John Dernbach and, 22 experts recommend steps the United States should take now to advance each of these SDGs.
Keystone Research Center economist and executive director Stephen Herzenberg wrote the chapter in Governing for Sustainability on accelerating progress towards Sustainable Development Goal #8, Decent Work. This chapter highlights the importance of two broad policies – strengthening workers’ rights to form unions and full employment – to reducing the economic inequality that underpins the widespread “indecent work” that currently exists in the United States. Herzenberg’s detailed recommendations on strengthening workers’ rights deserve close reading in Pennsylvania by the Shapiro Administration, Mayor Ed Gainey in Pittsburgh, and the primary election winners in the races for Philadelphia Mayor and Allegheny County Executive.
Richard Lazarus, Howard J. and Katherine W. Aibel Professor of Law, Harvard Law School says that “Governing for Sustainability offers an inspired, timely, and important roadmap for meeting the wide-ranging political, economic, and social justice challenges our nation faces in achieving sustainability. Each chapter, authored by one or more of the nation’s leading experts, is a treasure to be mined.”