About the Initiative
About the Initative
The purpose of Toward Tomorrow is to stimulate discussion and action towards a future in which human activity enhances the health and well-being of people and ecosystems.
We want to catalyze work by environmental and health organizations, as well as others not traditionally associated with these issues, to align programs and policies with broad societal goals that seek the economic, social and physical well-being of future generations. We seek to help shift the debate about links between environment and health from a focus on which materials and substances cause which problems, to a discussion about what kind of world we want to live in and how we get there.
Toward Tomorrow’s ten-year vision is that the federal and state governments have adopted ambitious goals for improving environmental quality and reducing associated disease; that relevant information is widely available so that the public can monitor progress towards the goals; and that leaders of health, environmental, housing, education, energy and a range of other organizations see both responsibility and opportunity in a focus on solutions.
Trends and Opportunities
People involved in Toward Tomorrow see urgent need and unique opportunity for diverse voices to catalyze a shift in attitudes and practices of public and private sector organizations and of individuals, with nothing less at stake than the survival of human kind on this planet. Trends of urgent concern include environmental degradation and a decline in human health, changing patterns of economic activity that are concentrating wealth and increasing the income gap between rich and poor, and depleted funds for public services, exacerbated by a failing economy. But there are promising trends as well. National government attention to health and environment has begun to shift—from a decade characterized by withdrawal of public funding for research and for programs that serve the public interest; the politicization of science; and the sapping of resources on war—to new leadership that understands the gravity of the threat of climate change and is aggressively promoting reduction in CO2 emissions and reliance on renewable sources of energy. And we see manufacturers of consumer products responding to and anticipating consumer demand for sustainable practices, and the economic crisis motivating people to conserve. Across the U.S., there is evidence of people from diverse backgrounds and organizations from a range of sectors seeing common opportunity in sustainable production and consumption.
Non-governmental civil society groups have an important role to play at this unique moment in time. Health organizations can expand their agendas beyond their important work on the treatment of expensive and debilitating diseases to address the root causes, including social and environmental factors. Environmental groups—having been on the defensive during the last decade, working to prevent further erosion of environmental protections and sometimes perceived by the public as being thoughtlessly oppositional—have the potential now to contribute their expertise and energize their memberships to promote sustainability via public policy and in private sector decision-making. But voices from many other kinds of organizations—including those representing the young people who will lead the next generation—are critical if changes in attitudes and practices are to occur on the scale that is needed. Engaging these organizations, and providing inspiration, evidence and tools for them to expand and integrate their work, are priorities of Toward Tomorrow.
Current activities of Toward Tomorrow are:
Toward Tomorrow builds on the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production’s long history of effective practical work with multiple constituencies—businesses, scientists, community-based organizations, government agencies and advocacy organizations—to test and demonstrate sustainable consumption and production practices and policies. This project builds on LCSP's work on the precautionary principle, in particular, and is a next step in our efforts to secure investments by the public and private sectors in the prevention of disease.