The Common Agenda — Resources
Common Agenda Foundational Paper
In 2007, Toward Tomorrow faculty and staff invited Dr. Ted Schettler of the Science and Environmental Health Network to collaborate on a “foundational paper” to ground discussions about long-term goals for sustainability. The paper touches on the evidence about trends in environmental quality and human health, and explores the myriad factors that contribute. Its principal argument is that strategies to restore human and environmental health must take into account the complexity of interconnections between the environment, human activity and health. The paper includes an introduction to systems thinking as a new approach to public policy.
The Swedish Environmental Quality Objectives
In recognition that environmental problems impact all Swedish citizens, the 1999 Swedish Parliament outlined a vision for the country in 30 years: by 2020, to be able to “hand down an ecologically sustainable society to future generations, a society in which the major environmental problems have been solved, with a flourishing natural and cultural environment.”Long-recognized as a leader in environmental policies and programs, Sweden broke new ground in establishing a process for ensuring progress towards the broad generational goal. A collaboration between government, businesses, and environmental advocates identified16 long-term and ambitious Environmental Quality Objectives, which describe where the country wants to be in one generation, and serve as guideposts to drive policy and budget decisions. The Objectives are based on 5 underlying principles: 1) promote human health; 2) preserve biological diversity; 3) preserve cultural heritage assets; 4) preserve the long-term production capacity of ecosystems; and 5) wisely manage natural resources. Sweden has tasked civil servants in national, regional, and local contexts with implementing and monitoring progress towards the Objectives, using benchmarks developed by the collaboration.
The Swedish Environmental Objectives inspired A Common Agenda for Health and Environment. The Swedes’ experience thus far with implementing the Objectives is relevant to the next phase of the Common Agenda project, in which we will promote the establishment of a Council to support Generational Goal-setting at the national level in the U.S.