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The Common Agenda

Priority Action 1

Establish a National Council for Sustainability and Future Generations to Promote Action across Federal Agencies to Restore Public and Ecosystem Health

Setting Generational Goals is a new approach to government policy and program planning in the United States. The purpose of the National Council for Sustainability and Future Generations, made up of government and non-governmental representatives, is to support the development, implementation and tracking of national-level Generational Goals. The Council will provide coordination among government programs and promote accountability among government and non-government activities on sustainability, using participatory and democratic operating procedures and systems. In keeping with the World Commission on Environment and Development’s definition of sustainable development, the Council will help ensure that decisions made today do not compromise the ability of future generations to meet their needs, and instead enhance biodiversity and health going forward as well as restore damage done from past activities.

Suggested activities for the Council are:

  • engaging the public in reviewing and refining the Generational Goals;
  • assessing the likely impact of proposed government policy and budget decisions on progress toward Generational Goals and on future generations;
  • supporting and encouraging accountability for government sustainability initiatives, including developing criteria and benchmarks for success;
  • tracking and regularly communicating progress towards Generational Goals to a range of audiences using indicators agreed upon through a participatory, multi-stakeholder process;
  • creating a comprehensive data system of essential natural resources, and of population trends and consumption patterns that can be used to identify and prevent over-consumption and potential resource shortages;
  • supporting stakeholders (businesses, governments, trade unions, and relevant civil society groups) in their work toward achieving Generational Goals and objectives by providing planning guidance, technical assistance, educational materials and opportunities for information exchange and collaborative action, as well as access to data for tracking progress; and holding activities accountable to high standards of environmental sustainability to prevent “greenwashing”;
  • re-establishing and strengthening the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment to play a critical role in assessing technologies, including their social, economic, health, and environmental implications.