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Sustainable Development

Linking Economy, Society, Environment

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Foreword Angel Gurría

Please cite this chapter as: Gurría, Angel (2009), “Foreword”, in Tracey Strange and Anne Bayley, Sustainable Development: Linking Economy, Society, Environment, OECD Publishing.

This document and any map included herein are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area.

Foreword Since the Brundtland Commission published its landmark report in 1987, we have come a long way in our refl flections on sustainable development. Few would dispute its fundamental principles: that our actions must take into account effects on the environment, economy and society, and that what we do today should not compromise the well-being off future generations. In the last 20 years, significant fi progress has been made. Most national governments have begun to incorporate sustainable development into their planning and policy. Pro-active businesses across the globe have brought sustainability to their products and processes. Local initiatives have had success in informing citizens off the importance off participating in reducing waste, renewing urban spaces and other programs. In spite of these efforts, though, putting the principles of sustainable development into practice has proven to be anything but simple or straightforward. After all, both people and institutions have their habits, and changing them, even when the need is obvious, can be daunting. A key question remains whether we have made enough progress, or taken the warnings seriously enough to allow us to grasp and confront our biggest, most pressing problems. We have solid evidence off climate change, with projections pointing to an increase in extreme environmental events with potentially devastating consequences for the systems that support human life and society. About halff the world still lives on less than $2.50 dollars a day, lacks access to clean water, sanitation, adequate health care and education – an unacceptably stark contrast to the much higher standards off living in developed 3

countries. Some emerging economies, such as China and India, are undergoing rapid growth, resulting in more wealth, but also an increased demand for energy and greater pollution problems. Finding sustainable solutions for growth holds the potential to help reduce poverty, foster development and preserve the environment. Implementing them requires political will and co-operation on a global scale. The OECD has been at the forefront off the effort to advance sustainable development. We have supported extensive research on the challenges off sustainability and been active in efforts to develop best practices in areas such as sustainable production and consumption and measuring sustainable development. One of the significant fi challenges lies in policy coherence – ensuring that different policies and practices support each other in reaching a goal. Achieving this coherence in our policies and institutions is essential to achieving real and lasting progress. With a long record off research, analysis and international co-operation, the OECD can offer policy options for addressing these challenges. The aim off the Insights series is to generate an informed debate on some off the key issues that affect our societies and economies today. For a truly meaningful dialogue, we need to go beyond exchanging opinions – no matter how fiercely they are held – and look at the facts and figures. We also need to move beyond jargon. After all, it is this kind off inclusive and broad-based dialogue that will produce the most widely-supported decisions and strongest results. Angel Gurría Secretary-General off the OECD


Acknowledgements The authors gratefully acknowledge the editorial contribution from Patrick Love and the substantive input and advice from the following: Nick Bray, Emmanuel Dalmenesche, Adeline Destombes, Jeremy Hurst, Enrico Giovannini, Brian Keeley, Kumi Kitamori, Katherine Kraig-Ernandes, Vincent Koen, Raili Lahnalampi, Wilfrid Legg, Lorents Lorentsen, Marco Mira d’Ercole, Thorvald Moe, Helen Mountford, Christoph Müller, Mario Pezzini, Candice Stevens, Ton Boon von Ochssee.

Currency Note Currency references are in US dollars unless otherwise indicated.

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