© Ann Goodman 2012
It was an honor to moderate the UN Women NYC’s panel–“Three Pillars of Sustainability”–at Saatchi & Saatchi’s Manhattan offices Tuesday evening, May 8.
As we approach the global Rio + 20 conference on sustainability next month, the topic could hardly be timelier.
Below, I share with you my introductory comments to the audience of over one hundred men and women in the business, government and non-profit sectors.
Stay tuned–right here–for more inspiring voices from the panelists!
“Thanks to the whole crew at UN Women NYC for inviting me to moderate this important panel tonight–especially Cheryl, Diane and Dee Dao.
“And particular thanks to these two remarkable young girls, age 6 and 8, who have raised money for water wells in the developing world! Their work embodies a key message of the initial definition of sustainable development, namely “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” There’s inter-generational equity built into the definition. And the future is our inspiration in the present!
“We have a great line-up of panelists tonight. So I won’t take long
to introduce the concept of sustainable development—especially since I
know that many of you in the audience are already experts on the topic.
“You all know that the Rio + 20 conference is coming up next month—which makes this panel extremely timely! As we approach this significant event, it’s useful to remember that the term ‘sustainable development’ grew out of environmental discussions (which is one reason it sometimes still gets reduced to that narrow definition).
“Just to recap briefly: we can trace the roots of sustainability at least 40 years back, to 1972, the time of the Stockholm Conference on Human Environment. The Prevailing notion then was that environmental protection couldn’t happen in harmony with conomic or any other kind of development.
“Then, 10 years later, in 1982, The UN asked for an independent organization to focus on environment and development. Dr. Gro Brundtland, former prime minister of Norway, was asked to head it.
“Five years later, in 1987, the Brundlandt Commission produced the landmark report, entitled ‘Our Common Future,’ which called for a balance of economic growth, environmental preservation and improved social development, or, “sustainable development”. “Hence the ‘three pillars’ of sustainable development: economic, environmental and social.”
“Five years following the report, in 1992, the first UN conference on environment and development, also called the “Earth Summit,” was held in Rio (which led to a declaration to fight poverty and preserve the environment at the same time) —and the rest is history.
“Now we’re moving to Rio + 20 next month, 20 years after this first conference in Rio. (As you’ll see in my conversation with the UN’s Rio coordinator, Liz Thompson, some of the same issues are still on the table—including how to ensure that women are empowered as we move toward a so-called ‘green economy’ that gives voice to all sectors (including government, business and civil society) and that also aspires to lift the poorest into sustainable livelihoods.
‘So this panel is most timely, and each of our panelists has a unique contribution and approach to advancing sustainable development, ranging from natural resources, to business, to health, to community and family planning.”