Sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations.
Sustainability is important to making sure that we have and will continue to have, the water, materials, and resources to protect human health and our environment.
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- Sustainability Basic Information
President Obama’s Stance on Sustainability
Under President Obama’s leadership, the United States has engaged the international community to promote sustainable economic growth and to meet the climate change challenge through a number of important venues, including:
- International Climate Negotiations
- In December 2009, President Obama and other world leaders came together to negotiate the Copenhagen Accord, an important milestone in which, for the first time, all major developed and developing economies agreed to implement measures to limit their greenhouse gas emissions and to do so in an internationally transparent manner. In 2010, the Cancun Agreement confirmed and substantially extended the core elements of the Copenhagen Accord in the areas of finance, technology and adaptation as well as mitigation and transparency in an instrument that the Parties enthusiastically endorsed.In December 2011 at Durban, the United States and the international community took important steps to make operational all of the key elements of the Cancun agreement, including a transparency regime to monitor and review mitigation efforts by developed and developing countries, as well as established a Green Climate Fund. In addition, a process was launched to negotiate a new legal instrument to take effect from 2020, and U.S. leadership was crucial to ensuring that the instrument will be applicable to all parties and include all of the major economies within a common legal system.
- The Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, launched by President Obama in April 2009, facilitates a candid dialogue among major developed and developing economies to make progress in meeting the climate change and clean energy challenge. The 17 major economies which are members of the Major Economies Forum are: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
- The Clean Energy Ministerial, announced by President Obama and the Leaders of the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, and led by Energy Secretary Chu, has made progress towards its goal of driving transformational low-carbon, climate friendly technologies by providing tools and platforms to improve the policy environment for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and clean energy access.
- At the 2011 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit chaired by President Obama in Honolulu, leaders agreed to eliminate non-tariff barriers to environmental goods and services, including local content requirements, and cut applied tariffs on such goods and services to 5 percent by 2015. This will help lower costs, increase the dissemination of clean technologies, and create jobs. Leaders further committed to phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies and aimed to reduce the energy intensity of APEC economies by 45 percent by 2035.
- In February 2012, the United States launched the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollution, a new global initiative to make rapid progress on climate change and air quality. Reducing pollutants that are “short-lived” in the atmosphere, such as methane, black carbon, and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which together account for one-third of current global warming, can prevent more than 2 million premature deaths a year, avoid the annual loss of over 30 million tons of crops, increase energy security, and address climate change. Founding coalition partners include Bangladesh, Canada, Ghana, Mexico, Sweden, and the UN Environment Program.
For more information on President Obama’s stance on Energy, Climate Change and Our Environment
Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities
Many communities around the country are asking for tools to help them achieve their desired development goals, improve quality of life, and become more economically and environmentally sustainable. In response to this demand, EPA developed the Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program.
Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities provides quick, targeted technical assistance to selected local and/or tribal governments using a variety of tools that have demonstrated results and widespread application. The purpose of delivering these tools is to stimulate a discussion about growth and development and strengthen local capacity to implement sustainable approaches.
In 2013, EPA will select up to 44 communities for assistance. Each technical assistance project in a community will include:
- Public engagement, a one-day workshop that is open to the public.
- Direct consultation with relevant decision-makers.
- A memo outlining specific steps the community could take to implement the ideas generated during the site visit.
Technical assistance will be delivered by EPA staff. In addition, four nonprofit organizations with extensive expertise in sustainable communities will select up to 55 additional communities for assistance. These organizations-Forterra, Global Green USA, Project for Public Spaces, and Smart Growth America-have received grants from EPA to offer assistance using tools they have chosen.
More government links:
- Innovating Our Way to a Clean Energy Future
- Climate Change Adaptation
- Climate Change Science and Education
- Federal Buildings Leading By Example
- Instructions for Implementing Sustainable Locations for Federal Facilities