Wednesday 20 June 2012


Sustainability and Environmental issues are probably one the biggest single issues facing the global community in the 21st Century. Never before has an issue impacted so globally and brought consensus from so many countries, or been the catalyst for so much (and such diverse) legislation. 

The most widely used definition of sustainability is one taken from the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) Brundtland Report: ‘sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’

It means that the way that we live our lives and consume our planet's resources isn't just about us and now but about what we leave behind for those that are following us. It's about consumption and disposal; what we build and what we demolish; how we live every aspect of our lives. Even in times of economic hardship it is still an issue that affects every person on the planet.

The roots of sustainability reach back nearly 40 years to the UN Conference on Human Environment held in Stockholm this led to the establishment of many national and international environment and protection agencies including the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). 

Over the following 20 years a variety of summits and conferences were held around the globe until in 1992 World leaders gathered for the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro. UNCED saw the creation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change which was ultimately to lead to the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. This was finally ratified by the requisite amount of countries in 2004 and automatically came into force. It is the Kyoto Protocol which is the driver behind many pieces of Environmental legislation both in the UK and in the EU. The undertakings made under the Kyoto Protocol were designed to be legally binding.

Since Kyoto there have been serveral more Summits - which brings us two decades on back to Rio for what is now the United Nationals Conference on Sustainable Development.

Take some time to browse the website and see some of the of the challenges we are facing. I shall be following events at the Summit eagerly to see what transpires; keep an eye on my Twitter feed.