Articles - 2012 | volume 8 | issue 2

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Policy debate: editorial introduction

Maurie J. Cohen
Editor, Sustainability: Science, Practice, & Policy, USA

Keyword: international policy, sustainable development, social responsibility, economic conditions, environmental protection, business, industry

Citation: Cohen M. 2012. Policy debate: editorial introduction. Sustainability: Science, Practice, & Policy 8(2):61. Published online Apr 13, 2012. http:///archives/vol8iss2/editor.note-8.2.html


National governments are due to convene in Rio de Janeiro on June 20–22, the twentieth anniversary of the 1992 Earth Summit, to affirm their commitments to sustainable development. However, by virtually any measure, progress toward a more sustainable future has been halting. In fact, many indicators—most notably greenhouse-gas emissions—suggest that as a global community we have actually taken several steps backwards during the intervening years. Regardless of how one interprets the past two decades, there is little question that opportunities have been squandered and precious time has been lost.

The United States surely plays a critical role in the international politics of sustainability and its activities during the final lead-up to the Rio conference, and indeed at the event itself, will be critical to how the challenges are framed. While the following article by Alan Hecht and his colleagues should not be interpreted as constituting an “official” policy position, it merits careful review because of the instructive insight that it provides on the views of several authors who, over the past twenty years, have played key roles in shaping the discourse on sustainability at the highest levels of government.

This Policy Debate also includes a response from John Stutz and I am grateful that he accepted my invitation to contribute to this discussion. The exchange concludes with a rejoinder by Alan Hecht and his colleagues.

The issues raised here demand thoughtful consideration during the final stages of the preparatory process for the Rio event as well as after all the conferees have returned home. Accordingly, SSPP has created a forum in which readers are encouraged to contribute to the conversation. We welcome your comments and reactions. Just click on the comments tab to join the discussion.

©2012 Cohen. CC-BY Attribution 4.0 License.
To search for U.S. Government datasets on topics covered in this article, as well as doctoral dissertations, visit the Researcher's Toolkit for Free Access to sustainability data & resources!!