One of the biggest challenges confronting the president's new Council on Sustainable Development is explaining just what sustainable development is.
Council co-chairman David Buzzelli says it is a lot like one judge's definition of pornography: "You know it when you see it When you give people an example of it, they understand."
A White House statement defines it as "development that meets the need of the present without compromising the future."
Jonathan Lash, president of the World Resources Institute, and Mr. Buzzelli, a vice president and corporate director of environment, health, and safety, and public affairs at the Dow Chemical Company, have been asked to change the world. Mr. Lash says that in one of its first meetings, the 25-member council will probably get into a discussion of the ideal world. But, he says, "It would be a mistake to get bogged down in Nirvana."
Buzzelli describes sustainable development as "the integration of environmental and economical policies mutually good for each other." To that, Lash adds that is should have a long-term vision and the ability to provide a high quality of life.
Public education may be an important part of the council, Buzzelli says. For instance, it plans to give out an annual award. Lash says the award will be instrumental in showing an example to the public.
Lash says the council, which was announced last week by President Clinton on the first anniversary of the Earth Summit in Rio, was built on ideas of the previous administration. But an addition to the is the inclusion of several Cabinet members. Secretaries of the Interior, Commerce, Agriculture, and Energy and the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency are expected to play key roles.
The co-chairs have watched a debate between the business world and the environmentalists rage but agree that the council would not have been possible 10 or even five years ago.
The group will meet quarterly over a two-year period, beginning in September. At the end of its tenure, "we would rather have accomplished a few things than worked on 100," Buzzelli says.