The Vision provided by the Sustainability Strategy
The guidelines show the path our country must take in order to become more sustainable. They cover the entire spectrum from intergenerational equity to the quality of life, social cohesion and international responsibility.
1. Intergenerational equity
What path must we take today to ensure that we can live well tomorrow? A new intergeneration contract is needed, focusing on reconciling the interests of the various generations. National debt must be reduced, social insurance systems reformed, the costs of the health service brought under control and the natural resource base conserved.
The fundamental ethical principles of sustainability are that every generation must solve its own problems rather than leaving them for the next generation. Anyone financing their economic and social policies with borrowed money and leaving an ever growing mountain of debt for the next generation contravenes this contract. The same applies if we fail to invest in our economic future, preferring to focus our attention on rapid, short-term consumption.
2. Quality of life
The concept of sustainability has a vital and simple core: a good quality of life for all people, now and in future. Everybody can take their own life in their hands, learn, work, and accept responsibility for themselves and others, within an overall network of social relations in a healthy and intact environment.
An intact environment is indispensable for our quality of life. But the quality of life comprises much more than this. It embraces health, personal development opportunities, job satisfaction, appropriate housing, adequate income, and social esteem. Equally, good schools, safe cities where people can live healthily and happily and a full range of cultural opportunities are important factors.
3. Social cohesion
Preventing poverty and social marginalization, taking measures to stop a rift opening up in society with the winners on one side and the losers on the other, involving all sections of the population in economic and social development – these are the elements that represent the social dimensions of sustainable development.
The challenge for the state is to provide an adequate range of training for new or changed activities. It must also ensure that properly functioning social security systems are in place.
4. International responsibility
The environment and development – this was the promise of the Earth Summit (or the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development to give it its full title) held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
Linking the two goals provides an international foundation for a global sustainable development strategy. This makes sense because, for instance, clean water and fertile soil is the foundation on which many developing countries will base their economic development. On the other hand in these countries in particular, poverty and lack of alternative economic options can lead to the soil being over-exploited.
Overcoming the North-South divide is a central aspect of sustainability.