Published on November 12th, 2015 | by Guest Contributor
Anthony Wile Agrees, “Sustainable Development Solution is Inclusionary”
Here’s a quiet revolution. At the highest level, policy makers are codifying sustainable development initiatives that will be implemented in trade treaties and by the United Nations via a global development agenda setting priorities for the next 15 years.
What is sustainable development?
A 1987 World Commission on Environment and Development report defined it as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
While this is somewhat vague, there are numerous agencies and NGOs that are working on providing the details. However, pushback to sustainable development often comes from those who believe that the approach ought to be rooted primarily in the private sector rather than the public one.
After decades of such criticism, those promoting sustainable development as an initiative rather than a theory seem increasingly attentive to this argument. Perhaps that is why outreach is increasingly being formulated to include all elements of “civil society.”
A number of recent initiatives and commentary provide evidence that stakeholders are making efforts to formalize sustainable development via various kinds of public sector and governmental integration. For instance, the European Commission has just announced that the EU intends to place ambitious sustainable development, labor and environmental provisions in the TTIP trade agreement now being negotiated.
According to the announcement the proposed chapter on sustainable development in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) offers the most ambitious provisions ever proposed to a trading partner.
Presenting the new proposal, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said, “Trade is not only a tool to create new economic opportunities for consumers, workers and employers, but also a tool to help the world become a more responsible place.”
The proposal on sustainable development in TTIP presents an integrated approach on trade and sustainable development, also covering labour and the environment and reaffirms the right of governments to regulate on labour and environmental protection. The proposal also refers to commitments made as part of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and Multilateral Environmental Agreements, to ensure that both sides respect a common set of fundamental labour standards and environmental rules.
The Huffington Post recently posted an article regarding sustainable development and ways to advance it using inclusionary initiatives.
Sustainable Development Needs Public Participation … In 2015, a new global development agenda setting priorities for the next fifteen years has been launched. World leaders adopted Agenda 2030 and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September at the United Nations.
These goals represent a commitment by all countries to tackle some of the toughest global challenges: ending poverty and hunger, reducing inequality, providing good education, and achieving better health, good jobs and environmental sustainability. The goals also focus on peaceful and inclusive societies as well as international partnerships.
The post was authored by Helen Clark, UNDP administrator and former prime minister of New Zealand. She was also the keynote speaker at the October 28th 2015 Global Summit of the Open Government Partnership in Mexico City.
For Clark and others spearheading sustainable development, the process “requires whole of government approaches to economic, social, and environmental policies.” She added that “engagement is also required from all sectors of society” and calls for “responsive, inclusive, participatory, and representative decision-making at all levels.”
As this particular approach is not entirely new, Clark mentioned, “initiatives like the Open Government Partnership (OGP) provide a clear example of what can work. OGP was launched in 2011 as an international platform for domestic reformers committed to governance which is more open, accountable, and responsive to citizens.”
Anthony Wile, chief investment strategist of High Alert Investment Management Ltd. and publisher of TheDailyBell.com, commented on the broader outreach: “As a market-oriented family investment office with an interest in agriculture and farmland, we want to make sure that our financial interests are aligned with the best possible agricultural practices that fit with our ethical investing mandate. We’re aware of the controversy surrounding sustainable development and private sector participation is obviously critical to the success of the program.”
Anthony Wile’s perspective is buttressed by studies of regions where sustainable development has been implemented. A Portland State University honors thesis published in 2014 and entitled “International Perspectives on Sustainable Agriculture in Cuba” pointed out the tension that exists between various sociopolitical elements when it comes to creating sustainable development programs.
[Observers] have studied various aspects of Cuban agriculture, primarily seeking to validate one of two perspectives. The first group has documented the success and sustainability of the agriculture program since the mid 1990s, and the second group criticizes the bureaucracy and social economic system and their negative impact on food production in the country.
When made aware of the study, Anthony Wile commented: “That’s interesting. I’d say these points provide us with a good summary of the challenges involved in sustainable development. The analysis involves Cuba because Cuba actually has such a program, but I’d argue the issues are going to be universal and something that will need to be grappled with on a regular basis.”
Wile added, “To put it in place from the top down without thorough buy-in from those affected is going to increase frustrations and decrease effectiveness, so increased sensitivity and inclusionary approaches are a step forward.”
For Anthony Wile and many others, the increased attention paid to the viewpoints of those “in the trenches” is indeed a step forward toward a goal that is, theoretically anyway, a worthy one.
“No one wants to build a business that degrades the survival of future generations,” Anthony Wile concluded, “and serious efforts to implement sustainable development must be inclusionary. The more those driving these programs forward realize that, the more successful they will be.”
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