Sustainability on MI
What does Sustainability mean?
- In 1983 the Brundtland commission was formed in response to a UN General Assembly resolution, and in their report, entitled Our Common Future they defined sustainable development as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
- A truly sustainable solution is considered one at the intersection of three realms: equity, environment, and economics.
- An ecological footprint is the land (and water) area that would be required to support a defined human population and material standard indefinitely (Wackernagel and Rees, 1996).
- In 2008, earth overshoot day, defined as the day of the year on which humans will have used all the resources that nature will produce for that year, occurred on September 23rd (http://www.footprintnetwork.org/gfn_sub.php?content=overshoot). Globally, we now require 1.4 Earths to support our lifestyles (although that number considers all humans - if everyone lived as we do on Mercer Island, the number would be closer to 5 Earths!)
- A sustainable solution would require that we live only off of nature's interest and so do not deplete nature's capital. Nature's interest in this context includes not only regenerating biomass and animal stocks, but also the ability of the atmosphere and waterways to accommodate our wastes.
The standard definition of sustainability is "Meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (Brundtland Commission, 1987).
This concept includes three major elements. First, it links economy, environment, and equity into one comprehensive decision-making process. Second, it emphasizes long-term change and its impact on intergenerational equity. Third, it recognizes natural resource scarcity and the limited carrying capacities of ecosystems.
What does a Sustainable Mercer Island look like?
First, note that a number of groups are working on creating this vision for the world. It typically consists of strong neighborhoods and local communities. Some interesting examples can be found at:
Some of our initial thoughts about what a sustainable Mercer Island might look like can be found here (which is very much a work in progress). And here is "'Mercer Island - Plus"', a mind map of likely activities that would be needed for a more resilient and Sustainable Island Community. Contact Kim Kendall to make suggestions for this evolving "map of the future".