Definitions abound about what constitutes sustainable development, yet we see only a handful of successful applications. Is sustainable development a buzzword or a concept that has the potential to mature?
When institutions highlight ‘sustainable development,’ they rarely share materials in a timely manner and even less so with the interested reader in mind. The result is that sustainability is not very accessible, let alone interesting.
I once asked a major foundation if they would provide a transcript of an important forum on development issues. The director was incredulous and replied, “What? Make it available to everyone?”
Such trickle down sustainability is the major disappointment of the past century. Hopefully, such closed-door mentalities will disappear.
Planeta.com launched the Sustainable Development Index in 1996 to assist researchers and journalists covering environmental business and sustainable development. Daily reporters generally do not have the time to investigate or report on long-term developments so this index has become quite popular.
Ideally, we should see more up-to-date information on criteria and implementation. Institutional websites ought to be much better by providing the information they have on hand.
Some sites do a great job exploring the breadth and depth of sustainability. Others have found that their own operations were not sustainable. Consequently, some excellent initiatives — such as Communication for a Sustainable Future (csf.colorado.edu) — disappeared.
We are very interested in seeing how projects are born and mature. We would like to see public analysis of work that has failed to meet objectives or satisfy the stakeholders. These lessons teach as much as reviews of good practices.