Our Common Journey

A Transition Toward Sustainability

Board on Sustainable Development
Policy Division
National Research Council

NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
Washington, D.C.



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Our Common Journey A Transition Toward Sustainability Board on Sustainable Development Policy Division National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C.

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Page ii NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS • 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. • Washington, D.C. 20418 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This study was supported by grants from Mitchell Energy and Development Corporation, the George and Cynthia Mitchell Foundation, and the National Research Council. Additional support for the Summer Study, 1996 was provided by Contract No. 56-DKNA-5-31000 between the National Academy of Sciences and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project. Additional copies of this report are available from the National Academy Press, 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, D.C. 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); http://www.nap.edu Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 99-50619 International Standard Book Number 0-309-06783-9 Printed on Recycled Paper Copyright 1999 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America

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Page iii THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES National Academy of Sciences National Academy of Engineering Institute of Medicine National Research Council The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. William A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. William A. Wulf are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council.

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Page v BOARD ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT EDWARD A. FRIEMAN, University of California, La Jolla, California, Chairman ROBERT W. KATES, Independent Scholar, Trenton, Maine, Vice Chairman LOURDES ARIZPE, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Mexico JOHN BONGAARTS, The Population Council, New York, New York RALPH J. CICERONE, University of California, Irvine, California WILLIAM C. CLARK, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts ROBERT A. FROSCH, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts MALCOM GILLIS, Rice University, Houston, Texas RICHARD R. HARWOOD, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan PHILIP J. LANDRIGAN, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York KAI N. LEE, Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts JERRY D. MAHLMAN, NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Princeton, New Jersey RICHARD J. MAHONEY, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri PAMELA A. MATSON, Stanford University, Stanford, California WILLIAM J. MERRELL, H. John Heinz III Center, Washington, D.C. G. WILLIAM MILLER, G. William Miller & Co., Inc., Washington, D.C. M. GRANGER MORGAN, Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania PAUL RASKIN, Stockholm Environment Institute-Boston/Tellus Institute, Boston, Massachusetts JOHN B. ROBINSON, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada VERNON W. RUTTAN, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota THOMAS C. SCHELLING, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland MARVALEE H. WAKE, University of California, Berkeley, California WARREN WASHINGTON, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado M. GORDON WOLMAN, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland Ex-Officio Member Chairman, Committee on Global Change Research BERRIEN MOORE III, University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire Staff SHERBURNE B. ABBOTT, Executive Director LAURA SIGMAN, Research Associate LESLIE MCCANT, Project Assistant

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Page vii Acknowledgments Many individuals assisted the board in its task by participating in summer studies and workshops, developing background papers, and providing critical reviews of chapters. The board is especially grateful to Tony Patt, Harvard University, Darby Jack, Williams College, and Garren Bird, Williams College, for assisting in preparing background materials; C. Ford Runge, University of Minnesota, for contributing a thoughtful paper on globalization of the economy and sustainability; Eric Kemp-Benedict, Charlie Heaps, and Jack Sieber, Stockholm Environment Institute-Boston/Tellus Institute, Boston, Massachusetts, for preparing the scenarios found in the appendix to Chapter 3; and Professor Harvey Brooks, Harvard University, who provided critical analyses of the strategic approach to navigation and illuminated various terms. The board would also like to express appreciation to individuals, other than members of the board, National Research Council staff, or individuals serving in a staff role, who participated in summer studies and workshops. They are:

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Page viii 1996 Summer Study: "Scouting the Rapids" Bar Harbor, Maine July 20–26, 1996 Bruce Alberts, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C. Richard Balzhiser, Electric Power Research Institute, Palo Alto, California Robert W. Corell, National Science Foundation, Arlington, Virginia Arthur J. Hanson, International Institute for Sustainable Development, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada H. Theodore Heintz, Jr., Department of Interior, Washington, D.C. Steve Katona, College of the Atlantic, Bar Harbor, Maine Mary Hope Katsouros, The H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment, Washington, D.C. Nancy Maynard, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Washington, D.C. Donella H. Meadows, Dartmouth College, Durham, New Hampshire Nebojsa Nakicenovic, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria Robert C. Repetto, World Resources Institute, Washington, D.C. Roberto Sanchez, Commission for Environmental Cooperation, Montreal, Canada Jurgen Schmandt, Houston Advanced Research Center, The Woodlands, Texas Billie L. Turner, II, Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts Robert Watson, World Bank, Washington, D.C. Workshop on Environmental Barriers to Sustainable Development Stanford University, Stanford, California December 12, 1996 Miguel Altieri, University of California, Berkeley, California Gretchen C. Daily, Stanford University, Stanford, California Anne H. Ehrlich, Stanford University, Stanford, California Paul R. Ehrlich, Stanford University, Stanford, California Walter P. Falcon, Stanford University, Stanford, California Rosamond Naylor, Stanford University, Stanford, California Peter M. Vitousek, Stanford University, Stanford, California

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Page ix Workshop on Decomposition of Complex Issues in Sustainable Development Washington, D.C. February 27–28, 1997 Jesse Ausubel, The Rockefeller University, New York, New York William Bender, Independent Scholar, Groton, Massachusetts Cabell Brand, Recovery Systems Inc., Salem, Virginia Thomas Dietz, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia Kenneth Frederick, Resources for the Future, Washington, D.C. Peter H. Gleick, Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security, Oakland, California Mark Rosegrant, International Food, Policy & Research Institute, Washington, D.C. Lee Schipper, International Energy Agency, Paris, France Iddo Wernick, Columbia University, New York, New York Workshop on Food Security: Sustaining the Potential Minneapolis, Minnesota May 28–31, 1997 Robert Evenson, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut Robert Goodman, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin Anne R. Kupuscinski, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota John Mellor, John Mellor Associates, Inc., Washington, D.C. Ronald L. Phillips, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota Terry Roe, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota C. Ford Runge, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota G. Edward Schuh, Hubert Humphrey Institute, Minneapolis, Minnesota Benjamin Senauer, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota Paul Waggoner, Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, New Haven, Connecticut

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Page x 1997 Summer Study: "Science for a Sustainability Transition" Woods Hole, Massachusetts July 7–12, 1997 Bruce Alberts, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C. Jesse H. Ausubel, The Rockefeller University, New York, New York Richard Balzhiser, Electric Power Research Institute, Palo Alto, California Eric Davidson, Woods Hole Research Center, Woods Hole, Massachusetts Paul R. Epstein, Harvard University Medical School, Cambridge, Massachusetts Christopher Field, Stanford University, Stanford, California Genevieve Giuliano, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California Susan Hanson, Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts Gary S. Hartshorn, Organization for Tropical Studies, Durham, North Carolina Robert W. Lake, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey Jerry M. Melillo, The Ecosystems Center, Woods Hole, Massachusetts Vicki Norberg-Bohm, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts Rick Piltz, U.S. Global Change Research Program Office, Washington, D.C. Robert C. Repetto, World Resource Institute, Washington, D.C. F. Sherwood Rowland, University of California at Irvine, Irvine, California Ambuj Sagar, Center for Science and International Affairs, Cambridge, Massachusetts Jurgen Schmandt, Houston Advanced Research Center, The Woodlands, Texas Robert H. Socolow, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey H. Guyford Stever, National Research Council, Washington, D.C. Henry J. Vaux, University of California, Riverside, California Thomas J. Wilbanks, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee William A. Wulf, National Academy of Engineering, Washington, D.C. Reviewers This report has been reviewed by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council's Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the authors and the NRC in making the pub-

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Page xi lished report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The content of the review comments and draft manuscript remains confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We thank the following individuals for their participation in the review of this report: Brian J.L. Berry, University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, Texas John S. Chipman, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota Elisabeth M. Drake, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts Christopher Field, Stanford University, Stanford, California Harold K. Forsen, National Academy of Engineering, Washington, D.C. Peter H. Gleick, Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security, Oakland, California Thomas Graedel, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut Robert Harriss, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas Geoffrey Heal, Columbia University, New York, New York Brian Heap, Royal Society of London, United Kingdom Donald F. Hornig, Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts Ronald Lee, University of California, Berkeley, California Daniel P. Loucks, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York Akin Mabogunje, Development Policy Centre, Ibadan, Nigeria Harold A. Mooney, Stanford University, Stanford, California Tarla Rai Peterson, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas M.S. Swaminathan, Centre for Research on Sustainable Agriculture, Madras, India Gilbert E. White, University of Colorado, Denver, Colorado Robert M. White, Washington Advisory Group, Washington, D.C. While the individuals listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, responsibility for the final content of this report rests solely with the authoring committee and the NRC.

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Page xiii Preface This report is a work of moderate, length, considerable effort, and large ambition. In seeking to reinvigorate the strategic connections between scientific research, technological development, and societies' efforts to achieve environmentally sustainable improvements in human well-being, it has drawn upon nearly 375 reports of the National Research Council and hundreds of other works cited in the text. In the course of its four-year effort, the board held eight meetings, two summer studies, three workshops, and a public symposium, and commissioned two studies. We benefited enormously from the voluntary efforts of the participants in these studies and workshops and their willingness to share with us their knowledge and experience and provide the critical analysis, perspectives, and questions the board needed to sharpen its understanding and judgments. Most of all, this report is the work of the 25 members of the Board on Sustainable Development, its executive director, Shere Abbott, and her associate, Laura Sigman. The board is extremely large and diverse, as is the nature of our topic, with a heady mix of the natural and social sciences and engineering, seasoned by a few members with considerable experience in both industry and government, and from north and south of the United States. With mutual respect, careful listening, deep thought, and much hard work, they came together with the set of unanimous findings, judgments, and priorities for knowledge and action. Early on, the board benefited from the experience of its first director, John Perry, and the guidance of our chairman, Edward Frieman. Laura Sigman filled in the

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Page xiv blanks of memory, intention, and citation with great research and good humor. But in the crucial years of preparation of this report, Shere Abbott piloted us on the board's journey, drafted significant parts of the report, and shared with us the pains of understanding and the pleasures of discovery. On behalf of our colleagues on the board and all who benefit from this report, we acknowledge her central contribution and offer her our heartfelt thanks. Unlike most NRC reports, this one does not originate in a request from government for scientific advice. Rather it is a product of the desire of a major benefactor, George P. Mitchell, to address the research needs for the global commons of atmosphere, land, and water. Equally, it is a product of the desire of the Academies to reinvigorate the role of science and technology in sustainable development, and to contribute to the meeting of 80 international academies in 2000, co-chaired by the National Academy of Sciences' Foreign Secretary Sherwood Rowland, on the topic of a transition toward sustainability. Mr. Mitchell and the National Research Council have shared the cost of the study and the sometimes anxious awaiting of its outcome. In a special sense, however, the report is the product of Bruce Alberts, the president of the National Academy of Sciences, ably assisted by William Colglazier, who saw in the idea of a sustainability transition the great challenge of the coming century and consistently urged the board to explore and articulate how the science and technology enterprise could provide the knowledge and know-how to help enable that transition. Finally, we acknowledge all of our children and grandchildren who, by their very presence, anchor us in the vague and uncertain future of the next two generations and make real our common journey. They, and their contemporaries, are the thinkers and doers and movers and shakers of the first half of the next century. And to them this report is dedicated with our hopes for a successful journey. ROBERT W. KATES AND WILLIAM C. CLARK, CO-CHAIRS SUSTAINABILITY TRANSITION STUDY

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Page xv Contents Executive Summary 1 Goals for the Transition to Sustainability 4 Trends and Transitions 4 Exploring the Future 5 Environmental Threats and Opportunities 7 Reporting on the Transition 8 Integrating Knowledge and Action 10 Introduction 15 1 Our Common Journey 21 Sustainable Development: Common Concerns, Differing Emphases 22 Sustainable Development: The First Decade 26 Goals for a Sustainability Transition 30 The Transition to Sustainability as Social Learning 48 References and Bibliography 51 Endnotes 56 2 Trends and Transitions 59 Human Development 61 Human Action and Environmental Transformations 80 Conclusions 101

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Page xvi References and Bibliography 102 Endnotes 111 3 Exploring the Future 133 Strategies for Exploring the Future 134 Integrated Assessment Models 139 Scenarios 147 Regional Information Systems 154 Conclusions 159 Appendix: Scenarios for a Transition Toward Sustainability 161 References and Bibliography 177 Endnotes 182 4 Environmental Threats and Opportunities 185 Conceptual Issues 186 Environmental Perspectives 188 Development Perspectives 189 Interaction Perspectives 208 Integrated Approaches in a Place-Based Context 222 Conclusion 223 References and Bibliography 224 Endnotes 230 5 Reporting on the Transition 233 Indicators 233 The Use of Indicators 234 Indicators for a Sustainability Transition 244 Indicators and Social Learning 264 References and Bibliography 265 Endnotes 272 6 Integrating Knowledge and Action 275 Navigating a Transition Toward Sustainability 275 Priorities for Research 278 Priorities for Action 302 Toward a Sustainability Transition 318 References and Bibliography 320 Endnotes 329 Appendixes 333 A: Biographical Information on Board Members and Staff 333 B: Acronyms 345 Index 349