The Sustainable Cities Institute aims to give guidance and information to local governments that want to pursue sustainability – in their own operations as well as across the communities where they govern. This commitment to sustainability will challenge local leaders to find the best long-term solutions for balancing environment, equity and economy. To implement these solutions local government leaders will need to prepare their communities for change.
The Institute is committed to helping cities achieve success at these community building efforts by supplying them with direct access to information on sustainable principles and practices, illustrated by case studies about what other communities are doing. This web site is intended to be a central location for sustainability information needed by local governments. We will strive to help local governments save time and energy that might be spent on research, and instead spend it on making change happen locally.
The success of this site will be measured by the number of communities that take an approach to sustainability that is strategic, holistic, systematic, long term, and collaborative. Ultimately cumulative success will be stronger, more sustainable, cities nationwide.
While acknowledging the basic definition as well as the triple bottom line of sustainability, local governments should also determine what sustainability means to their community. Before embarking on a sustainability plan or program, it is helpful to get the key players together to discuss their definitions of sustainability as well as the specific purposes they see for the proposed program.
Today the word “sustainability” is used more and more frequently, from a wide variety of perspectives and with a number of different purposes in mind. As a result the word is becoming harder to define. The basic definition of sustainability is “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs” (Brundtland Report, Our Common Future, 1987).
Perhaps more important than the definition of sustainability is the understanding that the practice of sustainability reflects the intersection of three areas of concern for local governments: economy, environment, and equity – often referred to as the “triple bottom line” or “the three e’s.” Sustainability requires a fresh look at balancing all three areas that in the past have been viewed as competing against one another rather than being complementary.