Complete Society

Ideas and strategies for a sustainable world

National Office of Sustainability

In the Fall of 2008, a team of students at the Presidio School of Management prepared a presentation proposing that a National Office of Sustainability should be created by the Obama administration.  This web page contains the short summary of that presentation.

Team Members: Basak Altan, Charles Bowers, Erika Kimball, Ted Ko, Matt Sonefeldt, Aileen Sweeney

The National Office of Sustainability (NOS) would coalesce and execute a national sustainability strategy using the current economic recovery plans while rationalizing and coordinating the sustainability initiatives throughout the Federal government.  It would also provide consistent metrics for evaluating progress.

This is critical from the start of the new administration because the complex challenges facing the Federal government today create an unprecedented need for cooperation, coordination and tracking to undertake a critical and ambitious agenda.

Through an Executive Order, President Obama can establish an office that creates:

  • Cooperation among agencies, Congress, state & local governments
  • An efficient path for sustainability initiatives
  • Government wide consistency among indicators / metrics

A recent report from the GAO stated:
”[We recognize] the overwhelming degree of interaction among the environmental, economic, and social sectors, and the degree to which the consequences of these interactions are cumulative, is unpredictable, and – in many cases – difficult to repair”

“the federal government lacks an organizational framework to provide a consistent basis [to measure its progress on the environment]…”

[It is difficult to develop]“a set of national environmental indicators useful for establishing priorities, allocating resources, and assessing results”

We believe these unprecedented needs create an unprecedented opportunity to

  • Change the way government operates
  • Transform the economy
  • Re-establish American leadership in the world

The NOS would be the Federal government’s advisory body on sustainable development.
It would be an independent, non-partisan agency that puts sustainable development at the heart of government policies and programs: reducing environmental impacts while fostering economic growth, reducing poverty, and improving equity on a national scale.

The NOS would undertake three main areas of activity:

  • Inform and enable systems-level solutions by marshaling the most advanced information and tools and encouraging debate.
  • Catalyze sustainable development through appraisal, advice, advocacy.
  • Collaborate with state and local governments, the private sector, the science and higher education communities, and other nations to reach these ends.

The Time is Now to:

  • Address climate change and pollution, and restore our natural ecosystems as foundations of long-term prosperity
  • Enable our citizens to secure quality housing, employment, education and healthcare
  • Build a new economy that creates secure domestic jobs and narrows gap between rich and poor

Prominent groups around the country have proposed comprehensive solutions:

  • Presidential Climate Action Project: Climate Action Plan
  • Center for American Progress: Green Recovery
  • Community Food Security Coalition: Healthy Food and Communities Initiative
  • Trust for America’s Health: Restructuring Government to Address Social Determinants of Health

A new National Office of Sustainability would be the best way to synthesize the best of these solutions into programs that unify the federal government to create the change we need.


1 Comment »

  1. What a great idea…Whatever happened?
    I am in my first semester at PGS and am excited at all the great opportunities.
    Great job!

    Comment by Kervin Krause | February 26, 2010 | Reply

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