Publisher: Earthscan Date of Publication: 2005
Price: ISBN: 1 84407 228 2
Pages: xvi + 465 Format: Paperback

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1 - Call for operationalizing environmental sustainability; 2 - Driving environmental change; 3 - Why has environmental sustainability been elusive; 4 - Investing in environmental management; 5 - Structural changes for environmental sustainability; 6 - Implementing strategies for environmental sustainability.



This text is part of a far larger project - The Millennium Project. This project is aiming to reduce global want in a number of areas surrounding the issue of poverty. The 8 goals are part of the framework to bring about change. It follows that this work is of enormous interest to environmental and ecological educators. Here is just one example of the vast number of books and reports being produced by the task force on environmental sustainability. In many ways this work is similar to that carried out by the IPCC on climate change. The books are the end product of a large group of experts all contributing their expertise to the final report. It follows that work like this reviewed here contains some of the best and most advanced thinking on environmental sustainability. Looking at this text for review one ponders the size of the project and the recent history of environmental improvement and change in global governance one hopes that this will be useful but one fears that the old inertia will re-assert itself and this will be one more in a long line of great works going no-where!

The book starts with a basic format which outline the work of the Millennium Project and the 8 goals that underpin it. This is followed by a set of 10 key recommendations aimed at bringing ideals of sustainability into practical use. For those wanting a brief overview, the text then has an executive summary highlighting the key points. Chapter one starts the text proper and it looks at ways in which environmental sustainability could be put into practice. It looks at the problems of land degradation and the problems that flow on from there such as food security. One key problem is environmental change or, not accurately, the rate of change. Chapter two examine this rate and the key drivers forcing it along. A series of maps demonstrate what we already know - degradation occurs in some of the poorest regions on Earth. Chapter three acts as a brief summary noting the extent of the problem and posing the question as to why sustainability should be so difficult to achieve. So far, these chapters have outlined the nature of the problems being faced. As such this is part one of the book. Part two focusses on solutions starting with chapter four which considers one way forward to be an investment in management. The basic argument is that to halt decline we need to put into place other strategies and that these are going to need management. It's clear that this is seen as a whole-of-system policy with areas looking at supply, demand and environment. Chapter five recognises that these fine words need some solid grounding and so the focus here is on structural change - the need to work from the ground (and institution) upwards. Change is not one are but all and so anything less than this will risk failure. The words are fine and the strategies are reasonable but, given current world events, one wonders if any leader with political problems will be able or willing to embrace the change needed. A final chapter shows how these ideas could be put into place and the sort of time issues that would be involved.

This is a very brief, condensed view of what has been an enormous UN-based project. The brevity works to our advantage in that we see the best of the ideas and policies without the detailed background that must have gone into the work. This book would form an ideal teaching unit (or more!) on a range of topics. Senior students would find much to debate in the texts. As such it must be seen as one of the 'must-buy' texts of recent times.


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