FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 5, 2005
CONTACT: Jeffrey Barber (301) 770-6375 or jbarber@isforum.org


PRODUCING AND CONSUMING IN NORTH AMERICA:
ARE WE IMPROVING OR UNDERMINING OUR QUALITY OF LIFE?

Washington, D.C. This Labor Day weekend many people are reflecting on a number of tragic lessons from Hurricane Katrina. One lesson is the critical importance of protecting the environment on which communities depend. The second lesson is the need for a much wider vision of "homeland security." Tempers are flaring with knowledge that experts have long predicted and offered plans to avert this human catastrophe, plans neglected given other priorities.

Calling for a major reassessment of such other priorities, one group of environmentalists, consumer rights advocates, business leaders, government representatives, investment advisors, and educators maintains we need "a framework balancing social, environmental and economic priorities." In particular, we need to adopt the principles and practices of sustainable development, in which this balancing of priorities is central. The transition to sustainable development also means a major re-thinking of the criteria by which resources are allocated and invested. Such re-thinking involves a hard look at our current production and consumption practices and policies.

Sustainability-based decisions would take special care and precaution to avoid the kind of tragedy now unfolding in New Orleans as well as other parts of the world. "There is a growing understanding that global security depends on sustainable development," the group says in their statement Producing and Consuming in North America: A Call for Action and Leadership on Sustainability.

The statement is to be delivered Monday at an International Experts Meeting on Sustainable Consumption and Production in San Jose, Costa Rica. The meeting will discuss what different regions are doing to promote sustainable production and consumption patterns in their countries. Official reports from regional meetings on this issue are expected from Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America, with North America the exception. In lieu of official consultations and statements from North American leaders, the authors of Producing and Consuming in North America organized a consultative process, hosted by the North American Sustainable Consumption Alliance (NASCA), resulting in the current statement.

Noting that North America produces more than one-third of the world's GDP and Americans consume five times the amount of goods as the global average, the group asks: "Are we truly improving the quality of life for ourselves and the world around us?" Consuming one-fourth of the world's energy supply, we are overly dependent on energy, particularly oil and other fossil fuels. Yet, despite the warnings of scientists on the consequences of climate change, Americans continue to resist the changes needed to avert future catastrophes. At least until now, statement authors hope.

The statement, "Producing and Consuming in North America," can be found on the website of the North American Sustainable Consumption Alliance (NASCA) at http://nasca.icspac.net/

Integrative Strategies Forum is a nonprofit public interest group in the Washington area promoting sustainability policies and practices. www.isforum.org