Public Sector should operate a Zero tolerance policy on counter sustainability

Let’s give it to you straight as we see it, and try and point you in a constructive direction. We also want you to work with us if you are as serious about it as we are.

Today is about the public sector. Lets’s take a physical area, for the sake of this exercise we?ll say it corresponds to national borders.

Now, to ensure sustainable development (if that is what the people want) some things should not be allowed within those borders. Right? Most of this seems clear doesn?t it?

  • In terms of health :damaging working conditions, harmful substances in food, misleading claims made by sellers that could damage health etc

  • For environment: environment damaging activities, release of toxins, depletion of resources,

  • For companies : externalizing costs to society, waste and depletion of earth?s resources, spreading of untruths that lead to health damage, dangerous products, misuse of other?s money etc

  • For society: creating displacement and disadvantage and misery, prejudice and discrimination.

From a sustainability point of view, the public sector should be all about enabling a standard of living (as agreed on by the people in that area) within the constraints of the environment in its area of management. And setting up restrictions and other barriers to prevent sustainability being undermined.

But it doesn’t work that way. In fact, a lot of the restrictions to malpractice by financial institutions in the US have been removed, labeled “old fashioned”. And Corporations enjoy the legal status of a living individual whilst their employees are duty bound to act counter-sustainably if they are to fulfill the intentions in the articles of association.

From the US we have heard stories of the poor nutritional value of school dinners partly as a result of having food chains in as sponsors. And we hear from all over the world how public space (physical and mental) is being intruded on by corporations.

Officers in the public sector would do well to:

  • Set about rigorously reinforcing restrictions especially for the workplace, for care of young people, for environmental depletion and heath standards.

  • Work to define and concretize what is meant by standard of living for that particular area and to what degree people believe it should be enabled. Should everyone in the area have a right to roof over their head and clothes on their back and food in their stomachs. Or is that the right of those who have the economic resources to buy these things?

  • Work to put appropriate requirements and legal restrictions into place. For example: manufacturers must prove their activities and products are not harmful to health or environment before being granted permission to operate.

  • Work to remove restrictions on living standard being created. For example lowering barriers to housing and healthcare.

  • Generally operate a zero tolerance policy for counter sustainability activities.

And then make it transparent. Many British and Australian government and local government authorities are publishing GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) reports and in the US some are publishing indicator reports.

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