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Obama Sounds the Sustainable Development Horn

Terry Mock, SLDI Co-founder

By Terry Mock
Follow Terry on Twitter: @SustainLandDev

December 2008

During the tension-filled press conference to announce key members of his economic team on November 24th, U.S. President-Elect Obama laid out the broad strokes of his plan to revitalize the U.S. economy by focusing on massive investment in development infrastructure designed to boost the economy short-term, and better position the country for long-term prosperity:

“Beyond any immediate actions we may take, we need a recovery plan for both Wall Street and Main Street, a plan that stabilizes our financial system and gets credit flowing again, while at the same time addressing our growing foreclosure crisis, helping our struggling auto industry and creating and saving 2.5 million jobs – jobs rebuilding our infrastructure, our roads, our bridges, modernizing our schools and creating the clean energy infrastructure of the 21st century.”

In concluding, Obama described his plans by specifically injecting the word “sustain(able)” five times:

“Not only do I want the stimulus package to deal with the immediate crisis. I want it also to lay the groundwork for long-term sustained economic growth. We’ve got to make sure that the investments are made to sustain economic growth over the long term…And then what we also have to do as part of this package, and this is going to be one of the major charges to my economic team, is that we reform how business is done in Washington and how the budgeting process works, how projects are done, so that we have a path towards a sustainable and responsible budget scenario down the line…So the way to think about it is, short term we’ve got to focus on boosting the economy and creating 2.5 million jobs, but part and parcel of that is a plan for a sustainable fiscal situation long term, and that’s going to require some reforms in Washington. Any additional money that we put into the auto industry, any help that we provide, is designed to assure a long-term, sustainable auto industry and not just kicking the can down the road.”

Obama’s blueprint for economic stimulus has received approval from many quarters, both domestically and abroad, including the People’s Daily which reported, “The brilliant part of this plan is that, not only is Obama viewing the current catastrophe as a crisis, but as a historical opportunity.” According to this line of thought, the plan is to combine the financial cushion of the bailout, with the social benefits of education investment and medical insurance, together with energy independence and environmental protection. This holistic triple-bottom-line approach reportedly “will lay a “solid foundation for the long-term sustainable development of the US economy.”

Follow the Money

We will be watching closely to see if the new US President has the ability and political will to follow through when members of Congress push back as established coffers are inevitably threatened as a result of these proposed changes.

On the other hand, there continues to be increasingly powerful demand for change such as that being proposed. According to a post-election note entitled “Achieving a Sustainable Global Economy” from Ceres, an investor network controlling $7 trillion with the mission of integrating sustainability into capital markets, “The stumbling financial markets show the consequences of unfettered pursuit of profits in a system that has no debits on the ledger for environmental degradation and no credits for a social conscience. We must accept the offer made last night by the president-elect to “join in the work of remaking the nation.” And we must hold our new leaders to their promise to reform the instruments of our society to assure a future that is livable, safe and just for everyone.”

Regardless of political affiliation, we all must accept the offer to remake our nation, and collectively hold our leaders’ “feet to the fire” to deliver. SLDI, a developer-led and cooperatively-owned technology and information resource company, is now fully positioned to transform the industry that creates the very infrastructure of our civilization. Sustainable development starts with our global infrastructure. If it is unsustainable, ultimately nothing else can be.

Your participation and comments are welcome.


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