New Book Offers Expert Recommendations for a Sustainable United States


As the global movement for social and environmental justice gains momentum, we are in need of grounded and implementable solutions. A new book co-edited by Scott Schang and me–Governing for Sustainability–provides just that. The book recommends steps to advance each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), global goals unanimously approved by United Nations Member States in 2015.

Sustainable development may be one of the most important and potentially transformational ideas to come out of the last century. While the United States has a substantial body of environmental and social protection laws, we are far from being a sustainable society. In this book, 22 experts recommend steps the United States should take now and achieve by 2030 to advance each of these SDGs. The book provides nearly 500 recommendations for federal, state, tribal, territorial, and local governments, as well as the private sector and civil society. The various contributions that personal behavior can make toward both public and private governance are included as well.

The book shows that sustainable development is not only about environmental justice; it is also about social justice.  In addition, climate change is an urgent issue running across all of the SDGS.  The book also shows the value of the SDGs in developing law reform agendas and activating stakeholders—something Scott and I addressed in an earlier article.

These recommendations would help make America a better place for all—in environmental, social, economic, and national security terms.

Everyone has a role to play–whatever you do, whatever your skills and abilities, whatever your job, and whatever your age.

We are pleased that the book has received many pre-publication endorsements.  Here are a few of them:

“Sustainable development can feel overwhelming in its enormity. John Dernbach and Scott Schang have brought together a remarkable coalition of authors in a volume that both embraces that enormity and makes it concrete,” explained ELI President Jordan Diamond. “From exploring the rationale behind the Sustainable Development Goals, to tracking progress to date, to clear recommendations for how to accelerate progress, the book shows how sustainable development can go—and must go—from a talking point to a reality.”

Governing for Sustainability offers an inspired, timely, and important roadmap for meeting the wide ranging political, economic, and social justice challenges our nation faces in achieving sustainability,” said Richard Lazarus, Howard J. and Katherine W. Aibel Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. “Each chapter, authored by one or more of the nation’s leading experts, is a treasure to be mined.”

Vickie Patton, General Counsel of Environmental Defense Fund, praised the book, stating “Governing for Sustainability is a clarion call to action together with a blueprint of solutions for the United States to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. . . . It is important and compelling reading for policymakers, business leaders, engaged members of the public, and all who seek to contribute, now, to a more sustainable society for all people.”

And Roger Martella, Chief Sustainability Officer for General Electric, said the book “serves a critical function by bringing together the top thought leaders in providing the turn-by-turn directions on how to successfully navigate each SDG at a time when the urgency has never been greater.”

For more information, including the table of contents and many other endorsements, click here.