Recently Published Article Authored by Robert C. Shinn, Jr.

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The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's
Non-Traditional Role in Promoting Sustainable
Development Internationally1

                By Robert C. Shinn, Jr. and Matt Polsky


As states and countries throughout the World prepare for the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg this fall, they will do so in a new era of environmental policy that requires government to think beyond traditional problems and approaches, to look beyond its borders and to see how it can work with other levels of government. Working towards a sustainable environment is in everyone's interest and is everyone's responsibility. States can, and should, serve as catalysts to set the example for others to follow, working in partnership with local authorities, national governments, and international institutions toward common goals.


There is a commonly accepted principle in international affairs, called "subsidiarity principle," that states that each problem is best addressed at the level most affected by the problem; problems should thus be addressed at the lowest level at which they can be solved. While this approach often has merit − and it makes sense that the level of government action should meet the level of the problem − in many cases lower levels of government do not tackle issues that are conventionally considered to be of a larger scale. Global warming is one example of a global scale issue that also has local implications.

The state of New Jersey has not only begun to deal with the causes of global warming, but, in a unique manner, has shown that local governments can exert positive influence on others by crossing levels of government to address such problems and contribute to the shaping of global policy.

Robert C. Shinn, Jr., the longest-serving New Jersey Environmental Protection Commissioner (1994 to 2002), became a national/international leader in many organizations including: the Environmental Council of States, the Center for Clean Air Policy, the Environmental Research Institute of the States, the North American Research Strategy for Tropospheric Ozone, the Ozone Transport Commission and the Ozone Transport Assessment Group. He is now president of S2 Concepts, an environmental consulting firm to promote sustainability and stewardship projects.

Matt Polsky is the Sustainability Leader at the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. He has a B.A. from Rutgers College, an M.B.A. & M.A. from N.Y.U., plus  additional undergraduate and graduate work at eight universities, including Seton Hall University's U.N. Intensive Summer Study Program. He has also worked as a marketing

manager in business, for an N.G.O., taught environmental politics at Cook College, and worked on educational committees for his local school system.  


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