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               In the early 1970s, photographs of Earth taken from space showed us the important global perspective that our planet is united by ecological systems that cannot be divided by political boundaries. These photos helped inspire the first Earth Day, and countries around the world started creating environmental agencies and passing protective laws. Modern environmental policy began, in part, with this global perspective in mind.

                Protecting the environment is not done in fragments of time. Although the first Earth Summit in 1992 called for action at a local level to address sustainability, local action is not common.2 Environmental policy evolves along with the ongoing coordination of state-of-the-art technology, scientific and sociological forces. Our understanding of the causes of environmental degradation has evolved in line with changes in environmental laws and socioeconomic needs. This evolution has caused us to rethink the way we do business.

Protecting the environment is not done in fragments of time.

                Achieving sustainability requires a coordinated and balanced approach, through enhanced inter-agency and inter-governmental cooperation. We need to further protect our natural resources in a way that involves new, results-based methods that provide opportunities for economic development and social equity.

                Today, we live in a different world. We can no longer take for granted the freedoms upon which democracies were founded. If the economic and environmental systems of the world are not sustainable, states will no longer enjoy long term sustainability, as we cannot exist as islands of prosperity surrounded by instability.


                Subsidiarity principle3 aside, New Jersey has gone beyond geographic borders and conventional state scale in thinking and initiatives. Other sustainability initiatives that do not have a direct international connection also serve as feasible examples for other states and nations to consider.

                In January 2002, the state released a new report, Governing with the Future in Mind,4 that builds on a previous report describing progress and strategies to achieve 11 sustainability goals with 41 indicators that relate to these goals. The report is an inter-agency document coordinated by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and approved by the state Governor. New Jersey's Sustainable State goals include environmental protection, economic vitality, decent housing, quality education, healthy people, equity, efficient transportation, and strong communities, culture and recreation.

Responsible government calls for continual progress, not only in improving the quality of life for today's citizens, but for future generations as well. The report will help strengthen the integration of sustainability into the core missions of state agencies, as well as interagency cooperation, a need noted in the 1989 United Nations report, Our Common Future, which put sustainability on the map. This is the first time in New Jersey−and probably, in the nation−that state-level strategies are linked to sustainability goals.

The report also proposes the development of a new goal in New Jersey that relates our pursuit of sustainability to the need for it at a global scale. It suggests that indicators such as participation in national and international efforts to promote sustainability. sustainability-oriented investments in developing countries by state corporations, and contributions by corporations and citizens to organizations promoting sustainable development in third-world countries are effective ways to measure progress towards this goal. If this goal is successfully integrated state-wide through a public process led by New Jersey's new Sustainable State Institute, it will lead to a greater awareness of the interconnectedness of the pursuit of sustainability and will encourage closer relationships with other countries.

Seton Hall Journal of Diplomacy and International Relation

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