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Creating the Triple Bottom Line of Sustainable Development: Healthier Economies, Communities and Ecosystems Debra Rowe, Ph.D. President

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Creating the Triple Bottom Line of Sustainable Development: Healthier Economies, Communities and Ecosystems

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Creating the Triple Bottom Line of Sustainable Development: Healthier Economies, Communities and Ecosystems

Debra Rowe, Ph.D.President

U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Developmentwww.uspartnership.orgSenior FellowUniversity Leaders for a Sustainable Futurewww.ulsf.orgCo-coordinator

Higher Education Associations’ Sustainability Consortium

Senior Advisor

Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education

  • Part IWhat is Sustainable Development?

  • Part II National Trends and Resources

  • Part III Actions Required

  • Part IV Next Steps

“meeting the needs of the present

without compromising the ability of

future generations to

meet their own needs”

World Commission on Env. and Development. (1987). Our Common Future. England: Oxford University Press.

Sustainable Development is often defined as:









The Three Components of Sustainable Development

What Businesses call “The Triple Bottom Line”

The United Nations has declared a Decade of Education for Sustainable Development2005-2014

Education for a Sustainable Society:“enables people to develop the knowledge, values and skills to participate in decisions …, that will improve the quality of life now without damaging the planet for the future.”



Sustainable Communities

Public Choices and


Applied Knowledge/ Technological


Private Choices and


Sustainable Economies



Why Sustainability Now?

We are the first generation capable of determining the habitability of the planet for humans and other species.  

Why Sustainability & Why Now?

“There is no longer any doubt that every ecosystem that life depends on is compromised and in danger.”

U.N. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005

Why Sustainability & Why Now?

“Climate change is for real. We have just a small window of opportunity and there is not a moment to lose.”

Dr. Rajendra Pachavri, Chairman, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, January, 2005

Disruption of food production and the food chain

More extreme weather events

Disruptions of ecosystems, including water supplies

Spread of disease e.g. West Nile, Malaria

Submersion of land masses –

was 1 to 4 foot sea level rise - now up to 48 feet

50% of world’s population lives on the coasts

(75% in 2050)

= Civilization disruption

Sources: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, EPA


Why EFS so Important?

  • Public unaware that we are exceeding the carrying capacity of the planet.

  • The U.S. has approximately 5% of the world’s population and is consuming 25% of the world’s resources.

  • Public unaware that we can build stronger economies that will reduce human suffering, environmental degradation and social injustice now.

  • A rapid shift in mindset is needed and education to action is the key

Global Perspective

life supporting resources


consumption of

life supporting resources



Fossil powered

Take, make, waste

Living off nature’s capital

Market as master

Loss of cultural & biological diversity

Individual centered

Materialism as goal


Solar powered

Cyclical production

Living off nature’s income

Market as servant

Increased cultural & biological diversity

Community centered

Human satisfaction goal

Global Transition

Why is this so important?

We bear a profound moral and social responsibility/opportunity to increase the awareness, knowledge, skills and values needed to create and implement viable solutions to the interconnected environmental, economic, and social problems that now threaten our physical survival as a species and threaten to increase human suffering.

Tzedakah – righteousness

Tikkun Olam – repairing the world

  • We can share the principles of Sustainability as the lens through which we collectively examine and act upon our shared world systems and through which we analyze our own individual lifestyles.

  • Outcome – a more just, healthy and prosperous society.

Part II

National Trends and Resources

Business principles of sustainability:

  • Cradle to Cradle (McDonough)

  • Biomimicry (Benyas – Like nature, efficient and not toxic)

  • World Business Council for Sustainable Development (

  • Natural Step (Sweden and U.S.)

  • Natural Capitalism (Lovins, Harvard Business Review)

Business principles of sustainability:

  • Business for Social Responsibility


  • Goldman Sachs, Citibank…

GREAT NEWS!!!Growing National Trend:Over 2 dozen national HE associations are creating initiatives on Education for Sustainable Development

ACE–Am. Council on Ed.

AACU – Ass. of American Colleges and Universities

AACC – Am. Ass. of Community Colleges

AASCU – State Colleges and Universities


Governing Boards


Campus Activities


Educational Buyers


Facilities Officers


Business Officers

10. SCUP – College and University Planners

11. ACUI – Student Unions

12. ACPA – Student Affairs

13. NACUFS – Food

14. ACEED-I – Events and Conference Directors

15. NACS – Campus Stores


Engaged National Associations

HE Sustainability Examples

  • Systemic integration

    • University of Florida

    • Georgia Tech

    • University of Michigan

    • Syracuse University

  • Curricula

    • Northern Arizona and Arizona State Universities

    • University of Georgia

    • Emory

    • Minnesota

    • St. Olaf and Alverno

    • Lane and Oakland and Maricopa Comm. College

    • Too many to list – hundreds of colleges

U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development

Sector Teams: Business, Higher Education, K-12, Communities,Faith…

Trends and resources in other sectors – some examples

  • Communities - Mayors Climate Protection and Smart Growth, Federal Summit II, GR model

  • Business - LOHAS, U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Development, SOL Sustainability Consortium, CERES, Businesses for Social Responsibility

  • K-12 – Nat. Assoc. of Independent Schools, U.S. Partnership

  • Faith - National Religious Partnership and Interfaith Alliance, Regeneration Project, COEJL – Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life

Part III

Actions Required

Students and staff at Hillel institutions have an important and unique contribution to make to a sustainable future

What other organizations have done – Possibilities for You

  • Curricula

  • Professional Development

  • Standards – Tenure, Building, Operations, Endowments

  • Pledges – Sustainability and Climate Neutrality

  • Legislation Formation

  • Public Information

  • Cross- Sector projects

Higher Education Associations Sustainability Consortium (

Sample Resources for your members to use and improve from ACPA and others:

  • Learning Outcomes

  • Change Agent/Civic Engagement Skills

  • List of possible campus activities

  • Sustainability primer

  • Socially/environmentally responsible operations



Change norms so all students and the Jewish community becomes:

  • environmentally responsible

  • socially responsible

  • economically responsible

Key places to place it and institutionalize it with each Hillel:

Programming for student life

Programming for the community

Permanent signs


Hillel and HE Mission and Planning

Interaction in the community and the world

Learn and explore

(i) the facts regarding ecosystem degradation, human suffering and economic regulations;

(ii) the importance of real economic and social and political freedom;

(iii) what social scientists and others know about how to change societal culture and

CHANGE IT! It is powerful and fun!!

Make sustainability behaviors and policies the new norm!!!

Examples of how students can make a difference in this world:1. South Africa divestment2. Jewish involvement in civil rights… 3. The Nike story4. Campus climate challenge (

Building self-concepts in yourself and others You can help change society!!Imagine students literate in the real world sustainability challenges and engaged in the solutionsProvide the models and opportunities for practicing the changing of behaviors and policies

Imagine a country where all college students get credit for helping to solve our societal problems through their academic assignments.

Real world sustainability projects

Match making website –

Students can work on real world sustainability projects from government, business, non-profits, etc.

Assignments that make a difference in the world.

Build a positive change agent self-concept!

Examples of Student Led ProjectsAcademic Credit for Students

  • Sustainability audits

  • Sustainable purchasing

  • Campaigns to change company practices (e.g. Nike, endowments)

  • Greenhouse gas reductions ( and

  • Student generated film and speaker series, poetry nights, behavior campaigns, and futures fairs

  • Green building designs and sustainable living “campaigns”

  • Info on sustainability in career office, orientation, first year experience

  • Many more possibilities

Helpful simulation tool

“We Can Afford to Solve the World’s Problems – The World Game Institute - 18 strategies for confronting the major systemic problems confronting humanity”

Students–Beyond Armchair pontification!

Provide academic and student life

opportunities to build

CHANGE AGENT identities, skills and behaviors

  • Campus Ecology

  • U.S. Fair Trade

  • Climate Challenge Campaign - and

Help students understand the

consequences of their choices as consumers and investors

  • The Natural Step -

  • Smart Consumer’s Website -

  • Consumer and Investor Power for Social Change -

  • Ecological Footprint Calculator - http://www.rprogress.organd

  • Center for a New American Dream –

Utilize outside stakeholders and powerful cross sector collaboration


    • Businesses

    • City and county government

    • Non-profit organizations

    • Alumni

Key strategies to build the perceived critical mass

  • Positioning the initiative as the least threatening choice

  • Key places to place it and institutionalize it – Mission, Strategic Planning, Orientation, Curricula Review, First Year Experience, Student Life

  • Combine diversity, international education, service learning, environmental, human rights groups to work for sustainability

  • Preventing burnout

PreventingBurnout - The ABCs

Ask for help - Build Support Systems - Celebrate the Baby Steps of Success

Dream big! - Eliminate Griping & Move to Problem Solving

Foster Self-care, Physical & Mental Health

Get Flexible and Take a Multi-pronged Long-term Approach

Humor those who participate - Involve everyone affected by decisions

Jazz up meetings with creativity - Keep on keepin’ on to get energy

Laugh a lot - Make light of problems - Nature is renewing: connect with it!

Open your eyes and heart to the beauty around you

Picture your joy when the tide starts to turn

Quit worrying! - Re-live past successes to renew commitment

Say the kind things every time you think of one - Thank all who helped

Understand that slow beats stop - Visualize the joy of success

Wait with confidence that your persistence will matter

Xeroxa joke of the day with your logo to hand out

Yell a little, just for fun

Zealously assure yourself a good night’s rest every night!

Thanks to Norma T Bauer

Skills: Be An Agent of Change:

Create new norms at the university

  • 1st semester – Educate

  • 2nd semester – Engage in a changing the world campaign

  • 2nd year – Create new campaigns

  • Create brown bag lunches – invite everyone

  • Use, “I’m wondering…”

  • THINK and ACT BIG!!!

Use the media strategically

  • As often as possible

  • Create new angles

  • Multiple avenues for multiple audiences

Imagine a world where…

national trends in the business sector, higher education sector and faith sector come together…

to demand and support legislation that will foster a sustainable future

Emphasize the benefits - Embracing esd can:

  • Students prepared for citizenship and career

  • Attraction of students, faculty, community and funding

  • Save $ and other resources for Hillel and society while reducing pollution and human suffering

  • Create pilots that are national models (e.g. freshman pledge for sustainability)

  • Help improve town/gown relationships

  • Fulfill moral and social responsibility

  • Improve strategic positioning regarding higher education


1.The U.S. public is not educated enough about sustainability issues and solutions.

2.We need sustainability literacy and engagement for ALL. We all need skills to change consumption, investment and civic behaviors and to support appropriate market modifications (legislation) for sustainability.

3.Learn systems thinking and change agent skills

4.Model life long learning and change agent identities

5.Some exciting developments, too many to report, but much more needs to be done. You are in a key position to make this happen.

6.There are many resources and strategies to help you infuse sustainability into Hillel, higher education and the larger society. We can assist you.

7.Document all you do and share.

More Resources for your Association

  • Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education –

  • Higher Education Associations’ Sustainability Consortium –

  • Association of University Leaders for a Sustainable Future –

  • U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development –

  • Stuart Hart, Jeff Sachs, Prahalad, David Orr, Bill McDonough, Loeb

We can choose our future


The Power of What You Do

  • We can choose a sustainable future

Core Questions for Next Steps1. What low hanging fruit can we implement immediately?2. What are the key strategic actions we can take to shift to a sustainable society as soon as possible?Let our enthusiasm show!

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