Landmarks for Sustainability

I met Wayne Visser about twelve years ago. He was studying the MSc in Human Ecology at the University of Edinburgh and I was volunteering at the Centre for Human Ecology. We were both fascinated by the ideas of new economics, sustainability and the place of business in all this. We must have discussed his dissertation project A Human Ecological Critique of the Financial Sector in the UK.

We're both still interested these issues, and with the world getting 'better and better, and worse and worse, faster and faster' (who said that?) it's easy to forgot how much has happened since then:

  • 1995: 2nd International Panel on Climate Change (yes, the 2nd!) predicted significant socioeconomic impacts. (I don't remember that.) World Trade Organisation (WTO) established (I remember this one.)
  • 1996: ISO 14001 environmental management standard launched. McSpotlight website set up (and the original leaflet which led to the McLibel case was printed in 1986!)
  • 1997: Social Venture Network founded in Europe. Marine Stewardship Council established.
  • 1998: Ethical Trading Initiative established. WRI/WBCSD Greenhouse Gas Protocol launched.
  • 1999: AA1000 Framework standard on accountability published. WTO protests in Seattle.
  • 2000: Kimberley Process to stop trade in conflict diamonds initiative launched. Carbon Disclosure Project launched.
  • 2001: Enron files for bankruptcy in the US. FTSE4Good launched in UK.
  • 2002: UN World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg (It was that long ago?)
  • 2003: Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative launched.
  • 2004: UN Norms on Business and Human Rights launched. Morgan Spurlock's Super Size Me documentary released (never got round to seeing it).
  • 2005: Make Poverty History campaign and Live 8. Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change issues first open letter. Transparency International's Bribe Payers' Index launched.
  • 2006: Muhammed Yunus and Grameen Bank awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Walmart (yes I know) commits to MSC fish stocks and organic cotton.

All this, and more, comes from Landmarks for Sustainability the book written by Wayne Visser for the University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability for Leadership. Sub-titled Events and initiatives that have changed our world, it is a broad ranging, easy to read, review of the last twenty years.

Everyone who's been involved in any of these areas of activism, innovation and development should have a copy. It's so easy to lose sight of how much has been going on across so many issues, and this book is a refreshing reminder - and a great resource to get a quick insight into developments across the whole field of sustainability.