Table of Contents | Executive Summary
The strength, prosperity, and vitality of our communities is a
fundamental measure of our nation's success. As part of its effort
to create a national action strategy, the President's Council on
Sustainable Development established the Sustainable Communities
Task Force to examine and articulate the leadership role communities
are playing in creating a sustainable United States. The ten
Council members on the task force were charged with developing
consensus-based policy recommendations on how the United States can
create opportunities, reduce barriers, and encourage collaborative
partnerships to implement sustainable development locally.
The work of the task force began with a simple theory: local
communities are providing much of the initial impetus and
practical leadership for implementing the concepts of sustainable
development. Any national strategy for sustainable development must tap
into this energy and momentum and be rooted in the lessons learned
from these communities. Accordingly, task force members sought input
from community activists, business leaders, trade unionists,
developers, academics, architects, policy experts, and elected officials
and agency staff at all levels of government. In addition, through
a series of meetings, briefings, and roundtables, the task force
solicited the expertise and involvement of hundreds of
additional community leaders throughout the country.
Many of these community leaders participated in the six
working groups established by the task force as well as sharing
their knowledge on innovative programs and policies that are already
underway and achieving measurable results. The working
groups addressed a wide range of issues relevant to building
sustainable communities, including economic development and jobs, social
infrastructure, environmental justice, transportation and
infrastructure, housing and land use, financing, and public participation.
The working groups provided the foundation for the task force's
work. In a bottom-up process, materials developed by working groups
were integrated into task force draft issue statements, goals,
and policy recommendations.
To further ensure that the task
force's work was rooted in the realities facing
communities today, the task force worked with communities
to draft case studies, and asked the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency's Urban and
Economic Development Division to commission a compilation
of 51 community profiles. The case studies and
community profiles are not intended to serve as models,
but rather to highlight the diversity of
initiatives already underway, and to share lessons learned
by communities that are developing integrated approaches to social, economic, and environmental issues while emphasizing opportunities for broad public participation.
It is with immense gratitude that we recognize and thank the
hundreds of individuals who contributed to the Sustainable
Communities Task Force.
This final report reflects the synthesis of three years of
work, and it represents the consensus of council members who served
on the task force. While the task force's goals were ambitious,
its recommendations only begin to deal with the wide range of
challenges facing our nation's communities. But by addressing the
most important issues the task force identified, we hope this
report will stimulate a national discussion on how the concepts of
sustainable development can be applied in local decisionmaking to
make all of our communities better places in which to live.
Thomas R. Donahue
Task Force Co-chair