EPA asked the Committee on Incorporating Sustainability in the U.S. EPA to address the question “What should be the operational framework for sustainability for EPA?” The primary design feature of such a framework is that it support and guide EPA’s actions to further sustainability goals. On the basis of presentations made to the committee by various representatives of EPA and other experts, the sustainability literature, and the experience of committee members, certain other key attributes of the operational framework are suggested. The framework will more likely be successful if it is (1) transparent and clear, (2) practical to implement within the existing program structure of EPA, (3) leads to goals and objectives that can be measured and reported publicly, (4) provides flexibility to deal with scientific, technical and economic developments over long time frames (more than 5 years), (5) works consistently with the current risk assessment/risk management paradigm, and (6) facilitates decision making that supports EPA’s ongoing mission to protect human health and the environment.
EPA has made progress in implementing sustainability within the agency and in providing opportunities to advance sustainable practices by other agencies and organizations in the United States through its programs, research and development (R&D), and regulatory mandates. However, clarifying its intent to incorporate sustainability concepts and practices across and within the organization will help to accelerate progress toward achieving EPA’s overarching sustainability goals as discussed later in the chapter. Although media-specific approaches still exist within EPA, one strength of a sustainability approach is that it encourages cross-media approaches. Additionally, the committee does not anticipate EPA will use the Sustainability Framework for all decisions, but does anticipate that over
time there will be an increasing use of the framework. As with all decision making at EPA, uncertainty needs to be acknowledged and addressed, the approach needs to be transparent, and key stakeholders need to be engaged.
Figures 3-1 and 3-2 illustrate the committee’s recommended Sustainability Framework for EPA. The overall approach is driven by sustainability principles and goals and involves setting, meeting, and reporting on measurable performance objectives. As such, the approach reflects an overall management system framework for sustainability. The framework includes a specific “Sustainability Management and Assessment” component for incorporating sustainability into individual EPA decisions and actions, represented by the inset in Figures 3-1 and 3-2. The Sustainability Assessment and Management process is intended to be applicable to all types of issues, including human health and ecological risks. Similar approaches have been used successfully in both the private and public sectors, including several examples described in Box 3-1. In addition, the committee was informed by several efforts to synthesize the literature on sustainable development and propose sustainability frameworks (including Graedel and Klee 2002; Marshall and Toffel 2005; Porritt 2007; Jabareen 2008). In fact, EPA has been a user and promoter of environmental-management-system frameworks. This topic was the subject of Executive Order 13148, which was later reaffirmed by President Bush’s administration in a 2006 memorandum “Commitment to the Integration and Utilization of Environmental Management Systems” (EPA 2006). The agency has also prepared guidance for developing environmental-management-system frameworks for organizations and businesses, noting in its introductory remarks to these entities, “As one of your organization’s leaders, you probably know that interest in environmental protection and sustainable development is growing each year. You might hear about these issues from customers, the public, or others. Like many, your organization may be increasingly challenged to demonstrate its commitment to the environment. Implementing an [environmental management system] can help you meet this challenge in several important ways” (EPA 2008).
A management system framework will accelerate incorporation of sustainability into the operational activities of EPA, which has many motivated and committed professionals who enjoy their jobs and do them well with the goal of protecting public health and ecosystem health. The framework will guide their management of competing priorities and the “pushes and pulls” inherent in their roles by providing a basis for setting priorities based in part on sustainability considerations. In particular, decision makers in the agency at all levels have a special responsibility in considering and making the trade-offs and finding balances inherent in a sustainability framework. This recommended operational framework for sustainability will accelerate alignment and culture
FIGURE 3-2 A framework for EPA sustainability decisions (Level 1). This level consists of a number of components that define the agency-wide process.
A management-system approach, built on vision, objectives, goals, and metrics, is a commonly used approach to changing cultures and delivering significant course corrections and performance improvement. A well-known example of this approach is the setting of the U.S. aspiration to send a man to the moon, with a safe return, by President John F. Kennedy. This vision and goal set into motion strategic planning and goal setting that helped the country to achieve what was then, and is now, a remarkable breakthrough. Many other government agencies have used this kind of approach—for example, in the eradication of certain infectious diseases and reduction of smoking rates. Currently, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is using a similar approach (USGS 2007, 2010) by realigning its management and budget structure to support a newly developed science strategy designed to address the major scientific issues facing the nation, including global climate change, water resources, natural hazards, energy and minerals, ecosystems, and data integration (USGS 2007, 2010).
Several NGOs have been involved in collaborative sustainability activities, including the World Resources Institute, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the World Wildlife Fund. Additionally, sustainability has been embraced as a cost-effective organizing principle by the private industry. For example, Proctor & Gamble (P&G) recently released a long-term vision in sustainability and new 2020 goals related to products, operations, and social responsibility (P&G 2011). Similarly, Unilever released its Sustainable Living Plan which includes 50 goals related to the company’s environmental impacts of its products (Unilever 2011). Wal-Mart has also made enormous changes in energy and resource consumption in their supply chains (Quinn 2009).
change in the agency and provide a platform for more integrated decision making in the future.
EPA is already engaged in many projects and approaches that further sustainability aims, but adoption of this approach with staged and programmatic implementation will lead to a growing body of agency successes and experiences with the incorporation of sustainability. The adoption of the overall management system approach could occur quickly, and the use of the Sustainability Assessment and Management process can be phased in over time on agency decisions and actions.
Much of the acceleration of progress will occur as the culture of EPA moves toward incorporation of sustainability, and as EPA’s intentions and goals in sustainability become clear to employees. The good work of EPA already in progress is encouraged, and more experimentation in the program offices and in the regions will help lead the way to a new EPA culture.
The Sustainability Framework is organized into a two-level process and is presented in Figure 3-1. Level 1 consists of a number of components that define
the agency-wide process (Figure 3-2). Level 1 components are depicted in gray and described in this chapter. Level 2 (Figure 4-1) articulates the elements of the Sustainability Assessment and Management component that are described in Chapter 4.
Level 1 of the Sustainability Framework, described below, includes the sustainability paradigm, principles, and legal mandates that feed into the process; EPA’s sustainability vision as well as objectives, goals, and indicators and “metrics” (see Appendix C); organization and culture; sustainability assessment and management; and periodic evaluation and public reporting activities.
Sustainability Paradigm, EPA Sustainability Principles, and Legal Mandates
EPA needs to specify and acknowledge a set of principles and assumptions that underlie its approach to sustainability. First, the committee recommends that EPA formally adopt as its sustainability paradigm the “Three Pillars” approach of “Social,” “Environment,” and “Economic” dimensions of sustainability as a well-recognized and established model for evaluating sustainability in its decisions. The committee recognizes that there are other sustainability models and paradigms, but the “Three Pillars” model has stood the test of time in many organizational implementations owing to its utility and its relative simplicity and clarity. For example, the United Nations et al. (2003) has noted that this three-pillar approach to sustainable development is widely held, wide-ranging, and complex. EPA already has a strong focus on the environmental component of the paradigm and on the social pillar as it relates to managing human health risks. However, an integrated approach across all dimensions has not been the usual practice of EPA. The “Three Pillars” approach should become a key part of educating all employees about agency philosophy, principles, and performance expectations. It is a powerful yet simple paradigm for explaining and incorporating the key dimensions of sustainable development. (The “Three Pillars” approach is also commonly known as the “Triple Bottom Line” approach. As explained in Chapter 2, the roots of both are the same.) Neither the pillar labeled “environment” nor the “social” pillar explicitly convey the inclusion of human health and well-being. The social pillar traditionally includes human health aspects (Chapter 2) and the inclusion of human health under it would be made transparent by defining it as the “social pillar (including human health).” This inclusion would clarify the important place of human health in the Sustainability Framework. The committee recognizes that the social pillar also includes environmental justice and employment, among other things, but human health deserves explicit mention because of its historical role as part of the agency’s mission.
It is important for EPA to optimize all three of the pillars of sustainability. Although addressing economic issues is not a core part of EPA’s mission, it is explicitly part of the definition of sustainability (NEPA, E. O.13514). Inherent in the definition of sustainability is the recognition of the importance of the three pillars. Optimizing this three pillar approach is key to the Trade-off Analysis and Synergy component of the Sustainability Framework. The economic factors in question will depend, in part, on the decision at hand, and how to address those factors will depend on the tool EPA chooses in its analysis. Decisions that further one of the three pillars should, to the extent possible, further the other two. Where EPA has the legal authority to consider economic factors, integrating sustainability into EPA’s decision making means furthering all three pillars as much as possible at the same time.
Second, and equally important, EPA could benefit from formally developing, adopting, and publishing a set of broad “EPA Sustainability Principles,” which underlie all agency policies and programs. These principles would guide the agency’s implementation of regulatory mandates and discretionary programs in ways to optimize benefits as they relate to the three pillars—social, environmental, and economic. Several key principles of public administration include openness and transparency, reliability, accountability, efficiency, and effectiveness (OECD 1999). A wide variety of principles have been articulated by government agencies, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), international governmental organizations (IGOs), and companies. Box 3-2 identifies sample principles that have been used internationally or by specific countries. The committee included these principles for illustration purposes only. Although EPA has had agency-wide guiding principles (EPA 1997) and may utilize or research sustainability principles for particular applications (EPA 2007), it has yet to clearly articulate a broad set of sustainability principles to guide decisions agency-wide. The most widely cited and used set of principles in the world are the sustainable development principles from the Rio Declaration of 1992 (Chapter 2). Others have been developed within the OECD, where the United States has joined in the consensus leading to their adoption. Some of the key dimensions of the principles that EPA should debate and adopt include intergenerational and intragenerational equity,1 justice, and a holistic-systems approach to environmental problems and solutions. Abbott and Marchant (2010) stated that a “notable aspect of sustainability
1 Professor Edith Brown Weiss explained intergenerational equity as having three elements, including an intragenerational aspect. First, each generation should conserve the options of future generations by conserving “the diversity of the natural and cultural resource base.” Second, each generation is entitled to a quality of planet enjoyed by prior generations, and also has an obligation to pass to the next generation a quality of planet that is no worse than it received. Third, all people in the current generation should have the same minimal level of access to this legacy. Because poverty and environmental degradation are inseparably linked, equity within the current generation is necessary for equity between generations (Weiss 1989).
Some selected principles developed internationally to guide sustainability efforts are listed below.
Rio Declaration (described in Chapter 2)
• “In order to achieve sustainable development, environmental protection shall constitute an integral part of the development process and cannot be considered in isolation from it.”
• Precautionary approach: “Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.”
• Intergenerational equity: The Rio Declaration acknowledges the need “to equitably meet developmental and environmental needs of present and future generations.”
• Internalization of environmental costs: The “approach that the polluter should, in principle, bear the cost of pollution,” is reflected in varying degrees throughout U.S. environmental law.
• “Environmental issues are best handled with participation of all concerned citizens, at the relevant level” (UNCED 1992).
OECD Environmental Strategy for the First Decade of the Twenty-first Century
• “Regeneration: Renewable resources shall be used efficiently and their use shall not be permitted to exceed their long-term rates of natural regeneration.”
• “Substitutability: Non-renewable resources shall be used efficiently and their use limited to levels which can be offset by substitution by renewable resources or other forms of capital.”
• “Assimilation: Releases of hazardous or polluting substances to the environment shall not exceed its assimilative capacity; concentrations shall be kept below established critical levels necessary for the protection of human health and the environment.”
• “Avoiding Irreversibility: Irreversible adverse effects of human activities on ecosystems and on biogeochemical and hydrological cycles shall be avoided” (OECD 2001).
is its holistic and cross-cutting nature—it cannot be achieved by any single rule, statute, or agency” (p.1924).
Third, EPA would benefit from making sustainability part of the “how” EPA goes about implementing its regulatory authorities and objectives, thus creating more value in its work but not at the expense of its responsibilities under the law. Implementing its regulatory mandates is the core work of the agency. Also, under the Sustainability Framework, EPA would continue to promote human well-being and protect human health in implementing core mandates while more deliberately addressing the other dimensions (e.g., giving ecosystem well-being higher prior-
Australia’s National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development’s Guiding Principles
• “Decision making processes should effectively integrate both long and short-term economic, environmental, social and equity considerations.”
• “Where there are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation.”
• “The global dimension of environmental impacts of actions and policies should be recognised and considered.”
• “The need to develop a strong, growing and diversified economy which can enhance the capacity for environmental protection should be recognized.”
• “The need to maintain and enhance international competitiveness in an environmentally sound manner should be recognized.”
• “Cost effective and flexible policy instruments should be adopted, such as improved valuation, pricing and incentive mechanisms.”
• “Decisions and actions should provide for broad community involvement on issues which affect them” (AESDSC 1992).
Canada’s Federal Sustainable Development Strategy
The Federal Sustainable Development Act (FSDA) states that “The Government of Canada accepts the basic principle that sustainable development is based on an ecologically efficient use of natural, social and economic resources.” The government of Canada’s approach to sustainable development therefore reflects a commitment to minimize the environmental impacts of its policies and operations as well as maximize the efficient use of natural resources and other goods and services. Canada’s environmental policy is guided by the precautionary principle and is reflected in the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS) as required by the Federal Sustainable Development Act, which states that the Minister of Environment must “develop a Federal Sustainable Development Strategy based on the precautionary principle” (Environment Canada 2010).
ity than in previous EPA efforts). EPA is in a unique position to further sustainability opportunities for all stakeholders by implementing this framework and by working collaboratively to find more optimal sustainability solutions.
EPA Sustainability Vision
A clear statement of sustainability vision is an important step to helping all EPA employees understand and execute their responsibilities in sustainability. EPA needs to formally develop and specify its vision for sustainability. Vision,
in the sense discussed here, is a future state that EPA is trying to reach or is trying to help the country or the world to reach. There is literature evaluating whether visions promote organizational effectiveness (Zaccaro and Banks 2001, Kantabutra 2010, O’Connell et al. 2011), including conceptual models developed to evaluate how visions promote organizational effectiveness suggest that they do influence organizational effectiveness in several ways (Projasek 2003, Parrish 2010), including by “providing a source of envisioned empowerment that motivates followers” (Zaccaro and Klimoski 2001). Although EPA has always had clear statements of mission, times call for a very clear articulation of the sustainability vision that EPA is trying to help deliver through its work. It is important that EPA debate and adopt a sustainability vision as an organic process to guide the agency forward.
EPA’s stated mission—to protect human health and the environment—appropriately reflects the agency’s statutory authority. In addition to its mission, EPA lists seven specific purposes that explain the mission (see Chapter 1 for discussion about EPA’s mission). For example, one purpose for EPA is “to ensure that environmental protection is an integral consideration in U.S. policies concerning natural resources, human health, economic growth, energy, transportation, agriculture, industry, and international trade, and these factors are similarly considered in establishing environmental policy” (EPA 2011). Another purpose is “to ensure that environmental protection contributes to making our communities and ecosystems diverse, sustainable and economically productive” (EPA 2011). Together with the mission statement, those purposes address the question; Why does EPA exist? They also reflect sustainability principles. Still, EPA may wish to reconsider these statements at the same time it finalizes its sustainability vision to assure coherence and clarity.
EPA Objectives, Goals, Indicators, and Metrics
Once articulated, the sustainability vision will be a touchstone in the future that guides the setting of objectives and goals. EPA could benefit from considering a goal-setting approach that starts with a long-term vision. One such approach, for illustration, is a “backcasting” approach developed for sustainability (Holmberg and Robert 2000, Natural Step 2011).
In backcasting, a future vision is articulated. With that vision in mind, goals and objectives are developed for immediate implementation that in a shorter term will help the organization to make significant progress toward the long-term vision (Natural Step 2011). Setting several breakthrough 3-5 year objectives2 could assist EPA in delivering a new level of performance in driving more sus-
2 Commonly referred to in the business community, breakthrough objectives are goals that extend far beyond the current capabilities and experiences of an organization and require new strategies and approaches to ensure successful attainment of these goals. These objectives are generally designed to improve performance throughout an organization.
tainable outcomes and most important, will guide EPA employees in seeing the commitment of agency leadership to new ways of operating. For example, EPA can specify several 3-5 year objectives and associated short-term measureable goals that advance the agency and the country toward the sustainability vision. For illustration purposes only, EPA could set a 3-5 year objective that “by 2015, the EPA will have facilitated 25 green infrastructure projects that deliver regulatory performance comparable to conventional pollution control systems, but at lower costs, with higher conservation values and outcomes, and measurable net job creation.”
This kind of objective would be a strong signal of the need to shift to place-based sustainability projects and experimentation with green infrastructure approaches. The indicators for assessing performance against this objective could be the number of green infrastructure projects completed, associated cumulative value of cost savings and ecosystem service value gained, and human health risk reduction. Again, this example is only for illustrative purposes; however, the pursuit of breakthrough 3-5 year objectives, chosen well, could help EPA reshape its culture and its cross-program teamwork and help all employees—headquarters and regional—align their professional goals and activities. The NRC (2006) noted that “successfully targeting and sustaining programs linking knowledge with action for sustainability generally requires a clear, readily understood statement of the beneficial outcomes that successful project completion would deliver. Operationally, this translates into the articulation of clear, broadly shared goals, and the development and operational measurement of generally accepted indicators of goal achievement” (p.18).
Organization and Culture
Identifying and communicating the objectives selected, the indicators and the associated metrics needed for implementation is the next step. EPA could benefit from staying focused on implementation and minimizing structural changes in the organization to help it embrace the new goals and objectives in the current organizational configuration. To a great extent, the committee’s primary focus is much more on developing a new culture of sustainability in the agency (Chapter 6) rather than on organizational changes. The agency could benefit from specifically focusing on education, learning, and alignment of senior staff, and eventually all employees, with the new sustainability approach and the roles everyone can play in helping to accelerate progress. The fastest progress will be made through empowering the employees of EPA and by building a strong sustainability culture at the agency.
The Office of Research and Development (ORD) has already begun to organize its programs around sustainability-related themes (Figure 3-3), which is consistent with the “sustainability journey” described, and several EPA regional programs have also begun to think about their programs and projects in a new
FIGURE 3-3 Reorganization themes of the Office of Research and Development.
SOURCE: Hecht 2010.
sustainability-oriented manner (Chapter 7). Organizing programs and themes around accomplishing sustainability objectives can accelerate progress.
Sustainability Assessment and Management
The overall framework covers the highest levels of visioning and goal setting for EPA, but it also covers the daily implementation of sustainability as part of the ongoing decisions and actions. The component of the framework “Sustainability Assessment and Management,” provides a decision-making approach for incorporation of sustainability into the daily work of the agency. It is intended to deal with the “nuts and bolts” of implementation. Chapter 4 of this report is devoted to describing the elements of the Sustainability Assessment and Management component and the analytic tools for use in applying it.
EPA at all levels, offices, and regions faces daily decisions and potential actions in various contexts—for example, routine permitting, enforcement actions, reviewing significant new-use chemical applications, development of regulations, and major policy initiatives. The general approach recommended by the committee for sustainability assessment and management—laid out as Level 2 in Figure 3-3 and discussed in greater depth in Chapter 4—will need to be shaped for application in EPA’s various programs, and some routine decision making may not be best served by formal sustainability reviews for each project.
EPA will need to decide what kinds of activities or actions to address in a sustainability assessment process. Adopting a sustainability framework is discretionary, and EPA will choose where to focus its attention and resources. For example, the agency may wish to focus on major new rules, programs, or policies; priorities for program improvement; and complex and important emerging issues, such as the periodic review of the impacts of biofuels production and use required by Congress (Public Law 110-140). Another option could be for EPA’s program and regional offices to be tasked with selecting priority initiatives or activities in their fields of work for sustainability assessments. The choices made may or may not be related to the goals set at the beginning. Certain categories of actions, such as routine permits, grants, and enforcement actions, could be excluded altogether from consideration for sustainability review, or the agency could decide to infuse sustainability thinking and practices into routine decision-making processes as they are periodically reviewed and updated.
Over time, EPA will need to develop approaches to decide when and how to incorporate sustainability considerations into agency decisions and actions, particularly those significant enough to be moved through the Sustainability Assessment and Management approach (Level 2); staff training on this approach will be needed. The scale and depth of the analysis and other aspects of the process, including stakeholder involvement, will need to be commensurate with the decision type and potential sustainability impact. The committee realizes that it will take some time to effect this change in culture and process.
Periodic Evaluation and Public Reporting
The collective actions of an EPA program and the agency as a whole (and its partners in communities and other agencies) will have an impact on the sustainability indicators (linked to breakthrough objectives and goals) of the agency as well as on many other indicators. The metrics for these indicators should be evaluated annually, checking for progress over time and informing needs for change within the agency in terms of organization, focus, and resource allocation.
For purposes of this report, the committee will refer to “metrics” as the measured values used to assess specific indicators of progress (see Box 3-3 and additional discussion of indicators and metrics in Chapter 4). Indicators, in general, are measures of impact that can be aggregated to track overall progress. EPA would benefit from an effort to develop metrics (measurement systems) for those indicators that could serve as a “dashboard of progress” for the agency and its administration. The selection of a slate of metrics is a challenging endeavor, requiring appropriate resources. It is necessary to directly link selected metrics to EPA’s vision as well as to the long-term goals and objectives of the agency. Once objectives and indicators are identified and metrics specified, they can become part of the long-term commitments of the agency to be reported annually in public reports and administrator summaries of accomplishments.
Goal—what is specifically sought to be achieved. The goal is determined through the use of measured indicators.
Example: Reducing mercury emissions from electric utility steam generating units.
Indicator—“A summary measure that provides information on the state of, or change in, a system” (OECD 2011b), that is, what is being measured.
Example: Mass of mercury emitted per heat energy input, for example, pounds per gigawatt hours.
Metric—“Defines the unit of measurement or how the indicator is being measured” (OECD 2011a).
Example: Using the first definition, an example metric would be [grams Hg (of mercury)/Kwh (of energy input)]. The description below illustrates the metric in the latter sense—specifying exactly how one arrives at the measure—so that any two individuals in different institutions would come up with the same number.
Example: A mercury continuous-emissions monitoring system is used to measure molecules of the element Hg (mercury) in the stack gas as they pass through a sorbent trap. This measure is reduced to an hourly mass emissions rate. Then the indicator is calculated from a formula that uses the Hg hourly concentration, the flow rate of the stack gas, the electrical load, the diluent gas concentration, and moisture data. This indicator is then compared with a reference value to determine whether the unit is in compliance (EPA 2010)
A set of indicators and associated metrics (associated with goals and objectives) and indicators associated with international reporting protocols could be published periodically by EPA to inform its employees and the public about progress toward national objectives and goals. Over time, this reporting will become a key part of a new culture at EPA that is linked to delivering measureable progress toward sustainability. Goals, objectives, and indicators and associated metrics would benefit from being periodically reviewed for relevance to improving sustainability and for EPA’s ability to have an impact on them positively through their actions.
Federal agencies are required under the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) to prepare strategic plans, annual performance plans, and annual performance reports (31 U.S.C. § 1115). Agencies must clearly identify high-priority performance goals in their strategic plans, annual performance plans, and annual reports and are expected to internally review performance related to their goals. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) directs senior agency leaders to hold “goal-focused, data-driven reviews at least once every quarter to review progress on
agency priorities and to assure that follow-up steps are taken to increase the likelihood of achieving better outcomes, higher productivity, and priority goals” (OMB 2010). Meeting GPRA requirements and developing sustainability indicators and associated metrics could be coupled, for example, under EPA’s 5 year Strategic Plan (EPA 2010).
3.1. Key Finding: Organizations that most effectively integrate sustainability into their work and culture are those that base their programs on clear principles, vision, strategic goals, and implementation processes (p.45-47).
3.1. Key Recommendation: EPA should adopt or adapt the comprehensive Sustainability Framework proposed in Figure 3-1. The proposed Sustainability Framework requires a comprehensive approach including specific processes for incorporating sustainability into decisions and actions. As part of the framework, EPA should incorporate upfront, consideration of sustainability options and analyses that cover the three sustainability pillars, as well as trade-off consideration into its decision making. This framework was developed with the intent that EPA could apply it to any decision to which a need arose.
3.2. Key Finding: Organizational incorporation of sustainability requires clear, broadly shared goals, and the development and operational measurement of generally accepted indicators and associated metrics of goal achievement (p.47).
3.2. Key Recommendation: For programs, EPA should set several strategic 3-5 year breakthrough objectives related to its sustainability implementation and its performance indicators and associated metrics. These goals would be designed to improve performance throughout the agency by extending beyond its current capabilities and experiences and requiring new strategies and approaches to ensure their attainment. EPA should begin periodic public sustainability reporting to transparently review its progress versus goals.
3.3. Key Finding: For successful implementation of sustainable-development principles in organizations and their work, the “Three Pillars” paradigm has a proven track record of effectiveness in the United States and globally. Practically all of EPA’s activities under its environmental statutes are intended to protect human health and well-being. However, the pillar for “environment” may not convey the inclusion of human health and well-being under that heading. The committee proposes that EPA consider defining the social pillar
as the “social pillar (including human health)” to clarify the important place of public health in the Sustainability Framework (p.40).
3.3. Key Recommendation: The committee recommends expressly including the term “health” in the social pillar to help ensure that EPA regulatory and scientific staff primarily concerned with human-health issues recognize their existing role in sustainability and recommends that EPA pay particular attention to explaining the role of human health in the social pillar, thereby ensuring that staff and stakeholders involved in the area of human health recognize that their activities are an integral part of EPA’s sustainability work. Further, expressly including health in the social pillar will more clearly communicate outside of EPA the agency’s role in that pillar of sustainability.
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