The Environment Foundation

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Values and Sustainability Programme:

The Foundation believes that turning sustainability into a practical programme of action means more than changing technologies and legislation. It is also about changing values and long-term attitudes. The Foundationís Values and Sustainability programme from explored how values can act as drivers for change and as the basis for conversations and negotiations between different communities, cultures and generations. The need for a language that is understood by all (the most common theme running through the first 10 Consultations) and the role of the media will be key focal points.

Looking back over the Foundation’s activities, the pace at which the agenda has evolved has been amazing. But it is now clear that the linking theme throughout has been that of changing values. This is largely because the Foundation has itself been part of the evolving international environmental movement which, again in retrospect, can be seen as probably the most effective values-based movement of the second half of the 20th century. In planning for the period 2001-2005, the Foundation is taking this theme forward, by developing its Values Platform for Sustainability.

Values seem to change with every succeeding generation – and it is increasingly clear that a worldwide shift in both individual and societal values is under way. While this has huge implications for governments, the most dramatic effects have been seen in the business world, where companies suddenly find the world they knew being turned upside down and inside out.

No one seriously imagines that we will ever reach the point where everyone shares a common set of values, but there is very likely to be convergence around at least a minimum set. Universal values have already been defined, as in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Rio Declaration of 1992, crossing countries and cultures – and providing useful points of reference. Increasingly, this will be the context within which sustainable development must be put into practice.

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