The Air & Waste Management Associations (A&WMA) 93rd Annual Meeting and Exhibition in Salt Lake City, Utah, opened with an address about this year''s conference theme: sustainable development.
Maurice Strong, under-secretary general and senior advisor to the secretary general of the United Nations officially opened the event by detailing the numerous environmental problems and challenges facing the world today.
Despite the problems, Strong reminded attendees that it is not too late to take action.
"We are the principal architects of our own future," said Strong.
As such, some of his key points included:
- The need for the global development of a business case for sustainable development;
- The need to improve our understanding of the global nature of this goal;
- Improvements needed in technology and management practices;
- Our obligation to assist developing countries in their efforts to industrialize, so that they do not make the same mistakes we have;
- The need to continue our environmental education initiatives toward children; and
- An acknowledgment that "environmental doomsday" is possible, as well as the recognition that a "golden age" is also within our reach.
Currently, Strong said, "we''re failing in our efforts toward achieving a sustainable planet."
He attributed this failure to a general lack of motivation. In reaction to this, Strong made a call for the development of an official charter to outline certain moral and ethical principles, which he feels are necessary for bringing about positive changes.
This charter, he said, would be designed not as "sacred" text, but rather as an inspirational document outlining a global plan for cooperation in making the Earth sustainable.
"The future," he remarked in his closing statements, "is in your hands."
The A&WMA is the world''s leading nonprofit organization for environmental professionals with 12,000 members representing 65 countries.
by Virginia Sutcliffe