The goal of any society is to have adequate supply and access of resources, a healthy environment, and the general human wellbeing. All societies strive to achieve a healthy environment that sustains the daily needs of people. Research shows that human wellbeing is linked to the health of the environment. Indeed, around 25% of deaths across the world can be traced back to some environmental factors that are actually avoidable (WHO, 2016). A healthy society is the one that enjoys fresh and clean water, clean air, and living places that are devoid of hazards and toxic substances. Yet, humans need to utilize the available resources to improve the quality of their lives. Every society needs to improve its industries and production, technology, and the overall economic development. All these factors require certain processes that have an impact on water, air, land, forests, and other resources, which may in turn affect the quality of the environment (Leal Filho et al., 2019). At the same time, future generations will also need to live in a similar environment. Therefore, a perfect society is the one that would effectively utilize the available resources for economic and social development and at the same time sustain a quality, healthy environment while also safeguarding the resources for future generations.
Aims and Objectives
Unfortunately, the society is not perfect because human activities almost always result in the destruction of the environment, which affects land, water, and air and makes the environment not safe for humans, thus the resulting negative health outcomes. In addition, current human activities are not always sustainable and indeed compromise the availability of resources and health and wellbeing of the future generations (Leal Filho et al., 2019). Safeguarding the quality of the environment requires what is now known as sustainability in which people effectively use the available resources and at the same time conserves and protect them to support the health and wellbeing of future generations. But this is not achievable without a combination of efforts by individuals, communities, organizations, corporations, governments, and the international community. Each of these must play an important role to achieve such a situation. However, governments and the international community have a leading role in harnessing adequate efforts to achieve sustainable quality environment. Consequently, the aim of this paper is to determine and discuss the roles that politics should play in maintaining sustainable quality environment for future generations not only in the US but also worldwide.
What is Sustainable Quality Environment?
The concept of sustainability dates back to the 18th century Europe but has become popular in the last five decades. By definition, sustainability implies the ability to utilize the available resources efficiently to meet the current society’s needs while also conserving them for the future generations (Leal Filho et al., 2019). On its part, quality environment means an environment that effectively supports the health and wellbeing of the society through the availability of safe and clean water, air, land, and other natural resources. Consequently, sustainable quality environment is the one that combines the two concepts such that the current society enjoys safe environment and availability of resources but does not compromise the wellbeing and health of the future generations. Environmental sustainability means the responsibility tom conserve the available resources and protect global ecosystems in order to support human health and wellbeing, now and in the future. According to the U. S Environmental Protection Agency (2019), environmental sustainability involves meeting the current needs without compromising the future generations’ ability to meet their needs.
What is the Role of Politics in Achieving Sustainable Quality Environment for Future Generations?
Integrating policies require the relevant political bodies’ involvement and leading roles. According to Tomor et al. (2019), policy integration needs a common evaluative yardstick, a machinery of execution, and coalitions of supportive interest of both host government and non-government actors. It is the role of the government at all levels, including departments and local authorities, to play leading and administrative roles in achieving sustainable quality environment. Governments need to set and enforce standards for environmental sustainability based on the local social, economic, and environmental conditions.
In the US, regulations are often set at the national level. For instance, the U.S. EPA is mandated to regulate every aspect of the environment, including setting standards for water, soil, air, and wildlife habitats and carbon emissions (EPA, 2019). In addition, it is the role of the federal government through EPA to enforce these standards with such strictness as imposing monetary penalties and legal action on the defaulters and violators. State, provincial, and local political bodies such as administration have the responsibility to create stringent guidelines. For instance, in Paris and Madrid, the city authorities have been setting limits on the use of diesel vehicles and older and less fuel models for automobiles. It is the responsibility of such bodies to ensure that the environment is not only safe, but also sustainable by enacting and enforcing strict regulations and policies that apply to individuals, the community, and business organizations.
The politics of corporate responsibility and environmental awareness have dominated the debate of sustainable environment over the last few decades. Research indicates that in nations and regions where the politics on this debate are active, companies tend to have a high level of responsibility and awareness of their impact on the environment (Pinkse, 2019). Unrestricted consumption and utilization of resources drives corporations to exploit more resources as they seek to meet the needs of the society and make profits. Indeed, without restrictions, corporations would exploit resources at a high rate but leave significant footprint on the environment as they strive to make profits (Schaltegge et al., 2018). This would be the situation where there is no or little politics on environmental sustainability and quality. Such politics compel the corporations to achieve a high level of awareness of their environmental impacts (Pinkse, 2019). Politics also create awareness among individuals and communities and alert them on possible impacts on their environment by corporations operation in their areas.
Noteworthy, it does not mean that being sustainable in their production processes will reduce corporates’ productivity and ability to meet their corporate and financial goals. Rather, it implies that they must always be responsible of their activities and should avoid activities that compromise the quality of the environment now and the future (Pinkse, 2019). The role of politics in this case is to compel and monitor the corporates’ ability to conserve the environment, avoid environmental degradation and resource exploitation, and comply with the available rules and regulations.
Legislative surveillance is another important concept that appears in the literature on the role of politics in the upkeep of sustainable quality environment. Although in many jurisdictions legislative surveillance is the least active political intervention on the quest for sustainable quality environment, it is deemed effective by scholars. Indeed, it requires legislative bodies at the regional, national, and local levels to organize and undertake audit function of the national or departmental responses to environmental laws and regulations (Pinkse, 2019). Legislative surveillance is a matter of the bodies and their committees to strictly audit the actions and responsibilities of the government bodies in enacting and enforcing environmental rules and regulations. In addition, legislative surveillance is a matter of the legislative bodies to monitor and compel corporations to comply with the policies and also ensure that they take responsibility of their actions.
Political approach to environmental sustainability does not only apply to governments and corporates. Instead, it also applies to the community and the society in general. In this case, people at the local levels must be aware of their responsibilities and rights regarding sustainable quality environment. Nevertheless, this kind of awareness would almost be inexistence without the politics of sustainability. Research reveals that in societies where the politics of sustainable quality environment are active, people tend to understand their responsibilities, roles, and rights regarding this issue (Leal Filho et al., 2019). Politics play an important role in educating people about the concept of conservation of the environment and the need to take part in achieving these goals. Communities have the responsibility to utilize resources effectively to meet their needs while also conserving them for the future generations (Pinkse, 2019). For instance, communities can utilize forests and wildlife, water, and soil to meet their needs.
But they should also take such actions as planting and caring for trees to ensure that there is sustainability and availability of the same resources for their children in the future. In addition, the community should have the ability to determine the impacts of the actions of the government and corporates in relation to environmental sustainability (Leal Filho et al., 2019). For example, the community should have the ability to determine if corporations are exploiting resources and degrading the environment and take action. Noteworthy, all these achievements are only possible in the presence of active political roles that empower and educate the community.
This discussion demonstrates the importance of politics and political involvement in achieving sustainable quality environment for the future generations in the US and around the world. Evidently, it is not only the role of government bodies and legislative arms to play in achieving these objectives. Rather, politics should play important roles in ensuring corporations, business organizations, and the community is aware of the importance of sustainability.
EPA. (2019). Sustainability. Web.
Leal Filho, W., Tripathi, S. K., Andrade Guerra, J. B. S. O. D., Giné-Garriga, R., Orlovic Lovren, V., & Willats, J. (2019). Using the sustainable development goals towards a better understanding of sustainability challenges. International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology, 26(2), 179-190. Web.
Pinkse, J. (2019). Firms, institutions and politics: The role of corporate political activity in sustainable innovation. In Handbook of Sustainable Innovation. Edward Elgar Publishing.
Schaltegger, S., Beckmann, M., & Hockerts, K. (2018). Collaborative entrepreneurship for sustainability. Creating solutions in light of the UN sustainable development goals. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Venturing, 10(2), 131-152. Web.
Tomor, Z., Meijer, A., Michels, A., & Geertman, S. (2019). Smart governance for sustainable cities: Findings from a systematic literature review. Journal of Urban Technology, 26(4), 3-27.
WHO. (2016). An estimated 12.6 million deaths each year are attributable to unhealthy environments. Web.