The Search for Sustainability
by Pamela Peeters

What are the most dominant characteristics of the world’s pattern of doing business? I believe it is the continuous exploitation of natural and human resources without considering the long-term effects on the whole Earth community. It’s all about making the best impression and closing the deal as quickly as possible with only one shot at it. This behavior encourages short-term investments and does not contain a long-term vision. What is lacking is an understanding and commitment to sustainable development. This concept is crucial when it comes to making choices that have implications for the future generations to come. Environmental education is one of the most important assets we have today to contribute to the creation of a more conscious and just global society.

Newly Defined Citizenship
The citizens of the 21st century are nurturing the creation of a new international ethic called “sustainability,” and established principles are being redefined. The integration of environmental and social concerns within economic society deflates the masculine image that many nations carry, and different definitions of citizenship and leadership are emerging. A softening of the global patriarchal society becomes a reality and size becomes less relevant. The voices that will be heard in the future are those of countries, companies, and people that show social integrity, environmental respect, and preservation of these principles in their words and in their deeds. Our priority should be the development of a true understanding of planet Earth’s mechanisms for long-term sustainability and actions that seek to achieve a balanced integration of economic, environmental, and social needs. The nations that achieve this balance will have comparative advantages over other countries and people.

Greening of the World
Philanthropy has never been the driving force for a greening of world trade. The rise in financial, economic, and health-related expenses linked to maintaining current production systems are such that they change the design of many production patterns and production modes. With the current state of technological development and a growing concern for an economic recession, the evolution towards a “greener” and more sustainable world trade is said to be a choice between doing business as usual for short-term economic gains or taking a more balanced approach, which includes protection of the environment. The prevailing division is maintaining uncertainty as to how to direct the global economies towards economical practices that are healthy for the economy, the environment, and the society as a whole. It is there that the importance of communication becomes clear and that distribution of objective messages will be needed to bridge information gaps.

Redesign of Information
The freedom to address quality issues and to question business practices has increased thanks to the worldwide implementation of the Internet, where more and better information is being shared on a global level and in a timely manner. New trends in communication will further continue to impact societal behavior. Sustainable marketing and information campaigns are more and more often containing messages with an intrinsic value. Besides the commercial tone there is room for education, and intelligent entertainment is not far away. Environmental education has a very bright future with many challenges since its audience is better informed and requests increasing levels of quality. The design of a clear map that shapes our lives towards a more sustainable world is an essential tool and the educators of today have an important role to play in guiding our citizens towards the achievement of a more sustainable tomorrow.

© Pamela Peeters 2003

Pamela Peeters is a former laureate of the Belgian Prize of the Minister of Foreign Trade, an environmental economist, and international ECO-Consultant. Peeters blends economic and ecological know-how with new media applications. She has been an attached reserve economist to the Belgian Senate and is administrator for clubs that unite people with an interest in environment, sustainable development, and international trade. She has created a Unit for Environmental Education at Columbia University and develops educational multimedia projects to promote public initiatives such as the Sustainable Development policy. She has been made honorary member of BPW International (Business and Professional Women) and has been classified by the Belgian Press as “Famous Flemish” in 2002.

Pamela Peeters is the author of several international publications relating to sustainable development and the role of technology and education in our society. Her upcoming book, “New Citizenship,” covers more than eight years of research in the field of sustainable development and reveals the viewpoints of a scientist-business woman.

Peeters is also the producer and host to the interactive television show entitled “Our-Planet,” a show that focuses on the evolving economical, environmental and social identity of the 21st century. The bi-monthly television show “Our-Planet” can be seen on Time Warner Cable (Channel 67) and RCN (Channel 110) on the first and the third Mondays of the month at 9.30 pm. For people deprived of Manhattan cable access there is a web-site “” a series of workshops and a DVD.

Peeters can be contacted at


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