The principles of sustainable development: a guide for action
The Sustainable Development Act defines 16 principles that must be incorporated into the interventions of all departments and agencies. In a sense, these principles are a guide for action within a perspective of sustainable development. They are an original reflection of the principles of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, a fundamental text that affirms international commitment to sustainable development.
The principles of Québec’s Sustainable Development Act:
These principles and other comparable ones are integrated into the practices of a growing number of government agencies, non-profit or private organizations and those working in fields such as education (1), business (2), architecture and construction, research and development, management, etc. They draw inspiration from these principles to improve their methods with regard to access to knowledge, production and consumption, citizen participation and involvement, ecological responsibility, and the ideas to develop new areas of intervention.
Here are some examples.
“An establishment is “green” because it undertakes reduction, reuse, recovery and recycling projects—resource conservation projects in other words. An establishment is “Brundtland” because it also implements actions centred around the themes of democracy, sharing, cooperation, equity, solidarity, respect, peace and human rights, which are highlighted in the Brundtland Report.
Launched in 1992 by the Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ) in cooperation with partners like RECYC-QUÉBEC, the Brundtland Green Establishments Network now includes close to 1000 elementary and secondary schools and colleges in Québec (according to information provided by the CSQ on March 1, 2006). The BGE status is not exclusive to schools however.
Brundtland Green Establishments are institutions that have taken on the mission to “… promote the development of critical and responsible citizens able to take action to make the world worthy of their aspirations.” The approach of a BGE is to think, teach, educate and act to create a society that embraces the values of ecology, pacifism, solidarity and democracy.
Establishments with BGE status are recognized for their daily initiatives promoting sustainable development. Each year, they must renew their status as a green establishment, which is conditional upon specific guidelines.
Wishing to make Montréal the international capital of circus arts and showcase the spirit of creativity, talents and entrepreneurial drive of this sector, the Cirque du Soleil invested at the beginning of 2000 to create a centre for the creation and dissemination of circus arts in Montréal. Located at the heart of the Complexe environnemental de Saint-Michel (CESM) in the eastern part of the Villeray—Saint-Michel—Parc-Extension district, TOHU integrates the environmental, community and economic realities of this area. TOHU is located on a site that is nearly 200 hectares in size and which, between the 1970s to the end of the 1980s, was a garbage dump. Purchased by the City of Montréal in 1988, the site and adjacent land were environmentally rehabilitated so that they could be gradually transformed into an urban park.
TOHU designs and offers the hosting, entertainment and educational activities that take place at the CESM. TOHU’s installations were designed to reflect the enterprise’s environmental values: from construction to its use and eventual demolition, each stage of the building’s life has been mapped out according to ecological principles.
TOHU proposes free community activities and services to neighbourhood residents, such as exhibits and festive and educational gatherings. The building serves as a public place where the community can meet and exchange. Other than these services, the enterprise offers neighbourhood residents privileged access to employment. And last but not least, special attention is paid to the way in which the organization’s activities affect the local population.