In 1983 the United Nations convened to the World Commission on Environment and Development, also known as the Brundtland Commission, in response to environmental problems that were negatively impacting economic and social development. This resulted in the most widely quoted definition of sustainability and sustainable development to date: “sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
More recently, the United Nations Environment Programme defined green jobs as “work in agricultural, manufacturing, research and development (R&D), administrative, and service activities that contribute(s) substantially to preserving or restoring environmental quality. Specifically, but not exclusively, this includes jobs that help to protect ecosystems and biodiversity; reduce energy, materials, and water consumption through high efficiency strategies; de-carbonize the economy; and minimize or altogether avoid generation of all forms of waste and pollution.”
The U.N.’s more broad definition from 25 years ago seems to present a guiding framework for sustainability that emphasizes our impact on the future, while the more recent definition of green jobs looks more specifically at the current industries and issues that affect sustainability today. It is easy to see where CTE fits into the Environment Programme’s definition — agriculture, manufacturing, protecting ecosystems and biodiversity, and energy efficiency. These are all areas where CTE training and industry have evolved to incorporate sustainability principles or to create new jobs.