The first formal definition of “sustainability” was given by the 1987 Brundtland Report or, properly, the Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development. “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
However, it is impossible to determine or even guess how future generations will meet their needs, because recent history has shown human ingenuity – our ability tomanipulate new technologies – has created abundance by an order of magnitude nearly every decade. Rather than scarcity being our future, an embarrassment of riches should be a more likely scenario.
Governments must perform reviews of the following environmental policies and in some cases undertake a rootand-branch reform of these policies. For the past 20 years, many scholars and writers, recognizing the imbalance, have argued for a society-wide revisioning of environmental regulation. However, despite pleas for incentive-based policies, cost-based analysis, reliance on demonstrated real-world problems rather than hypothetical or modelled problems, environment ministries and conservation bureaucracies have remained sclerotic, confiscatory and obstructive of economic activity.
While many solutions to environmental overregulation have been proposed over the last 30 years, few have been taken seriously enough to prosecute in any meaningful way. This paper looks at the following necessary reforms:
- Reform of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) and the Endangered Species Act.
- Halting of private and public land sequestration and sterilization and a return to the highest and best use of public land.
- Reversion to a property rights/private ownership land management system. Legal penalties placed on plaintiffs who sue rural producers and prevent the development of natural resources or rural businesses, when they lose.
- Introduction of new methods of governance at the local level to deal with environmental issues and to support local residents as equal in law to senior government actors. Federal and provincial regulations must be consistent with local customs, economies and traditions. Entire regions should not be drawn down based on the current thinking in a resource-use bureaucracy.
- A rethinking of the current planning ethic and a move to a more organic and open form of planning, following human movement rather than prescribing what can and cannot be done before it is even contemplated.
- Halting rural population decline caused by overregulation, by means of a root-and-branch reform of land-use regulation across all involved ministries.