Dean Gus Speth on Presidential Picks & Developing Countries
James Gustave "Gus" Speth, is the Carl W. Knobloch, Jr. Dean of the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, and Sara Shallenberger Brown Professor in the Practice of Environmental Policy
From 1993 to 1999, Dean Speth served as administrator of the United Nations Development Programme and chair of the UN Development Group. Prior to his service at the UN, he was founder and president of the World Resources Insti-tute; professor of law at Georgetown University; chairman of the U.S. Council on Environmental Quality; and senior attorney and cofounder, Natural Resources Defense Council.
Throughout his career, Dean Speth has provided leadership and entrepreneurial initiatives to many task forces and committees whose roles have been to combat environmental degradation, including the President’s Task Force on Global Resources and Environment; the Western Hemisphere Dialogue on Environment and Development; and the National Commission on the Environment. Among his awards are the National Wildlife Federation’s Resources Defense Award, the Natural Resources Council of America’s Barbara Swain Award of Honor, a 1997 Special Recognition Award from the Society for International Development, the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Environmental Law Institute, and the Blue Planet Prize. Publications include The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability, Red Sky at Morning: America and the Crisis of the Global Environment; Worlds Apart: Globalization and the Environment; and articles in Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, Environmental Science and Technology, the Columbia Journal World of Business, and other journals and books.
Question: Who do you endorse for President?
Gus Speth: I'm supporting Senator Obama, I think, but in part for the very reasons that people have gravitated to him. So many people have, which is-- I think he has the capacity to reach people and to communicate a new vision for our country. And internationally, I think he-- we really need to overcome this deficit in our international standing that we've built up so terribly over the, you know, past decade.
Question: Is it fair to ask developing countries to develop sustainably?
Gus Speth: Well, my book talks about the affluent countries and particularly about the U.S. because I think it's very important that we do the right thing, that we set the right example. And I doubt if, until we do, that things will really change much anywhere else in the world. That said, we do need to assist, promote and otherwise, you know, work to ensure that growth patterns in the rapidly industrializing countries of China and India and elsewhere, Brazil, that these growth patterns are sustainable. Because China is already a larger greenhouse gas emitter than the United States. And we won't make it internationally without their change as well as our change. But really, it's, you know, we've enjoyed living so high on the hog for so long that the first and the biggest steps should come from us.
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