Baltimoreâ€™s Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake on April 16, 2011, stood up at the cityâ€™s Druid Hill Park Conservatory to announce the release of the 2010 Annual Sustainability Report.Â This â€œyearly accountability tool to track Baltimoreâ€™s towards improving the economic, social, and environmental sustainabilityâ€ was the cityâ€™s second such report, a product of the Baltimore Office of Sustainability.
Baltimore defines sustainability as â€œmeeting the current environmental, social, and economic needs of our community without compromising the ability of future generations to meet these needs.â€ Â This is deceptively similar to the often quoted formulation of the United Nationsâ€™ Brundtland Commission.Â Our Common Future, the Commissionâ€™s 1987 report, asserted that â€œSustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.â€Â The concept of needs was explained with particular priority of concern for the worldâ€™s poor.Â Our ability to meet needs was represented as limited by our social organization and technology as well as environmental constraints.
Read literally, Baltimoreâ€™s idea of sustainability differs in two possibly controversial ways from conventional usage. First, developmentâ€”meaning steady increase of living standards and economic activityâ€”is not mentioned.Â Second, the needs that future generations will want to meet seemingly are presumed not to differ from ours today. Â But perhaps, for Baltimoreâ€™s sustainability assessors, development is a fundamental need.
In any case, the report is structured around 29 specific goals in seven clusters aimed at enhancing the cityâ€™s sustainability. Some of the goals are quite specific (for example, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 15% by 2015), but most are open ended.Â And with the possible exception of supporting local business, every goal is crucially linked to the regionâ€™s public works infrastructure, although infrastructure is cited explicitly as a contributing resource for only about one-third.