Environmental Health Action Guide - compiled and maintained by the Sustainable Cleveland Partnership and NeighborhoodLink




Sixty year old Ray Charles is concerned about the growing number of garbage dumps, emissions from aluminum and steel factories, thickening traffic congestion, and a near absence of open green spaces or parks in his Freeville neighborhood. As he takes his evening walk down Green Street, he notes that there have been no improvements in the old dilapidated apartment buildings where many of his neighbors have resided for years. He recalls how some of the children who have grown up on Green Street, including his own children and grandchildren, suffer from such preventable health problems as recurring coughs, asthma, and pediatric lead poisoning.

Mr. Charles and his friends Henry Russell, Scott Wright, John Smith, and Tim Barnes now better understand the cause and effect relationships between jobs, health, and housing issues in Freeville and the significance of sustainable development in ensuring a safe, healthy, and productive future for their children and grandchildren. They also appreciate the need to understand how economic development impacts community environment and health, as well as social equity.

Learn more about Sustainable Development at the local, national, and international levels. Find out how you can begin to work for the long-term sustainability of your community.



The United Nations defines development as sustainable when it "Ömeets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."


Basic Principles of Sustainable Development:

  1. Social, economic, and environmental development are interrelated and must be addressed at the same time; 
  1. All government efforts should try to reduce poverty so that resources are distributed equally among all communities and pollution burdens are shared equally; 
  1. Earthís natural resources are limited and should therefore be conserved and used efficiently; 
  1. All communities must consume resources in a sustainable way so that quality of life of future generations is not compromised. 


Environmental justice in low income, minority communities is a critical component of sustainable development.


Sustainable Development - The International Picture:

The phrase sustainable development was coined at the United Nationsí Conference on the Human Environment in Sweden in 1972 and was discussed widely at the UN Conference on Environment and Development (the Earth Summit) in Rio in 1992. Agenda 21 came out of the Rio Summit and it is a global plan for achieving sustainable development.


Sustainable Development - The National Picture:

President Clinton signed Executive Order 12852 in June 1993 establishing the Presidentís Council on Sustainable Development. Members of this council are an eclectic mix of leaders from government, industry, civil rights groups, labor, and the environmental community, all working towards environmentally sustainable economic development in the U.S.


Sustainable Development - Sustainable Communities:

Sustainable development is an important concept for local communities, neighborhoods, towns, cities, and regions. Communities must define for themselves the basis for sustainable development at the local level. Local participation in the social, economic, and environmental decision making process is necessary for communities to address issues of sustainable development at home. This is important if concerns, priorities, and needs of all individuals are to be met in the short, medium, and long-term.


Having access to information is important if communities are to become involved in the local decision making process. The Sustainable Cleveland Environmental Health Action Guide will help communities access that information and work toward achieving sustainable development in their communities.





Contact the Earth Day Coalition at 216/281-6468 for information on local environmental and health programs in Cleveland and their implications for sustainability.

Contact EcoCity Cleveland at 216/932-3007 for information on local sustainability issues and data on local environmental problems.



Contact the Presidentís Council on Sustainable Development at 202/408-5296 for information on sustainable development efforts in the U.S.

Access the Environmental Defense Fundís Homepage for information on its national environmental and health programs and their implications for sustainable development.



Read Agenda 21.

Access the United Nations Development Program Homepage, UNís economic development program, for information on international sustainable development efforts.

Access the United Nations Sustainable Development Homepage for information on UNís sustainable development policies.

Full mailing addresses and phone numbers of organizations listed on this factsheet are available in this Guide's Directory of Organizations.



Read about Sustainability:

Davis, Bill, Palaniappan, Meena, and Lois Epstein. The Environmental Sustainability Kit. Environmental Defense Fundís Pollution Prevention Alliance, 1996.

The Environmental Sustainability Kit is a set of tools-ideas, procedures, and resources to help local leaders, residents, and businesses work toward making their own communities more sustainable. Click here to download copies of the Kit or order by calling EDF at 800/684-3322.


Beach, David; The Greater Cleveland Environment Book; Cleveland: EcoCity Cleveland, 1998.

This reference book serves as an extensive overview of environmental issues important to Cleveland and Northeast Ohio. It provides data and statistics on environmental problems and is useful for the environmental novice or experienced activist.




Use the Sustainable Cleveland Environmental Health Action Guide: Get information on important environment and health problems in Cleveland and take action.


Contact Local Elected Officials: Write to or call them asking them to support policies that strongly protect the environment and support sustainable communities.


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