SOFT&GREEN Insights

Sustainability: knowing the past to imagine the future



Sustainability has become a major focus of the world's media. Through the contribution provided by the determination and grit of young Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, public opinion in many countries has turned its attention to this topic. Introduced ‘officially’ for the first time at the 1972 UN conference on the environment, its objective was only clearly defined years later in the so-called "Brundtland Report" of 1987, meaning that the subject already has significant history behind it.






In this issue, Soft&Green attempts to retrace this past by recalling some of the individuals, organisations and events that preceded, and in some way contributed to shaping, the very concept of sustainability. A sort of gallery of pioneers or a family tree of visionaries.






A way to honour those who conceived the idea of sustainability before sustainability existed, and also to help us understand that the idea behind all this comes from far away and... intends to go further still: towards the future. A better future for all.









ARTICLES

Sustainability: some important milestones
Many milestones have marked the path towards sustainability. Rather than offering an in-depth account, to help readers navigate their way through such a complex history, Soft&Green has chosen a few dates in each decade, from the 1960s to the 1990s, to highlight some significant moments.1962: the year American b...

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Women at the forefront of sustainability
How many people know that Gro Harlem Brundtland, from whom the report "Our Common Future" took its name, is a woman? She graduated in medicine from the University of Oslo and was the first female Prime Minister of Norway. Brundtland combined her commitment to defending women's rights with her commitment to the environm...

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The entrepreneur: Adriano Olivetti and his humanistic approach to responsible business
1950s, Northern Italy, Canavese region. Extraordinary things happened here thanks to an equally extraordinary person: Adriano Olivetti (1901 – 1960). Entrepreneur, man of culture, politician, intellectual, publisher and urban planner. The company that bears his name was for many years one of the world's leading indus...

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The politician: Bob Kennedy, GDP is not enough to measure quality of life
It was 1968 and the speech given by Bob Kennedy (1925 – 1968) is probably one of the most frequently referenced political addresses of all time. When we talk about the forerunners and trying to identify some of the passages through which the proto-concept of sustainability has expanded from the scientific field (in p...

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The scientist: Barry Commoner, combining ecologism with the social and policy dimensions
In his book, "The Closing Circle" (1971), he was perhaps the first to imagine a model of a circular economy and was certainly among the first to combine science and political activism, linking the issues of ecology to those of public participation and social justice: environmental crisis and political decision-making. ...

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Sustainable development: 3 questions for Enrico Giovannini
October 2019 – Soft&Green asked Enrico Giovannini, spokesman for the Italian Alliance for Sustainable Development, ASviS, to answer three questions about the future of sustainability.How is Italy positioned in relation to other countries for the 2030 Agenda? Globally, despite the efforts made so far by many ...

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