Sustainable development is no new issue. The idea that the “ecological footprint” of present generations affects the wellbeing of those yetto-be-born has been well understood for centuries. Yet, for most of the 20th century, in many societies the issue of sustainability was neglected, as industrialization and economic growth took precedence over the preservation of the environment and the need to ensure a fair standard of living to people across the world.
Over the past 25 years, the principle whereby the needs of present generations ought to be fulfilled without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own has become a central tenet of political discourse, if not actual policy-making. Economic development and the preservation of the environment are no longer seen as necessarily being at odds with each other. Indeed, sustainable development recognises that there can be no improvement in standards of living, no eradication of poverty, without wise use of scarce natural resources that minimizes the impact of our actions on the wellbeing of our children and grandchildren.
Sustainable development is about recognising that all our actions have long-term, wide-ranging consequences — and acting responsibly on that basis. Sustainability is premised on being informed about the likely impact of past, present and future actions; about the global implications of the daily decisions of every single citizen, consumer, policy maker and company.
Through providing informed, contextualised and integrated reporting on economic, environmental and social issues, IPS considers its journalism to make a vital direct contribution to achieving sustainability.
IPS has established itself as a leading provider of news about sustainability, and as a global and regional communication platform for environment and development issues. At the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, IPS published its first ever TerraViva conference newspaper. Shortly thereafter, with support of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), IPS launched a specialised information service on environment and development in Latin America, called Tierramérica. Since 2000, the weekly print edition of Tierramérica has been published in newspapers and magazines in Belize, Brazil, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico, United States, Uruguay, and Venezuela. In 2008 Tierramérica won the Zayed Prize in the category of Environmental Action Leading to Positive Change in Society.
In 2003, IPS became a founding member of the Alliance of Communicators for Sustainable Development (COM+), a multi-stakeholder alliance that includes the World Bank, IUCN, BBC World Service Trust and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.