New Book Offers Expert Recommendations for a Sustainable United States

May 2023

(Washington, DC)— As the global movement for social and environmental justice gains momentum, we are in need of grounded and implementable solutions. The latest book from ELI Press–Governing for Sustainability–provides just that. The book recommends steps to advance each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), global goals unanimously approved by United Nations Member States in 2015.

Sustainable development may be one of the most important and potentially transformational ideas to come out of the last century. The ultimate objectives of sustainable development are freedom, opportunity, justice, and quality of life for everyone in this and future generations. While the United States has a substantial body of environmental and social protection laws, we are far from being a sustainable society. In Governing for Sustainability, 22 experts recommend steps the United States should take now and achieve by 2030 to advance each of these SDGs. Edited by legal sustainability experts John Dernbach and Scott Schang, the book provides nearly 500 recommendations for federal, state, tribal, territorial, and local governments, as well as the private sector and civil society. The various contributions that personal behavior can make toward both public and private governance are included as well.

These recommendations would help make America a better place for all—in environmental, social, economic, and national security terms. Every American has a role to play.

“Sustainable development can feel overwhelming in its enormity. John Dernbach and Scott Schang have brought together a remarkable coalition of authors in a volume that both embraces that enormity and makes it concrete,” explained ELI President Jordan Diamond. “From exploring the rationale behind the Sustainable Development Goals, to tracking progress to date, to clear recommendations for how to accelerate progress, the book shows how sustainable development can go—and must go—from a talking point to a reality.”

Governing for Sustainability offers an inspired, timely, and important roadmap for meeting the wide ranging political, economic, and social justice challenges our nation faces in achieving sustainability,” said Richard Lazarus, Howard J. and Katherine W. Aibel Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. “Each chapter, authored by one or more of the nation’s leading experts, is a treasure to be mined.”

Vickie Patton, General Counsel of Environmental Defense Fund, praised the book, stating “Governing for Sustainability is a clarion call to action together with a blueprint of solutions for the United States to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. . . . It is important and compelling reading for policymakers, business leaders, engaged members of the public, and all who seek to contribute, now, to a more sustainable society for all people.”

And Roger Martella, Chief Sustainability Officer for General Electric, said the book “serves a critical function by bringing together the top thought leaders in providing the turn-by-turn directions on how to successfully navigate each SDG at a time when the urgency has never been greater.”

For more information, including the table of contents, visit

About the Editors

John C. Dernbach is Commonwealth Professor of Environmental Law and Sustainability at Widener University Commonwealth Law School and Director of the Environmental Law and Sustainability Center. He is a nationally and internationally recognized authority on sustainable development, climate change, and environmental law.

Scott E. Schang is the founding Director of the Environmental Law and Policy Clinic at Wake Forest School of Law where he is also a Professor of Practice. He also serves as Senior Advisor, Corporate Engagement, for the international land rights organization Landesa. He is an experienced sustainable development professional devoted to achieving sustainability through non-partisan, evidence-based policy research and advocacy.

John Dernbach and Scott Schang are available for interviews upon request.