1991 – The United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development

Economic development and sustained growth in the world’s standard of living cannot occur without a strong, global effort to protect the environment.

That belief is the basis for Our Common Future, a seminal 1987 report by the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development, which has earned the 1991 award.

Chaired by former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, the 21-member committee developed a document that, according to Time magazine, is “so blunt and sobering that it forced the issue of global responsibility onto the international agenda.”

This United Nations report calls for “sustainable development” — a practice of ensuring that meeting today’s material needs will not compromise the same ability of future generations to meet their needs. Growth that degrades the environment is not progress, but destruction, it says.

Besides its call for environmental concern, the report stresses that the world must rise to challenges such as overpopulation, lack of adequate food security and wasteful use of energy. It also states that goals such as peace, national security, economic development and a preserved environment are intertwined and can be properly addressed only through multinational efforts.