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In 2000, NJDEP signed an international declaration committing the agency to join with other states and nations to seek reductions in emissions to increase environmental and economic sustainability worldwide. The International Declaration on Cleaner Production, sponsored by the United Nations' Environment Program (UNEP), was signed as part of the state's observance of National Pollution Prevention Week. Officials from approximately 40 foreign governments have also signed the document, as well as more than 1,000 business entities.
New Jersey's environmental leadership was recognized by President George W. Bush when he selected former Governor Whitman as his Energy Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator. New Jersey has led the country by entering into one of the first National Environmental Performance Partnership System agreements with USEPA in 1997, to develop results-oriented goals in a holistic manner. NJDEP has developed a comprehensive set of environmental indicators to measure the state's progress toward specific objectives. For example, do we have enough open space permanently preserved to provide habitats for wildlife? The agreement embodies a new approach to relations between federal and state governments and the public, with a more flexible and collaborative process that focuses on compliance assistance, consensus building, energy efficiency and pollution prevention, since it is more efficient to prevent pollution from occurring than to try and control or manage it afterward.
This agreement is a significant move forward in environmental management and provides a solid framework for building sustainability for the next generation. Over the past two years, more and more sustainability concepts have been integrated into this framework. NJDEP is looking at incorporating additional sustainability indicators, including reviewing work done in this area by the United Nations. These sustainability indicators may help us to deepen our understanding of the relationship between the environment and the economy, which is crucial to pursuing sustainability.
For businesses that are capable of going beyond compliance minimums to achieve higher environmental standards, which will be essential for sustainability, NJDEP created the Silver and Gold Track Program for Environmental Performance. A company's compliance and enforcement track record and commitments to improved environmental performance determines acceptance into the program. NJDEP's experience has shown that the vast majority of companies want to be good corporate citizens and comply with environmental regulations-it is easier in the long run and more cost effective. Corporate executives and their families want clean air and water, and a healthy ecosystem. The state recognizes corporate environmental excellence by entering a covenant with participants to go "beyond-compliance," and recognizing their accomplishments.
NJDEP also has encouraged companies to reduce or eliminate their use of hazardous substances, such as mercury, through recycling programs and promotion of alternative technologies to replace mercury with other, safer materials in switches, auto parts, and lighting. In January, following the completion of a multi-sector, NJDEP-led Mercury Task Force report, NJDEP initiated a mercury recycling partnership program with auto recyclers, scrap metal recyclers and auto shredder facilities to remove electrical switches and other parts containing mercury from the iron and steel recycling stream. This will result in reducing air emissions from iron and steel smelters and the deposition of these airborne pollutants into waterways. The United Nation's new workgroup on mercury may benefit from this new mercury report. 5
Seton Hall Journal of Diplomacy and International Relation