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Sustainable Development at the Houston Seven Power Summit

John Kirton

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The 15th annual economic summit of the world's seven major industrial democracies and the European Community, held under United States auspices in Houston, Texas on July 9 - 11, 1990, represented a substantial, if uneven step forward in the process of securing international agreement and action on the principles and practices of sustainable development. The critical issue of the environment did receive somewhat less attention at the summit than it had at Paris the year before, and Houston's environmental achievements did fail to meet the expectations of either the nongovernmental environmental community or such activist governments as the Federal Republic of Germany. However, despite strong resistance from the host United States, the summit succeeded in setting international environmental priorities, making conceptual advances on the key issue of climate change, and taking action in several other important envirorunental areas. Moreover from a Canadian standpoint, Houston represented a significant and surprising success, as it affirmed Canada's generally mainstream position on major global environmental issues, accepted most Canadian initiatives on issues of particular national concern and allowed Prime Minister Mulroney to maintain his image of international leadership on the environment.

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