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THE CHALLENGE OF SUSTAINABILITY

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Sustainability an ethical concept ... ensure sustainability and equity of resource use into distant future ... For social sustainability ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: THE CHALLENGE OF SUSTAINABILITY


1
THE CHALLENGE OFSUSTAINABILITY
  • Arthur Lyon Dahl Ph.D.
  • International Environment Forum (IEF)
  • http//www.bcca.org/ief
  • and
  • European Bahá'í Business Forum (EBBF)
  • http//www.ebbf.org
  • (Prepared for AIESEC conferences 2006)

2
PREVALENT PESSIMISMUNCERTAINTY ABOUT FUTURE
  • Globalization is stressing economic/social
    systems, cultures, institutions, value systems
  • Persistent poverty, inequality in the world
  • Inability to create adequate employment
  • Increasing insecurity, social breakdown
  • Environmental degradation, climate change
  • Growing risks to health, epidemics
  • Information revolution makes us more aware (and
    less tolerant) of these problems
  • Your prospects less good than your parents

3
Present unsustainability
  • Population will grow to 9 billion by 2050
  • 20 of population uses 80 of resources
  • Fossil fuels running out
  • Planetary resources degraded
  • Climate change - impacts poor most
  • Extremes of wealth and poverty widening

4
Ecological footprint
  • Surface needed to supply the needs and absorb the
    wastes of an individual, community, or country
  • Global average 2.3 ha/person
  • Italy 3.26 ha/person (lowest in western Europe)
  • France 5.74 ha/person, Switzerland 5.26 ha/p.
  • Resources available 1.9 ha/person
  • We overshot the earth's capacity in 1975
  • http//redefiningprogress.org/programs/sustainabil
    ityindicators/ef/
  • http//www.myfootprint.org
  • http//www.globalfootprint.org/

5
Scenarios
  • Business as usual
  • Fortress world
  • Transition to sustainability

6
Scenarios from World 3(Meadows et al. (1992)
Beyond the Limits)
  • Business as usual Transition 1995
    Transition 2015

7
Business as usualwill lead to(Aral Sea, from
UNEP, GEO 3)
  • Natural, economic, and social disasters
  • Threats to Western material civilization
  • Rolling up of old world order

8
Certainties
  • We are in the middle of a major transformation in
    society
  • The past is not a good predictor of the future
  • Change is inevitable, and the rate of change is
    accelerating, requiring adaptive management
  • Globalization cannot be stopped, but it can be
    transformed
  • Institution building for international governance
    will continue
  • We can consciously work for change, or wait for
    catastrophe to force us to change
  • There will be new forms of wealth creation and
    business
  • Creativity and innovation will be increasingly
    necessary for success
  • Values and ethics will be fundamental to social
    transformation

9
Newdirections

10
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
  • Development that meets the needs of the
    present generation without compromising the
    ability of future generations to meet their
    needs
  • UN Commission on Environment and
    Development 1987
  • The private sector has been too competitive to
    create a joint vision of development and
    sustainability

11
Sustainability an ethical concept- we are
trustees or stewards of the planet's resources
and biodiversity- ensure sustainability and
equity of resource use into distant future-
consider the environmental consequences of
development activities- temper our actions with
moderation and humility- value nature in more
than economic terms- understand the natural
world and its role in humanity's collective
development both material and spiritualSustainab
le environmental management must come to be seen
not as a discretionary commitment mankind can
weigh against other competing interests, but
rather as a fundamental responsibility that must
be shouldered, a pre-requisite for spiritual
development as well as the individual's physical
survival.(based on Bahá'í International
Community, Valuing Spirituality in Development.
1998)
12
The importance of values
  • Values are what determine how humans relate to
    each other
  • They are the social equivalent of DNA, encoding
    the information through which society is
    structured
  • For society to evolve, its values must also
    progress
  • What values will help us to address the
    challenges of the 21st century?

13
Values for a sustainable society
  • Justice
  • Solidarity
  • Altruism
  • Respect
  • Trust
  • Moderation
  • Service

14
Rethinking the Economy
  • - The present economic system is not meeting
    human needs
  • - 50 years of economic development, despite some
    progress, has failed to meet is objectives
  • - There is no global governance for a global
    economic system

15
Questions
  • Is eating your only purpose in life?
  • Should profit be the only purpose of business?
  • Should you try to keep growing forever?
  • Should growth be the main goal of businesses and
    economies?

16
Economics for people
  • - Economics has ignored the broader context of
    humanity's social and spiritual existence,
    resulting in
  • - Corrosive materialism in the world's more
    economically advantaged regions
  • - Persistent conditions of deprivation among the
    masses of the world's peoples
  • - Economics should serve people's needs
    societies should not be expected to reformulate
    themselves to fit economic models.
  • - The ultimate function of economic systems
    should be to equip the peoples and institutions
    of the world with the means to achieve the real
    purpose of development that is, the cultivation
    of the limitless potentialities latent in human
    consciousness.
  • (adapted from Bahá'í International Community,
    Valuing Spirituality in Development, 1998)

17
New economic models
  • - further a dynamic, just and thriving social
    order
  • - strongly altruistic and cooperative in nature
  • - provide meaningful employment
  • - help to eradicate poverty in the world

18
Challenge to economic thinking from the
environmental crisis
  • - we can no longer believe that there is no limit
    to nature's capacity to fulfil any demand made on
    it by human beings
  • - giving absolute value to expansion, to
    acquisition, and to the satisfaction of people's
    wants is not a realistic guide to policy
  • - economic decision-making tools cannot deal with
    the fact that most of the major challenges are
    global

19
Is bigger always better?
  • What are the most appropriate scales for economic
    activities?
  • Are there limits to increasing productivity?
  • Should short term always win over long term?

20
Challenge to business
  • - How can economic efficiency, profit and wealth
    creation combine with corporate social
    responsibility and respecting environmental
    limits?
  • - How do we raise productivity and create
    employment?

21
For social sustainability
  • In increasingly diverse communities, how do we go
    from prejudice and withdrawal to open integration
    and unity?

22
Cooperation and Reciprocity
  • Cooperation and reciprocity are essential
    properties of all natural and human systems,
    increasing in more highly evolved and complex
    systems

23
Community
  • How do we create unity in diversity?
  • What is the best size for a community?
  • What does the information revolution mean for
    community life and organization?

24
JUSTICE AND EQUITY
  • - It is unjust to sacrifice the well-being of
    most people -- and even of the planet itself --
    to the advantages which technological
    breakthroughs can make available to privileged
    minorities
  • - Only development programmes that are perceived
    by the masses of humanity as meeting their needs
    and as being just and equitable in objective can
    hope to engage their commitment, upon which
    implementation depends
  • (based on Baha'i International Community,
    Prosperity of Humankind)

25
Solidarity
  • We should consider every human being a trust of
    the whole.
  • The goal of wealth creation should be to make
    everyone wealthy.
  • Voluntary giving is more meaningful and effective
    than forced redistribution.

26
HOW DO WE MAINTAIN THE ECOLOGICAL BALANCE OF THE
PLANET?

27
Preserving the Ecological Balance
  • Agriculture and the preservation of the
    ecological balance of the world are fundamental
    to the sustainable economic and social
    development of all countries

28
Living within environmental limits
  • To maintain the ecological balance, we must
  • - understand the operation of complex ecological
    systems
  • - create observation and management mechanisms at
    the scale of the systems
  • - reduce human impacts to a level appropriate to
    the vulnerability and resilience of the systems
  • - restore damaged systems to the level necessary
    to maintain natural and human ecosystem services
  • - replace exploitation of wild systems with
    cultivated products as far as possible
  • - allow development only to the extent that
    system improvements extend the carrying capacity
    of the ecosystem in question.

29
Renewable Resources
  • To be sustainable long into the future, the
    economy must be based on renewable resources
    (agriculture, forests, fisheries,
    bio-industries), closed materials cycles and
    integrated product lifecycles

30
The goalan organicallyunited world

31
IS THERE ANYHOPE?
  • The need today is for visionary leaders to relate
    practical realities to a new framework of values

32
The years ahead will be difficult, but you are
the reason for hopeThank you
  • The planet will thank you too
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