2007/08/08 11:00 Debora Hammond, "Steps Towards a Sustainable Future", ISSS Tokyo 2007

2007/08/08 11:00 Debora Hammond, "Steps Towards a Sustainable Future", ISSS Tokyo 2007

This digest was created in real-time during the meeting, based on the speaker's presentation(s) and comments from the audience. The content should not be viewed as an official transcript of the meeting, but only as an interpretation by a single individual. Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected. Questions about content should be directed to the originator. The digest has been made available for purposes of scholarship, posted on the ISSS web site by David Ing.

Debora Hammond, Professor, Sonoma State University

Debora Hammond

Coming from the U.S. to Japan, Japanese are advanced in sustainability

Relevance to the conference theme:  an integrated science

Defining sustainability, Bruntland Commission (1987)

  • Meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs
  • Also other species
  • Should consider impact on the next seven generations, compared with discounting the future

Two root concepts

  • Sustain:  keep in existence without diminishing
  • Develop:  to improve, make better
  • Sustainable development sometimes seen as an oxymoron
  • What are we sustaining, and what are we developing?
  • Idea problematic, some use the term "regenerative", because sustainable is sometime used for sustaining economic growth on the current model

Further definitions:  US EPA Office of Sustainable Ecosystems and Communities

  • Not sustained growth
  • Not enrivonrment movement, but community movement
  • Humans are part of the ecosystem
  • www.epa.gov/ecocommunity

Sustainable community

  • Looking at the world from a new perspective
  • Encouraging a new way of thinking, change our behaviour
  • New habits

Triple bottom line:

  • Traditional models only economic
  • Economy, plus ecology
    • Boulding, as a founder of economic ecology
    • Dick Norgaard a student of Boulding, speaks of methodological pluralism
    • Conflicts between economy and ecology
  • Social equity, as the third dimension.

Improving the quality of live

  • Elimination of poverty
  • Consideration of resource base
  • Development beyond economic to include social and cultural
  • Generally think about environment issues and social issues as separate, as environment was from the middle class, not considering the poor.

Three different types of capital:

  • Financial and built capital:  goods, buildings, information resources ...
  • Natural capital: air quality, water, soil, ...
  • Social capital:  education, skills and health

Integration possible only with versatility (John Adams, ISSS 2006)

  • Economic worldview: egocentric, machine
  • Ecological worldview: ecocentric, organism
  • Societal worldview: homocentric, community

Models:  one of originals from Jim Miller

  • 20 subsystems
  • Processing matter / energy and information
  • Key subsystem: the decider

Boulding, from the Organizational Revolution

  • Receptor of information
  • Transmitter of information
  • Interpreter
  • Transmitter of orders
  • Effector 
  • Transmitter of effect

Economic worldview:  the inherent logic of money

  • So much of decision-making function is built into financial institutions, mediating, e.g. different currencies
  • Money is debt-based and interest-bearing, with an inherent incentive towards groth
  • This isn't value neutral

Hawkens:  The Global Casino

  • A system of money, looking for more ways to make more of itself
  • Profits before people
  • Maximizing shareholder return
  • Distorted logic:  when unemployment goes down, stock market goes down
  • Divides rich and poor
  • Pressure to exploit natural resources

One aspect of rethinking the future is rethinking money and finance

  • Bernard Lietaer:  The Future of Money, Of Human Wealth
  • e.g. money like water that runs off the ground, rather than circulating
  • Want to find ways to keep wealth circulating within a community
  • Strengthening local economics:  http://livingeconomies.org
  • Principles:  Equator and Collevecchio Principles
  • Rainforest Action Network trying to stop logging, at it happened elsewhere, discovered private banks were funding more than public banks
  • Cautionary, put pressure on, for Equator principles, which aren't as strong as the Collevecchio Principle
  • Jean Maier:  suggesting an currency sustainability standard, ranking currency exchange, determining value on the international market e.g. participation in weapons of mass destruction

Edward Abbey:  Growth ... cancer cell

Growth and development

  • Inherently wasteful
  • As moving towards a service economy, potential to change
  • Maximizing throughput (Boulding)
  • Exploits labour

Kenneth Boulding poem on Maturity

  • Shift from material abundance to quality of life

Economic feedback mechanisms

  • GNP/GDP: measure of wealth
  • Stock market
  • Per capital income

Hazel Henderson, Paradigms of Progress:  GNP is like running 747 on one gauge

A lot of things count that are inaccurate

  • All money that passes through marketplace
  • Fails to take unpaid labour into account
  • Doesn't take into account family breakdown

Redefining progress, http://rprogress.org as Genuine Progress Indicator

  • Since 1980s, GPI is flat
  • Marilyn Waring:  "If Women Counted", or Counting for Nothing
  • Wreck of Valdez contributed to work
  • Debit column

Oikonomia:  Management of household to increase its value to all members

  • Chrematistics:  Political economy to maximize short term value

Ecological worldview

  • Millenium Ecosystem Assessment

Enviromental crisis

Societal worldview

  • Human rights, security, quality of life, inclusiveness

Alexander and Kathia Laszlo, beyond the three E's

  • Introduced human development as a fourth dimension
  • Equity can be imposed from the top down, but human development requires people to take some responsibility on their own

Norgaard and Lele:  Sustainability and the Scientist's Burden

  • Collaborative

Applied systems thinking is inherently democratic

  • Need development of appropriate methodologies
  • Applying principles of self-organization for emergent order

Sustainable Enterprise Conference:  envision a sustainable community in the North Bay

  • Interdependence
  • Free and fair trade, balancing self-sufficiency with international trade
  • Increasing local investment opportunities
  • Tax destructive, not productive activities
  • Ecological: minimize fossil fuel use
  • Zero waste
  • Enhance local agriculture:  farming becoming one of the highest paid jobs
  • Water as a precious gift, living within the annual budget
  • Reduction in work week, slower pace of life, healthier

Obstacles to vision

  • Privatized profit and social costs
  • Media promoting non-sustainable lifestyle

Developing sustainability indicators

  • How to measure quality of life
  • Good jobs that support basic needs
  • Strength of local economy
  • e.g. ecological footprint, greenhouse gas emissions, Sustainable Seattle

Jonathon Porritt:  Core values

Donella Meadows: Scarcest resource is willingness to listen to each other

Albert Einstein:  Can not resolve any complex problem from the same manner of thinking