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Feedback to "The President's Blog on the WBCSD's website.

Björn Stigson: "Welcome to the 'Turbulent Teens'"
Ecoglobe's comment submitted 10 March 2011:

Dear Mr Stigson,

The Compact of Business, Politics and the discipline of Economics, which includes the WBCSD, has yet to understand that finite resources and increasing scarcities mean that we have only one choice: Stop Growth!

Increasing resource efficiency is no valid answer to economic and population growth, which are accelerating the depletion and destruction of nature and resources.

"Green Growth" etc. are nonsense, only suitable to delude people, including its concept designers. All growth is material and increases our pressure on the planet. Claiming that so-called "green growth" is being driven by countries like Denmark, Korea and China is factually wrong. China and Korea continue Business As Usual. When Denmark claims having "decoupled" energy use from economic growth then this must be due to expatriating the more polluting sectors of their GDP that are needed for their lifestyle to other parts of the world.

The Post Peak Oil era will soon start and then we'll be on the downslope of contraction, reduced industrial and agricultural outputs, rolling back of globalisation, food scarcities, hunger, riots, resource wars and probably mass human die-off.

Nature will correct the horrible human overshoot of the earth's carrying capacity - the overshoot that started to explode with the use of fossil fuels in the 17th century.

A more humane alternative would be if the BPE Compact decide to abolish their growth policy and start supporting a planned contraction of the economy and thus try to reach a level of sustainability.

Sustainabiliy refers to a society that can carry on unchanged for a long time.
It is clear that our modern society cannot carry on unchanged.

Sustainable development excludes growth and demands a contraction to much lower levels of resource use.

Kind regards ... Helmut Lubbers,
environmental scientist at

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"Posted by: Helmut lubbers | March 10, 2011 at 04:19 PM"
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Welcome to the "Turbulent Teens" Welcome to 2011 and to the "Turbulent Teens," as we call this decade in our Vision 2050 report. In the report, we outline the innovations and transformations needed in the next 10 years to put the world on track to a sustainable future by 2050. We also define "must-haves" by 2020 – milestones that will indicate that we are heading in the right direction.

The challenge is that we live in a "nobody-in-charge world" at the moment, and it is unlikely we will see any effective global governance emerge in the next 10 years.

So, our main option to address the must-haves is for governments, business and civil society to act, either together or independently. I believe business is in a unique position to take the lead here because it has the scope, scale and innovative capacity needed to make change of that magnitude happen.

Unless this is the case, I fear we will be missing the opportunity to put the world on a sustainable path.

What does the sustainable development landscape look like in 2011?

Many signs are indeed telling us the next decade will be turbulent. Let me mention a few:
•We are beginning to see natural resource constraints as exemplified by the increasing oil or food prices. We are also seeing scarcity of rare earth materials – needed in many manufactured goods – and increasing water stress in a number of regions.
•The consequences of this will be more focus on resource efficiency. A Green Race has started among the main economies to become the leading suppliers of resource-efficient, low-polluting products and services that will be in demand in the future. A number of Green Growth [sic!] initiatives are also starting, driven by organizations like the OECD and individual countries like China, Korea, and Denmark.
•We are witnessing a power shift from West to the emerging East while the US and the EU are preoccupied with stagnating growth, unemployment and public finances.
•The multilateral, global governance has got a "new lease on life" with the recent successes of the Biodiversity Convention meeting in Nagoya and the Climate Convention negotiations in Cancún. Yet, there is an increasing recognition that environmental challenges of this scale require bottom-up actions based on national plans rather than top-down target setting as illustrated by the Kyoto Protocol.
•In parallel, governments are also recognizing they have to collaborate with business to address these challenges as companies control the majority of resources, funding, and management capacity to deliver sustainable solutions - but in turn need appropriate regulatory frameworks to operate.
•Important elements of our global infrastructure are vulnerable to disruptions, in particular the transport system – as demonstrated last year with the chaos caused by the Icelandic volcano eruption and later the snow storms. Disruptions of other vital elements such as electricity and water are likely to happen in the future. Again, market forces alone cannot create a functioning global infrastructure – they need government rules and oversight.

All these signs are happening against a background of increased interest in sustainability issues. For business, sustainable development has become a strategic issue for how to position a company on how to participate in the new Green Race. This is far different from the earlier moral focus on CSR. This interest is also coming from some (previously) unexpected places such as the media. Testimony to this is the recent strategic alliance between the WBCSD and The Guardian news publication to join their advisory panel on sustainable business practices and provide monthly blog posts on sustainability topics.

So, what’s next?

Winston Churchill once said: "It's not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what's required".

We have to do what is required to maintain well-functioning, stable societies that are good places for doing business. The role of business in society is to deliver goods and services that society needs and to do this with minimum resource use and pollution. At the same time, companies need to generate return for shareholders and create economic growth, jobs and investment. We cannot succeed in societies that fail.

The "Turbulent Teens," with all their transformations and innovations, will also present huge opportunities for those companies that understand society’s challenges and the need for innovative solutions.

Posted on January 27, 2011 at 11:09 AM at "Welcome to the 'Turbulent Teens'"