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Our Challenge

As Stewart Brand said in the introduction to the Whole Earth Catalogs,

"If we are going to act like gods, we might as well get good at it."

And Biomimicry is one key, and in a sense, one of the legacy's of the Whole Earth movement. Like Buckminster Fuller's comprehensive antipatory design science, Biomimicry is (1) the exploration and understanding of nature, i.e., the environment, as the technology and economy of an exquisitely evolved and designed regenerative life support system (living machine) that has been tested and developed over 4.8 billion years of evolution, and then (2) applying those battle-hardened principles to all aspects of human activity--designing, creating, and managing of society, from industrial products, to urban and regional systems, to public policy, business, the economy, etc.

Key Questions

Sustainability 2030's (S2030) research/practice program addresses the following key questions:

1. How can you/we become effective, powerful, even transformational forces for sustainability?

2. What is the program required for ultimate sustainability success--the end game?

3. Who has part of the answer now (current sustainability champions), how far do they take us, and how can we harness the state-of-the-art leading edge sustainability to an innovative research/practice program that gets us to ultimate success in the limited time remaining?  (more)


Advance, accelerate, and amplify an accurate understanding of the sustainability challenge and how to harness the power and potential of sustainability for an effective response before time runs out. The Strategic Sustainability2030 Institute  (S2030I) is a web-based think/do tank (more).



April 2013, Chicago, APA National Conference.

May 13-15, 2013, Seattle, Living Future unConference.

PAST (2012):

October 23-26, Portland, EcoDistrict Summit 2012.

July 31-Aug. 4, Portland, Ecosystem Services Conference.

May 2-4, Portland, The Living Future Unconference for deep green professionals.

June 15-18, Brazil, Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development

International Society of Sustainability Professionals
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Our Challenge

as Buckminster Fuller observed, is

"to make the world work for 100% of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone."

This goal is the essence of sustainable development! The Buckminster Fuller Institute (BFI) provides access to Bucky's legacy, including his comprehensive anticipatory design science revolution. Check out their website, their programs, and engage.

Problem & Way Out


Caption: "Sadly, the only proven way to achieve global GHG reductions so far has been economic recession." Comment: Fortunately, shifting to 100% renewables would catalyze the global transition to durable prosperity and community well-being in a way that would eliminate GHG production AND grow the economy <<continued>>. (See also: strategic sustainabilitynatural capitalismits four strategies, and RMI's Reinventing Fire [energy] Program.) 

APA Links

Green Urbanism - Formulating a series of holistic principles

Green Growth - Recent Developments (OECD)

Foundation Earth - Rethinking Society from the Ground Up

Reinventing Fire - A key transformational initiative of RMI worth knowing/watching.

A Quick-Start Guide to Strategic Sustainability Planning

NEW Report: Embedding sustainability into government culture.

New STARS LEED-like sustainable transportation tool for plans, projects, cities, corridors, regions.

Strategic Community Sustainability Planning workshop resources.

Leveraging Leading-Edge Sustainability report.

Winning or losing the future is our choice NOW!

How Possible is Sustainable Development, by Edward Jepson, PhD.

Legacy sustainability articles -- the Naphtali Knox collection.


TNS Transition to Global Sustainability Network

EcoDistricts -- NextGen Urban Sustainability

Darin Dinsmore: Community & Regional Sustainability Strategies and Planning

Sustainable Infrastructure: The Guide to Green Engineering and Design

APA-SCP (Sustainable Community Planning) Interest Group

Sustainability Learning Center

New path breaking Solutions Journal

Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development

Strategic Sustainability -- distance learning at BHT

Q4 Consulting - Mindfulness, Sustainability, and Leadership

RealClimate--Climate Science by Real Scientists

World Cafe--Designed Conversation for Group Intelligence

Real Change--Research Program for Global Sustainability Decision Making

RMI Conference, SF, 10-1/3-2009

Real Time Carbon Counter

Global Climate Change - Implications for US

Agenda for a Sustainable America 2009

ALIA Institute Sustainability Leadership

Frontiers in Ecological Economics

Herman Daly -- Failed Growth to Sustainable Steady State?

EOF - Macroeconomics and Ecological Sustainability

Gil Friend - Truth About Green Business

Sustainable Transpo SF

Google Earth-Day KMLs

AIA Sustainability 2030 Toolkit

Donella Meadows - Which Future?

Urban Mobility System wins Bucky Challenge 2009

Renewable Economy Cheaper than Systems Collapse

Population Growth-Earth Forum

Breakthrough Ideas-Bucky Challenge

Urban & Regional Planning-Cities at a Turning Point

John P. Holdren-Meeting the Climate Change Challenge

Stephen Cohen's Weekly Column in the New York Observer

Spaceship Earth -- Our Only Regenerative Life Support Machine


QUICK LINKS:  Website Orientation & Tour |  About S2030 | Sustainability 2030 Clips (news & resource  |  INITIATIVES:  APA CA Northern Sustainability Committee | Leveraging Leading Edge Sustainability Planning | Neighborhood Transit Centers 


 Public Affairs Commentary & Ideas from a Whole Systems and Strategic Sustainability Perspective

Inspiration: ”If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I knew the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than 5 minutes”.
— Albert Einstein


Regenerative Urbanism: The Meaning, Challenge, and Promise

If regenerative urbanism’s promise is true, then inventing cities that “make” more than they “take” will lead us out of our present sustainability planning predicament--current practice that cannot produce the needed systems-level sustainability performance or produce it quickly enough to avoid causing irreversible systems change. In so doing, we would also achieve the world’s new UN Sustainable Development Goals and Habitat III’s New Urban Agenda.  What a promise; what an opportunity! Let’s continue to deepen our understanding, turn up the innovation, make mid-course corrections, and keep on going!

Click here for the draft article or here for the published version.


Making Renewables Easy - State of Iowa Takes the Lead

Apple is locating its new data center in Iowa, all other things being equal, because "Iowa is the easiest state in the country for companies to purchase renewable energy."
In addition, "Governor Kim Reynolds added that Iowa can also ensure more reliable access to electric power, another key factor in Apple's decision. 'We have the geographic benefit of being statistically one of the safest areas in the United States, free from hurricanes, earthquakes, and rolling blackouts, that might threaten the integrity of data centers,' Reynolds said.

Click to read more ...


Tesla's Big Batteries Make Renewables Work - Move Over Fossil Fuels

"Within 100 days (from July 7, 2017), there will be a huge battery system making South Australia’s energy grid clean, affordable and reliable, and benefitting the eastern states along with it."

"Renewable energy, which obviously wins on emissions, is now beating coal on cost. What’s more, with an energy grid managed effectively by people who want renewables to succeed, it is no less reliable than fossil fuels."

"Elon Musk’s agreement to build the world’s largest battery for South Australia isn’t just an extraordinary technological breakthrough that signs coal’s death warrant. It’s potentially a game changer in the way we do politics, reinserting the importance of basic reality into a debate which has been bereft of it for too long."

(Read More in the Guardian)


Future-ready City-Regions: The Next Competitive Edge?

A recent post by Alex Steffan poses some provocative challenges to urban planning, urban planners, and municipal executives around the world. In a sense, it illuminates the core challenge and intention of the world's new Sustainable Development Goals and New Urban Agenda. The following post paraphrases and excerpts the key points.

In light of our climate and our other planetary crises, many of us and our children will likely make residential location decisions in the coming years based on a city/region’s future-readiness. But which city to select; maybe the most "future-ready?"

Click to read more ...


The World's New Urban Agenda & SDGs

With the world's adoption of new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the New Urban Agenda (NUA), years 2015 and 2016, respectively, were a watershed for urban policy and planning in general and sustainability in particular.

At no time in history has urban policy, planning, and sustainability been elevated to such central prominence.

Summaries and links to resources can be found in the following posts on the APA California Northern Sustainability Committee's web blog, Plan-it Sustainably, as follows:





Regenerative Urbansism - a Summary

This idea for a literature review of the emerging theoretical and practice arena of what usefully can be called "regenerative urbanism," is worth the larger effort involved. Until then, this short summary and list of key resources will have to suffice.

As 21st century planning and design accelerate out of the first decade, a variety of emerging ideas and practices in the planning-design-build professions with roots in the 1990s and beyond are coalescing around the theme of living – living cities, living buildings, cities alive, ecocities, biophilic cities—or more generally, living systems. The core concept of this theme and living systems is “regeneration.” Hence, the title regenerative urbanism, planning, design, etc.

These emerging, coalescing trends can be interpreted as laying the foundation for the next step in sustainability planning—a necessary sustainability 'pivot' from a net-negative, “doing-less-harm” mitigation approach or “paradigm” to a net-positive, “doing-good,” regenerative city paradigm. This shift represents a fundamental change not only for the planning-design-build professions, but for society itself. William McDonough and others have been characterizing this shift as one from a 19th century physics model of society, the economy, etc., to a 21st century biology model. Although simplistic as stated, and needing further development, this simple brushstroke helps illuminate a new source of understanding, innovation, and solutions with real potential for resolving the daunting, some might say impossible challenges humanity faces.

The posts and resources below provide a quick view into a subset of this emerging new regenerative systems paradigm (go here).


Earth Endangered by New Strain of Fact-Resistant Humans?

“These humans appear to have all the faculties necessary to receive and process information,” Davis Logsdon, one of the scientists who contributed to the study, said. “And yet, somehow, they have developed defenses that, for all intents and purposes, have rendered those faculties totally inactive.”

More worryingly, Logsdon said, “As facts have multiplied, their defenses against those facts have only grown more powerful.”

Click to read more ...


Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform

The Division for Sustainable Development (DSD) provides leadership in promoting and coordinating implementation of the sustainable development agenda of the United Nations. The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) which concluded on 22 June 2012, is been considered one of the largest conferences in the history of the United Nations. Governments renewed their strong political commitment to sustainable development and to promote integration and coherence of policies and the implementation of actions in the social, economic and environmental areas. See the Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform.

The Regenerative City 2030 Challenge

I spent last Thursday and Friday at the International Living Future Institute's (ILFI) Net Positive (Energy+Water) conference in San Francisco. During the Conference, and since, I found my brain in overdrive in ways it has not been in a long time. The key insight that crystallized this morning is: becoming a world community of regenerative cities (economically, ecologically, and culturally) by 2030 is our/society's hail Mary sustainability pass

That there is precious little time remaining to create the foundation we need for success is overwhelmingly clear. The only question is to whom to throw the pass, who will catch it and run it into the end zone? In other words, how to do it. But we don't need to know how, now, so much, as what and by when, and which direction, what level of performance, and the motivation to innovate all the way there. The way, the tools, don't all exist yet and must be invented--on the fly and just in time. Fortunately, just-in-time invention is humanity's strong suit. And then, of course, we need every team to be making the same play, in every game of the season and the focus of off season training. That is our vision, mission, goal, all wrapped up in one statement. Success will require alignment and a strong, accurate, and focused set of principles, design parameters, an integrative framework/foundation, and objectives will all be instrumental (forthcoming).

To whom to look for inspiration, motivation, example?  The European Community goal of a carbon neutral, cyclical economy by 2030 is one example. The City of Palo Alto is contemplating net zero energy in 10 years. ILFI recently up-scaled its Living Building Challenge to the community and launched its Living Future Congresses as an innovative leadership response to address the policy barriers to sustainability . . . .

Scott T. Edmondson, AICP



SDSN Knowledge Cloud

The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (, is a global initiative of the United Nations. It brings together the world’s foremost experts on sustainable development – including health, education, climate change, agriculture and food systems, sustainable investment, and other related fields – to offer a comprehensive core curriculum, equipping the next generation of “Sustainable Development Practitioners” to take on the complex challenges facing our planet. Classes are free and on line. This is a fantastic new educational resource for sustainable development.

Classes include (Fall 2014):

Click to read more ...


Wealth Paradox: GDP ($72T/yr) Destroys $20T/Yr in Ecosystem Services

Apparently, from 1997-2011, global GDP production ($72T; 2012) destroyed $20T/yr in ecosystem services.  How long can this business model last? Would you invest in this firm? Even buy it's products and services?

Read an update to ecosystem services accounting by the father of the method himself, in an email from Robert Costanza, as follows:  

Click to read more ...


Sustainable Futures Institute

The Sustainable Futures Institute was established at Michigan Technological University as an incubator for research, education and outreach efforts related to sustainability. SFI addresses sustainability from multiple disciplines - fitting the discipline to the challenge, rather than expecting the challenge to fit pre-established disciplinary methods.

Click to read more ...


Jumpstarting Solar Finance

A new crowdfunding source, "Mosaic, an Oakland-based startup company, connects solar-power-seeking businesses and nonprofits with hundreds of investors. Investors contribute a minimum of $25 to a project. Over the next 5 to 10 years -- depending on the project -- the investors will make that money back, plus interest. The return on the investment ranges from 4.5 to 6.4 percent annually, depending on the project. 

Click to read more ...


WEF “Global Risks 2014” Report -- Solve Climate Change Now (or else!)

Bob Willard, consumate sustainability champion, declared that it was time for sustainability champions to unleash three risk arguments for more proactive action on climate change. Last week, he discovered a goldmine of support for the company-level and society-level risk arguments in the debate about climate destabilization: a new report from the World Economic Forum (WEF), “Global Risks 2014.”

Click to read more ...


America's Feel-Good Oil Bonanza - A Dangerous Policy Addiction or Renewed Prosperity?

Daniel Lerch critiques the recently released Energy Information Administration's (EIA) Annual Energy Outlook 2014 (AEO 2014), which foresees impending and long-term US oil abundance as not just surprising—but a dangerous return to a 2004 way of thinking.  Businessman and policy professionals are embracing the bonanza as a newly discovered profitable, common-sense, no-brainer bridge to a longer-term transition to renewable energy. However, it may be a siren call that could crash the economy onto the rocky shoals irreversible climate change and potentail catastrophe.

Click to read more ...


Municipal Resilience to What? - A Post Carbon Institute Report

The Post Carbon Institute announces the release of our latest report, Resilient against what?: How leading U.S. municipalities are understanding and acting on resilience.  Resilience is often understood simply as the ability to “bounce back” from a single disaster like a hurricane or earthquake. This report found that leading US municipalities already have a much more sophisiticated understanding of resilience involving economic, energy, and social challenges—and they're putting it into action through policies, regulations, and programs.Post Carbon Institute announces the release of our latest report, Resilient against what?: How leading U.S. municipalities are understanding and acting on resilience.  

Citizens Climate Lobby

Citizens Climate Lobby is a non-profit, grassroots advocacy organization focused on national policies to address climate change. We train and support volunteers to reclaim their democracy and engage elected officials and the media to generate the political will for solutions that will stabilize the Earth’s climate.

“If the political will of the people is asleep at the wheel, then the political will of government is likely to be asleep at the wheel.” - Sam Daley-Harris Founder, President RESULTS

Click to read more ...


Death of Peak Oil - NOT Likely!

If 2013 was the year the specter of peak oil died, then 2014 is the year sanity returns. Curiously, IEA reports at the beginning of 2013 fueled the death of peak oil hysteria, even as it had previously written about the irrelevance of the supply of oil for the fossil fuel industries survival. If the increasing regulation

Click to read more ...


Biomimicry Meets Planning?

See the featured Urban Greenprint project (end of post), other resources, and the conference link below for a quick glimpse of an inspiring range of innovative, leading-edge, regenerative/ecological/biomimicry-based urban planning projects. 

This range of initiatives may be useful for planners in furter defining the goal, domain, and methods of sustainability planning (the profession or an individual department).  These projects are too design/building focused to define the full domain of planning, but the connections to the larger city and a/the method is illuminated.  There is not much biophilia or biodiversity directly featured, but it is embedded.

The question to planners: what would the “planning” behind this work look like (code, general plan policies, guidelines, themes, project types, stakeholder engagement initiatives, etc.)?

Click to read more ...


Net Zero Walgreens?! Implications for Transformation

Walgreens' embrace of net zero retail, is laudable, particularly because of the potential for its adoption to drive the normalization of net zero building performance industry wide. In addition, it's authenticity is reflected in seeking Living Building Challenge (LBC) certification, the only sustainability framework that embraces the ultimate sustainability goals of net zero as a minimum and restorative impacts as the standard. As you likely know, the LBC won the Buckminster Fuller Challenge in 2012 as the most promising innovation to drive global sustainability.

Click to read more ...