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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


People WILL Pay for Clean Energy!

You could cut the coal-burning air pollution in Downtown Pittsburg with a knife in 1940.

By 1950, residents could see downtown again after passing an air pollution control ordinance in 1946.

Check out this photo essay by Kevin Tang on BuzzFeed.


Climate Update

Climate change is upon us, and almost every facet of California’s natural and built environment is being affected. Increasing global temperatures are causing significant effects at global, regional, and local scales. In the past century, average global temperature has increased by about 0.8°C (1.4°F), and average global sea level has increased by 17 to 21 centimeters (7 to 8 inches) (IPCC, 2013). Sea level at the San Francisco tidal gauge has risen 20 centimeters (8 inches) over the past century, and the National Research Council projected that sea level may rise by as much as 140-165 centimeters (55-65 inches) in California by 2100 (NRC, 2012). The Coastal Commission has developed this guidance to help California’s coastal communities prepare for the effects of sea-level rise.

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Defining Sustainability & Planning's Role

A Formative Moment

Society finds itself in the midst of a formative step in forging approaches to sustainability. Many approaches have been tried, from those of the first-generation environmental movement of the 1960s to those of the post-1992 Rio period. They continue to be developed for businesses, organizations, municipalities, and communities. As a result, an ever-expanding set of bewidering options confronts anyone seeking to begin or enhance their sustainability initiative. This creates the challenge of choosing the "right" approach. On which basis is one to choose? These approaches differ in many respects, but one useful way of evaluating their efficacy is according to the definition of sustainability used and the role that the resulting understanding plays in success. This post explores the role that the definition of sustainability plays in an approach and then develops the implications for urban sustainability planning practice.

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The Future of Sustainability

Lincoln Institute of Land Policy (Future of Sustainability Video)

Ron Sims, former undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as part of the Obama administration, delivered the keynote address at the annual New England Smart Growth Leadership Forum December 2, 2011 at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, co-sponsored with the regional offices of HUD and EPA, and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston. The focus of the forum was the past, present, and future of HUD’s Sustainable Communities initiative. 


Time for Outrage--A Basis for Sustainable Development?

With the recent passing of Stephen Hessel, his polemic essay, Time for Outrage, along with his corageous life, can be seen as part of the conceptual foundation and value basis of sustainable development. Acquainting ourselves with his work is a fitting way to honor his life.

Stéphane Frédéric Hessel (20 October 1917 – 26 February 2013[1]) was a diplomat, ambassador,

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Alex Steffen - Powering Our Way to a Bright Green Future

Alex Steffen, a noted planetary futurist, is a prolific and inspiring thought leader. He founded and led from 2003-2010 to become a leading sustainability web-based magazine with a global following. He is a motivational speaker with a knack for asking the hard questions facing humanity in paradigm-shifting ways that illuminate otherwise hidden paths to, what he likes to call, a bright green future. Hi makes the often arcane and conceptual world of the sustainability challenge concrete, accessible, and shiny. Glimpse his products and him in action as follows:

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Sustainability Challenge from the "Poorest" President in the World

This excerpted BBC article on the World's "Poorest" President is noteworthy. The article is inspiring for its lesson by example (living simply voluntarily) and for its challenge to the world's leaders at Rio+20 regarding their over consumption model of sustainable development; but does living simply and consuming less go far enough for sustainability success? I found the question intriquing and offer a perspective and some resources for a strategic sustainability approach that is gaining momentum. It scales the noble goal of "living simply" (balance with nature's limits) to the global level with an economic decoupling strategy anchored in innovation, doing more with less, and biomimicry.

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SSI2030's New Year Challenge: Catalyze an "Educating the World for Regenerative Success" Campaign

I have found no better framing of our sustainability predicament that leads to an accurate understanding, the basis for authentic hope, and the possibility of constructive action than Donella Meadows' discussion (see the recent post) of love, hope and sustainability (Beyond the Limits: 1992). It is food for thought and a useful mental anchor, or at least perspective to remember, as we and the world move into 2013.

In addition, Sweden's educating a nation campaign  begun in 1990 with the launch of The Natural Step is an inspiring and instructive example of Donella's point. It may be worth contemplating them together as the basis for designing a global campaign in, say, 2014 (or sooner), such as, Educating the World for Sustainability (Regenerative) Decisions, Practice, and Success program!

The Strategic Sustainability Institute 2030's New Year's resolution and challenge to the sustainability community for 2013 is catalyzing such an educational/action initiative globally.

If you'd like to monitor or collaborate on this initiative, email me your interest. The Natural Step International (TNSI) is already reorganizing itself in this general direction, although not quite conceptualized as a collaborative, multi-stakeholder global educational/action campaign. Other organizations have or are mounting initiatives that could be stitched together into a larger, focused, poignant, and effective global campaign for strategic sustainability success.

Wishing you the best for transformational strategic sustainability in 2013,



New Year Greeting 2: Donella Meadows on Love, Hope, & Sustainability

I have found no better framing of our sustainability predicament that leads to an accurate understanding, the basis for authentic hope, and the possibility of constructive action than Donella Meadows' discussion of love, hope and sustainability (Beyond the Limits: 1992). It is food for thought and a useful mental anchor, or at least perspective to remember, as the world moves into 2013.

In addition, Sweden's educating a nation campaign begun in 1990 with the launch of The Natural Step is an inspiring and instructive example of Donella's point (see this post for a global educational campaign it inspired for me and SSI2030).

The summary below highlights Donella's key points for a constructive understanding of our predicament, and her rich, couple-page discussion follows in its entirety for your immersion, contemplation, enjoyment, inspiration, and synthesis.

Wishing you the best for transformational sustainability in 2013 (the clock is ticking),


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New Year Greeting 1: The Challenge & the Basis for Authentic Hope

The dawn of 2013 breaks with ominous storm clouds gathering on the sustainability horizon. We know them as climate change, peak oil, decreasing resource supply, increasing demand, accelerating environmental destruction (fisheries, forests, etc.), increasing inequality, fraying of the social fabric, and an ideological and fiscal assault on the commons. What are the implications for successfully responding to this widening sustainability challenge? Fortunately, the dawn also breaks with slivers of hope shining through the storm clouds in the form of inspiring innovation and leadership.

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Toxic Economic Development is NOT Development

Is our society capable of connecting the dots and operating from any type of objective logic which would avoid lethal assaults on the environment and society? Or are we destined as a species to extinction from an apparent emperor-has-no-clothes affliction for illogic? If economic development that creates toxic environments is NOT development by any rational and objective calculus, then why do we pursue it with an emperor-has-no-clothes logical illogic?

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C02 Emissions - Entering the Red Zone for a Catastrophic Climate Change Future

Recent reports (see below) indicate that even though some countries have consistently reduced their C02 emissions, global C02 production this past 2012 is the highest on record. In addition, global production trends appear to be dangerously pushing or exceeding levels required to keep global warming at or below 2 degrees Celsius. 

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Shift to Renewable Energy & Organic Agriculture Now

A high-level strategic understanding of the sustainability challenge, including the front-line climate change challenge, points quickly to two shifts that will drive the rest of the economic transformation to a sustainable society in the biosphere:  the shift to 100% renewable energy and the shift to 100% organic agriculture.

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New TNSI Global Strategic Sustainability Initiative

The Natural Step International (TNSI), after several years of strategic planning, has formulated a powerful, new, 5-year strategic direction 2012-2017.

The new direction addresses the cumulative insufficiency of global efforts to date, the increasing urgency and magnitude of the challenge, and the shrinking window of opportunity.

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Solar Breakthroughs and Natural Gas Push Back

Two unrelated recent articles illustrate the political economy of sustainability and the creative technological challenge, policy challenge, human character challenge, and evolutionary challenge of sustainability.

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Reflections on Whistler, The Natural Step, and Sustainability

I recently participated in a 3-day Natural Step strategic sustainability planning workshopheld in Whistler, British Columbia. The workshop and location combined to illuminate both leading edge progress and the challenge ahead. We were fortunate to have such an exceptional model of abundant nature and village-level sustainability at our doorsteps. My personal-professional reflections on the workshop and the state of the sustainability challenge and opportunities follow.

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Approaching the Planetary Tipping Point?

Finally, a decade or so after the path-breaking IPCC 4th Assessment Report that confirmed anthropogenic climate change (see article), a new report and multi-disciplinary research project (The Berkeley Initiative in Global Change Biology) is focusing on the likely global biological effects of climate change (see article).

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Life Beyond Growth

Alan AtKisson, long-time strategic sustainability pioneer, summarizes his new report and monitoring service, Life Beyond Growth, that integrates and synthesizes the range of economic ideas and practices that have gained currency in policy debates and practice recently. 

The Donella Meadows Institute published the summary, which provides links to the original AtKisson post and report.


Americans Don't Believe Adaptation or Geo-engineering Will Work

In a new paper based on a random survey, Brookings Institute Fellows "Christopher Borick and Barry Rabe summarize America's attitude towards using geoengineering solutions as a means to combat global warming. Highlights from their findings include:

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Sustainability Moves from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS)

Improve your home's and community's energy efficiency with a deep energy retrofit and reduce emissions by up to 75%. Engineering studies show electric cars are cleaner and cost less now!

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