Cents and Sustainability
Cents and Sustainability: securing our common future by decoupling economic growth from environmental pressures
By Michael H. Smith, Karlson ‘Charlie’ Hargroves and Cheryl Desha, with introductions by Jim MacNeill and Robert Purves and forewords by Gro Harlem Brundtland, Rajendra Pachauri and Kenneth Ruffing.
About this book
Cents and Sustainability is a clear-sighted response to the 1987 call by Dr Gro Brundtland in "Our Common Future" to achieve a new era of economic growth that is "forceful and at the same time socially and environmentally sustainable". The Brundtland report argued that not only was it achievable, but that it was an urgent imperative in order to achieve a transition to sustainable development while significantly reducing poverty and driving "clean and green" investment.
With some still arguing for significantly slowing economic growth in order to reduce pressures on the environment, this new book, Cents and Sustainability, shows that it is possible to reconcile the need for economic growth and environmental sustainability through a strategy to decouple economic growth from environmental pressures, combined with a renewed commitment to achieve significant environmental restoration and poverty reduction. Beginning with a brief overview of some of the most pressing environmental challenges of our time, the book then explains "decoupling theory", overviews a number of factors that can undermine and even block efforts to decouple in both developed and developing countries, and then discusses a number of key considerations to assist the development of national 'decoupling strategies'. The book then focuses on presenting evidence to support greater action, not just on climate change, but also on decoupling economic growth from the loss of biodiversity and the deterioration of natural systems, freshwater extraction, waste production, and air pollution.
In the lead up to the 2012 United Nations Earth Summit and beyond, Cents and Sustainability will be a crucial guide to inform and assist nations to develop strategies to significantly reduce environmental pressures, strengthen their economy, create jobs and reduce poverty.
"We can do well by doing good, and in fact must if the world is to be both sustainable and just. Cents and Sustainability is an important road map to achieve these complementary goals."—Professor Stephen H. Schneider, Stanford University, contributor to all four IPCC assessments, and author of Science as a Contact Sport.
Cents and Sustainability helps move the debate beyond "growth versus the environment", focusing on the potential for dramatic increases in resource productivity. Now more than ever, realizing the vision of sustainable development is imperative to achieve a prosperous, just and ecologically viable common future."—Professor Eban Goodstein, director of the Bard Centre for Environmental Policy, Bard College, New York and author of The Trade-off Myth: fact and fiction about jobs and the environment.
About the authors
Dr Michael H. Smith, a research fellow at the Australian National University's Fenner School of Environment and Society, is a co-founder of The Natural Edge Project (TNEP) and was the research director from 2002–2010, hosted in-kind by ANU. Working with the TNEP team Michael co-authored a number of books, online education programs and industry sustainability action plans focusing on how to operationalise sustainable development from an ecological modernisation perspective. Michael's PhD, entitled "Advancing and Resolving The Great Sustainability Debates and Discourses", demonstrated that it was possible to cost effectively achieve significant decoupling economic growth from environmental pressures including greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity loss, freshwater withdrawal, air pollution and waste production.
Karlson 'Charlie' Hargroves, a co-founder and the director of TNEP is hosted in-kind as a research fellow at Griffith University, graduating from civil and structural engineering at the University of Adelaide, and undertaking his PhD supervised by Professor Peter Newman at Curtin University. Together with the TNEP team, he has developed a number of books, journal papers, online education programs, industry action plans, and community capacity building programs, working leaders in the field across the world. In 2005 Charlie spent 12 months on secondment as the CEO of Natural Capitalism Inc, USA, with Hunter Lovins, and represents the team as an associate member of the Club of Rome.
Cheryl Desha is the deputy director of TNEP, and a lecturer in the School of Engineering at Griffith University, graduating from environmental engineering from Griffith University, then working in an international consulting engineering firm for four years, in addition to government secondments. In 2005 Cheryl was selected as the Engineers Australia Young Professional Engineer of the Year. Working with the TNEP team Cheryl has co-authored a number of books, journal papers, online education programs, industry action plans, and community capacity building programs. She completed her PhD in 2010 on rapid curriculum renewal towards education for sustainable development.
The Natural Edge Project (TNEP) is a sustainable development think-tank which operates as a collaborative partnership for research, education, and policy development on innovation for sustainable development. TNEP's mission is to contribute to and succinctly communicate leading research, case studies, tools, policy and strategies for achieving sustainable development across government, business and civil society.
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