The future quality of life on our blue planet depends on us re-imagining how we live, make, use and dispose of ‘stuff’.
The ‘stuff’ in question makes up all the elements of our disparate, global lifestyles and practices. How do we manage not only to survive but also continue to prosper while bringing billions of others out of poverty?
What's more, how do we do that while not just maintaining environmental and ecological quality but dramatically restoring it and delivering the outputs at reduced cost? It will take nothing less than a dramatic re-engineering of our entire global economy and require a massive change in the way we think, design, manufacture, transport and consume (or not). It means figuring out what it takes to live within the global means of one planet and interact with each other, and the natural environment.
Leading sustainability figures Dr Martin Blake, professor David Hood AM and friends took a major step on the journey toward this end when they recently launched Blue Australasia in Brisbane. Blue Australasia is a collaboration of eminent Australians and Top 100 Sustainability Leaders who base their work on the principles of Dr Gunter Pauli’s ‘Blue Economy’. Pauli is the author of the report to the Club of Rome and was the standout keynote speaker at last year’s Green Cities Conference.
Dr Blake is formerly the Head of Sustainability for UK Royal Mail is a founder of the “be sustainable” group of companies based in Singapore and an adjunct professor at both Griffith University and the University of Southern Queensland. Hood was the 2012 National President of Engineers Australia and founding chairman of the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia (ISCA).
The pair combined to create this collaboration to engage Australia in the concept of the ‘Blue Economy’. Inspired by the circular way in which ecosystems work, the purpose of the Blue Economy is to ensure that the economy works in the same way nature does, as a closed-loop, but regenerating, system where nothing is wasted and even waste is upcycled into food for the next organism.
The Blue Economy is a business and societal response to environmental, resource and social challenges. It is not sustainability as you know it. It is about finding ‘disruptive’ new ways for industry and people to work within the natural systems, promoting and using cyclic, systemic, biomimicry-based regenerative processes that massively reduce impacts and consumption.
More importantly, it restores nature while dramatically reducing costs, maintaining profits and securing happiness and well-being.
Conceptually, the Green Economy has focussed on reducing impacts on the environment. The Blue Economy takes a step further and seeks to find multiple levels of synergistic benefits between diverse manufacturing processes to yield massive increases in efficiencies, and to regenerate lost natural and social capital.
Many of the concepts drawn from in the Blue Economy incorporate work done by others, including the concepts of industrial ecology, restorative sustainability, positive development, the circular economy and others.
One of the common themes from these works is a change from the consuming of ‘stuff’ to the use of services and utilities, not goods. As Aristotle remarked more than two thousand years ago, "True wealth is the use of things, not their possession."
Blue Economy is where the best for health and the environment is cheapest and the necessities for life are free, thanks to a local system of production and consumption that works with what we have locally and readily available.
One of the keys to getting there is re-imagining how we do things by using a practice known as Integrative Design Practice or IDP. IDP unlocks the boundaries on ‘Business as Usual’ and divines multiple, simultaneous, systemic synergies to deliver the sort of ‘Factor 10’ outcomes that will be the minimum economy-wide enhancement required by the Blue Economy.