The emergence of a sustainable future: Brainstorming better ways to globalize at the esalen institute

World Futures 59 (8):615 – 623 (2003)
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This article provides excerpts and highlights from the insights of twenty global leaders, business executives, and sustainability experts who gathered at the Esalen Institute in California for four days in March 2002 to discuss how to best leverage change toward an environmentally sustainable and socially equitable global economy. The conference topic was sparked by the path-breaking book Natural Capitalism, which outlines an expanded vision of capitalism suitable for the environmental era. The natural capitalism model is qualitatively different from industrial era capitalism in that it counts both humanity and ecosystem services as valid sources of capital in addition to the traditionally recognized sources, financial and manufactured. One early adopter of natural capitalism, CEO of the Atlanta -based carpet tiling company, Interface, shared how increased efficiency and greater employee and customer satisfaction have resulted. Although some of the conference participants forecasted that globalization is likely to bring humanity face-to-face with a planetary-wide environmental, financial, and social crisis, the overall message of this gathering was positive. Through the imaginative implementation of evolutionary and biomimicry design models in the cultural, financial, and economic spheres, novel solutions to global problems already are being discovered, and, if such innovative and solutions-oriented design thinking can spread rapidly enough, humanity may be able to ameliorate-or even obviate-the deleterious effects of globalization



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