IUF 20 ans

Solutions for a sustainable and desirable future

Robert Costanza

University Professor of Sustainability and Director, Institute for Sustainable Solutions Portland State University.

A high and sus­tai­na­ble qua­lity of life is a cen­tral goal for huma­nity. Our cur­rent socio-eco­lo­gi­cal regime and its set of inter­connec­ted world­views, ins­ti­tu­tions, and tech­no­lo­gies all sup­port the vision of unli­mi­ted growth of mate­rial pro­duc­tion and consump­tion as a proxy for qua­lity of life. However, abun­dant evi­dence shows that, beyond a cer­tain thre­shold, fur­ther mate­rial growth no longer signi­fi­cantly contri­bu­tes to impro­ve­ment in qua­lity of life. Not only does fur­ther mate­rial growth not meet huma­nity’s cen­tral goal, there is moun­ting evi­dence that it crea­tes signi­fi­cant road­blocks to sus­tai­na­bi­lity through increa­sing resource cons­traints (i.e., peak oil, water limi­ta­tions) and sink cons­traints (i.e., cli­mate dis­rup­tion, pol­lu­tion). Overcoming these road­blocks and crea­ting a sus­tai­na­ble and desi­ra­ble future will require an inte­gra­ted, sys­tems level rede­sign of our socio-eco­lo­gi­cal regime focu­sed expli­citly and directly on the goal of sus­tai­na­ble qua­lity of life rather than the proxy of unli­mi­ted mate­rial growth. This tran­si­tion, like all cultu­ral tran­si­tions, will occur through an evo­lu­tio­nary pro­cess, but one that we, to a cer­tain extent, can control and direct through the pro­cess of shared envi­sio­ning. Visions and models of inte­gra­ted sets of world­views, ins­ti­tu­tions, and tech­no­lo­gies are needed to sti­mu­late and seed this evo­lu­tio­nary rede­sign. The pro­cess of crea­ting a shared vision of the future is also a key ele­ment of real demo­cracy.