Could it be that we are witnessing an inflection point in the global awareness and embrace of sustainability?

Sean Esborn-Hargens one of the leaders at the forefront of developing the whole field of Integral Ecology  engages the nested voices of Self, Other and the World in ways that are shifting the whole understanding of ecology. Like Brian Eddy who has mapped the Integral Ecological model of the lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, biosphere and anthroposphere, Sean has been convening conversations with multiple ecological personas in complex cultural and systems environments.

While Sean and Brian are the natural children of the pioneers who opened the paths of the first Earth Day (42 years ago) what other evidence of ecospheric change can we notice on the eve of Rio+20?

Much to my astonishment I listened to CEO’s (and/or their consultants) of the Fortune 100 talk about their sustainability strategies at the Fortune Green Brainstorm earlier this week.

I heard that Coca Cola had invested $1 billion dollars in the mountain farmers of Tanzania so that they could steward the forests in the mountains to protect the hydrological cycle that produces the water that is 98% of the input for Coca Cola’s product.

I heard that Wal-Mart had changed its fleet of trucks to fuel-efficient hybrid 18 wheelers and was using bio-fuel from the cooking fats produced by their restaurants.

I heard that New York City had negotiated a $1 billion deal with the Catskill farmers to preserve the quality of its water sources – rather than spend $6 billion on a new water management plant.

What is happening out there? Is it possible that the Fortune 100 has discovered that when Mother Nature is no longer a “free” resource, corporations start measuring success in more accountable and transparent ways? Are they realizing for corporate success if not survival they must quantify their external costs as internal costs in order to manage future risks throughout their supply chains? Are the supply chains being drawn into a collaboration not only with the F100 but with related Governments and Civil Society??? Could it be that the circle of care is actually widening because the economies of corporations, cities and nations are waking up to the sensitivity of ecosystems?

When Jared Diamond points out that China has lost 1/3 of its agricultural productivity by destroying its earthworms … and Pavan Sukhdev observes that the cost of manual pollination vs bee pollination is an impressive $7 billion a year (not to mention the $90+ billion value of the agricultural product dependent on it)… and Unilever announces that it is no longer working towards or reporting quarterly results because it is contrary to their commitment to long-term sustainability… I think we have to admit that something is happening.

Sukhdev says the process of changing attitudes to sustainability in corporations (and their leaders) happens through 4 stages:

  1. Discovery – wake up to the reality that Nature is not “free” but a responsibility of all
  2. Measurement/Quantification – include the costs that have been excluded as commons so we can avoid the tragedy of the commons
  3. Management/Disclosure – share the cost of using the commons and how much investment is required to replenish and restore it
  4. Adoption/Influence/Action – develop strategies, impact spheres of influence and take action that is aligned with sustainable practice

It is timely to observe, how these stages lead to activating the three principles for honouring the ecosphere of our cities and eco-regions, set out in Integral City: Meshworking Evolutionary Intelligences for the Human Hive:

1. Honor the climate and geography of your city.

2. Steward the environment.

3. Add value to the earth space.

I think the F100 commitment to green change has created the first trickles of a multi-sector groundswell. My optimism is encouraged!! Happy Earth Day 2012!!


This blog is a prologue to the Integral City webinar conference  City 2.0 Co-Creating the Future of the Human Hive . We are inventing a new operating system for the city.  Click to get more details re the Free Expo and eLaboratory membership  scheduled September 4-27  2012. You are invited to attend and participate.