Blueprint for next phase of global sustainability released by NZ think tank

Wellington - The way forward for sustainable living beyond current international best practices such as reduce, reuse and recycle, and minimising the human “footprint” has been released today by think tank Sustainable Aotearoa New Zealand (SANZ) at an event hosted by the Chair of the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO, Bryan Gould.  

The publication, entitled “Strong Sustainability for New Zealand: principles and scenarios”, is a proposal for sustainable ways of living that give priority to the ecological values needed to sustain the natural systems and resources that societies and economies rely on. 

SANZ coordinated a group of well-respected experts in many different fields to come together in a think tank to come up with a solution for how human civilization can survive by becoming truly sustainable as a functioning part of earth’s ecosystems. 

The Chair of SANZ and editor of the publication, Dr Wayne Cartwright says, “Without this emphasis on sustaining ecological systems, there can be nolong-term viable social or economic structure for human beings. Therefore it makes complete sense economically and socially to ensure that this is the most important value for sustainability”. 

“These findings, which have been reported in the publication released today, are based on science, ethics, values and world views,” he says. “In our research we connected the strands of climate change, economic recession, environmental degradation, human inequality and social breakdown and found that current sustainability practices, while commendable, all add up to being no better than ‘less damaging’ than previous practices.” 

Rather than settling for being “less damaging”, the goal, if human civilisation is to continue, needs to be the rejuvenation of the earth’s failing ecosystems, according to Dr Cartwright. 

“Just as important is the need for a realisation that the world’s approach to economics is the main culprit for the degradation of our planet,” Dr Cartwright says. “The assumption that economic growth can continue is false,” he says. 

“This whole body of belief and practice is putting humanity and nature on a collision course, and that is why so many governmental policies on issues such as climate change, energy, waterways and soils are completely failing to address the real issues. 

“The globally unsustainable practices of the past and present have already started complex global changes that will take human civilisation outside the range of prior experience in terms of magnitude, speed of arrival and simultaneity”. 

“Debate about short-term issues will become increasingly irrelevant as civil society begins to accept the challenges of the future.” 

“Here in New Zealand, if the responses to these changes are sensible, they will mark the early steps on the path to a sustainable New Zealand – and SANZ believes that we have contributed to starting the journey with this publication.”



For more information please contact: 

Wendy Reid 
Executive Director 
Sustainable Aotearoa New Zealand Inc. 
027 493-7310