Global Exchange is a membership-based international human rights organization dedicated to promoting social, economic, and environmentsl justice around the world.

Sustainovation: Green Economy Meets Digital Innovation

5th June, 2012 - Posted by Kevin Danaher - 1 Comment

Kevin Danaher

Kevin Danaher is a co-founder and board member of Global Exchange, and  Outreach Program Manager at SF Environment.

June 5th is World Environment Day. To mark the occasion, Kevin Danaher shares his thoughts on a new type of economic enterprise that values the triple bottom line.

Despite the bad news about the environment— depletion of clean air, water and soil, extreme weather events that damage infrastructure and kill people, the melting of glaciers and polar ice caps, rising oceans levels—we are seeing an encouraging cross-fertilization between the green economy and the digital economy.

We are witnessing the birth of a new type of economic enterprise—a triple-bottom-line model that puts social equity and environmental restoration on an equal footing with financial sustainability (profit). That economic model will steadily replace the old profit-centric model as the impacts of environmental destruction and inequality get impossible to ignore.

The new economic model sees sharing as the new buying, and Bay Area companies are leading the way. airbnb allows people to share living space. GetAround allows people to share their motor vehicles. LiquidSpace allows people to share workspaces. Everywhere you look, people are coming together to strengthen the local, resource-sharing economy.

This new economic model undermines the old myth that saving the environment will destroy jobs and slow economic growth. The data are showing us that the eco-enterprise model—making money by saving resources rather than destroying them—creates more and better jobs than the old model.

A study by the Pew Charitable Trust found that green jobs in the U.S. grew more than twice as fast as the overall job market between 1998 and 2007, and suffered fewer setbacks. The private sector has invested over $2.4 trillion in green companies and technologies since 2007, and the projection is for future investments of $1 trillion annually – an amount necessary to accelerate a global transition to sustainability.

This trend has been especially true in the San Francisco Bay Area. Last year the 415 area code pulled in $3 billion in new venture capital.

There is a straightforward supply-and-demand driver of these trends. As the natural resource base gets depleted, it becomes more profitable to conserve resources and develop renewable substitutes. A business that finds ways to make more profit healing nature than destroying it is bound to be successful.

There are buildings in San Francisco that are saving tens of thousands of dollars per year in operating costs due to changes promoted by the SF Department of Environment. We are proving that sustainability can be profitable.

And we Americans have a special responsibility to promote matriotism (love of Mother Earth), because we are less than 5 percent of the world’s population but we use 25 percent of the world’s resources and we produce more than 25 percent of the world’s pollution.

Green economy in action in Detroit Photo Credit: Samantha Frick

Matriotism involves creating a “solutionary” culture where people feel empowered to change the things in their neighborhood that need upgrading (planting more trees, promoting community farming, increasing the rate of composting and recycling). It means creating a culture of “sustainovation”: innovation that promotes sustainability.

Matriotism also requires that we learn how to become good ancestors. The masons who built the foundation layers of the cathedrals in Europe that took centuries to build knew that they would not see the final product of their work. But they also knew that they had to do very solid, precise work because of all the weight that would eventually rest on the foundations they were putting in place.

We are the modern equivalent of those masons. We are laying the foundations of a future sustainable global economy that will have no starving children, no clear-cut forests, no wars for oil, and no endangered species. The only questions revolve around how long that will take and how we will muster the courage to save humanity from itself.

And we already have a prime directive to guide us on this challenging journey, from the green architect, William McDonough: “How do we love all the children, of all species, for all time?

Take Action!

Explore sustainability for yourself…Travel to Cuba with Global Exchange on the Sustainable Agriculture and Urban Gardens trip, or another one of the many sustainability-themed Reality Tours trips coming up.

One Response to “Sustainovation: Green Economy Meets Digital Innovation”

  • Att: One and All.

    Global 2012 Calling for World Freedom when we want it.

    Dedicated to those who have gone before us!

    Isn’t it better to know the truth & immobilize things that are not in our best interests or ought we plant our fearful corporate-farmed heads collectively in the sand & be ‘..ucked’ from behind and wasted without permission?
    Our moral obligation as people who are working towards universal social, cultural and economic harmony is to find and use the smoothest possible path that maximizes Humanity’s potential collective ability to bring an end to corporate deceptions and adopt a world-universal reality system of natural sustainability.
    We each have a truly basic obligation to ourselves, as family members of Humanity itself, to be objectively self-responsible and realistically truthful with ourselves and the destructive belief systems which we are programmed to support.
    Under the dark cover of deception, we have all been led down ‘the garden path’ of treats and sweets,… blindly submitting to our own foolish destruction by thinking it’s all OK. But it’s not OK!
    Let’s trap and immobilise ‘Evil-Cause’ with a
    World Self Declaration of Intent and a Global
    Truth/Sorcery Inquisition and Final Closure.

    Then we can pave Nature’s way with bloodless
    Gold and untarnished truth in an eternal world
    of infinite adventure and unconditional love.

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