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by Philip Sutton.
The time to do dramatic new things is in the upswing of the business cycle. People are optimistic, there's money to do things and people are prepared to take risks. However the time to prepare for dramatic new things is before hand!
During the next boom we need to encourage new consumption patterns and support them with appropriate products, we need to put in place new supportive infrastructure, encourage the spread of sustainability-promoting transformative technologies and we need to make sure that a strong ecotax package is put in place. All of these things have long lead times so we need to start preparing the ground now.
While the Australian population is very green by world standards, there is little awareness of what needs to be done to create an ecologically sustainable economy. This awareness needs to be generated. There is no consensus in business that there should be a transformation to an ecologically sustainable economy. That consensus needs to be built. Plans need to be prepared for the new consumption patterns, products, infrastructure, and transformative technologies and for the ecotax package. Early mover companies need to be engaged in the process. And the less visionary firms need to be involved through environmentally-related cost saving programs.
The business cycle gives (approximately) one chance per decade to set the economy off in a new direction. Given the urgent need for an ecological transformation of the economy and the unavoidable slowness of such change, we can't afford to miss the next chance to move boldly in a new direction.
A key strategy is to prepare firms to take on a sustainability-promoting approach. This involves the firms (a) making a public commitment to such an orientation, (b) reorienting their business strategies around products that assist society to achieve sustainability, (c) using influence to encourage other firms and the community to become sustainability-promoting, and (d) granting governments a 'licence to govern' by urging them to be proactive in efforts to foster a sustainable society.
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