CATALYZING the Conversation: Cradle to Cradle
Designing Climate-Safe Economies
By Dr. Mary McBride
Issue 3 Spring 2010
The climate talks in Copenhagen presented an historic opportunity for a few decision makers to shape the future of the six to nine billion people not represented at the summit. Some 10,000 delegates had the opportunity to balance the need to create economic value with the need to create economies that value life and community wellbeing.
Copenhagen did not deliver on its goal of continued economic growth, accompanied by poverty reduction and restorative practices that assure the robust viability of our life support system. Action is now stalled as are most economies.
This issue of CATALYST focuses on those who will not be stalled. Those already working to create climate-safe economies using cradle to cradle practices. It offers hope and the power of example.
We focus on real life and real-time efforts that are already improving lives and communities while adding economic value. We track the impact of cradle to cradle practice in restoring community and natural capital. We explore waste management practices that can create economic value while enabling and enlivening. And, by so doing, we attempt to re-imagine and re-design the economic models that have created catastrophic risk as a by-product of economic growth.
Binding agreements are made by governments, but we cannot wait for governments to come to agreement on designing climate-safe economies. We must come together across national boundaries and disciplines and commit to action even as our politicians deliberate. Life-centered design principles and cradle to cradle thinking can deliver a future of energy security, economic wellbeing and low carbon growth. Communities can prosper as markets do. The idea of balancing the needs of economy, equity and environment are not a naïve hope, but rather, the only hope of sound economic growth.
Climate change presents risks that we cannot take and opportunities that we must seize to design and build an infrastructure for the future. Design matters. Strategic design can make a difference; “For good or for bad, our globalized inventiveness is fusing our destinies into one civilization. So together, humanity must choose wisely, and in this lifetime. Our common future is our common design challenge.”1
Copenhagen was an event. The process of change is ongoing. The trend is positive. We are entering the Post Solution Economy. We now have the tools and theories needed to make sustainable practice the norm. This issue highlights the way we make things and the way economies are changing – today.
CATALYST is an international dialogue on strategic design sponsored and published by the graduate program in Design Management at Pratt Institute of Art and Design.
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1. Berman, David B. Do Good Design. New Riders, 2009. p16.