The Natural Edge Project The Natural Advantage of Nations Whole System Design Factor 5 Cents and Sustainability Higher Education and Sustainable Development

"Working with our Natural Project Edge collaborators I think shows great promise, these are very diligent and well informed people that I think are doing valuable work and we are looking forward to cooperating with them in ways that will help us all to learn faster and get more done better."
Amory Lovins, Co-Author of 'Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution', CEO Rocky Mountain Institute

Frequently Asked Questions of NAON Vol. I

Charlie signing books as part of the 2005 Hunter Lovins tour.

What is the book about?

Why the Title?

How has it come together?

What is the purpose of the book?

What is the need for this book?

How does this book build on from others like it?

What is the Shelf-life of the book?

What university courses is the boolk relevant for?


What is the book about?

This book, The Natural Advantage of Nations, is about innovation, solutions, competitiveness and profitability. It is also about building environmental integrity and sustainability now and for future generations.

The Natural Advantage of Nations pulls together for the first time the work of more than 30 of the world’s leaders in sustainability, containing fresh evidence from around the globe, to show that, far from being in conflict with economics and business practice, the drive for a sustainable world is both an environmental imperative and a practical and profitable necessity that is already happening. This book draws a bold vision for the future and tells us how to get there by building on the lessons of competitive advantage theory and the latest in sustainability, economics, innovation, business and governance theory and practise.

This is top-drawer reading for business people, economists, engineers, consultants, policy-makers, researchers, students and indeed anyone working to create a better world. The authors incorporate innovative technical, structural and social advances, and explore the role that governance can play in both leading and underpinning business nd communities in the shift towards a sustainable future. The resulting vision is one in which business, government and civil society all have power, and each plays its part in forging a sustainable future.

Coupled with a companion website, this book covers the breadth and depth of the usiness case for sustainability, and moves it forward. The result is nothing less than the most authoritative and comprehensive guide to building the new sustainable economy.


Preface Introduction Section I: The Need for a New Paradigm • Section II: Natural Advantage: A Business Imperative • Section III: Achieving a Natural Advantage of Nations • Section IV: Sustainable Cities: The Challenge of the 21st Century • Section V: A National Collaborative Approach: The Bigger Picture - Building Resilience • Bibliography, Index.


Why the Title?

The title, The Natural Advantage of Nations, is deliberately chosen as it builds on from Professor Michael Porter’s work in The Competitive Advantage of Nations in 1990, now in its 11th printing, having taken its name from Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, and brings in the important developments in economics, business, innovation and governance for sustainability over the last 30 – 50 years.

The title also links with a major project in Australia called Natural Advantage: Blueprint for a Sustainable Australia. This is an online Agenda 21 Blueprint for Australia developed by the Australian Conservation Foundation. Members of the TNEP secretariat were involved in the development of the database for this publication.


How has it come together?

The publication has been compiled and edited by lead authors Karlson ‘Charlie’ Hargroves and Michael H. Smith with initial support from James Bradfield Moody. The project has received support and contributions form over 70 high profile supporters, over 30 eminent co-authors and contributors, an active volunteer working group and an editorial review panel including Hunter Lovins. The publication is also supported by an advisory board and a steering committee representing our partners and invited guests. All royalty payments will be used to support the ongoing activities of the project to enable the development of further initiatives.

For the first time we have a source book and web site for both the professional and the layperson, simply and clearly written, that has been peer reviewed by major international professional bodies, research institutions, companies and government agencies. The book and companion web site are a significant resource and will have something for everyone.


What is the purpose of the book?

The purpose of the book is (1) to present a well grounded and peer reviewed blueprint for a nation to move towards a sustainable economy, (2) to inspire and demonstrate how business, government and civil society, and other peak bodies can take integrated approaches to make genuine progress, (3) to show how through such integrated approaches much of Agenda 21 could be put into practise, and (4) to move hearts and minds, to inspire and enable students, practitioners, public servants, managers, and professionals to help them make substantial progress toward sustainability.


What is the need for this book?

Europe has Factor 4, and the United States has Natural Capitalism and Cradle to Cradle, both published over two years ago and receiving increasing mainstream recognition. This project compliments this work by offering to update the cases and emerging frameworks in partnership with the authors of these works, and also by bringing in Australasian case studies and information about best practice.

The need for an operational Factor 4/Natural Capitalism/Good News for a Change style book from our region of the globe is widely recognised. In addition, there is a need to undertake the necessary work to combine the lessons of Professor Michael Porter’s Competitive Advantage of Nations with the sustainability paradigm, and explore the important developments in economics over the last 30 – 50 years, such as the maturing of the field of economics of information.

This book will focus on application to OECD countries, and future initiatives will be aimed at making the material relevant to the developing world.

The focus of this initiative is not only potentially a seminal book, a truly world changing book, it has become more than that, because, as part of the process of pulling together the people whose ideas they wanted in the book, they have pulled together a whole movement. They have done in Australia what has been done no where else in the world, which is to get all these disparate people who are the leading thinkers in their field to start to talk together, to start to work co-operatively.

They have brought together government, business, activists, academics, all of the parties who need to be part of this conversation, this project should not stop when the book is published, the publication of the book should only be the beginning of the creation in Australia of the sort of organization that the whole world needs, that ever country needs, that every region needs. Which is, the best minds, the people who understand that we do not have a lot of time, that we are facing very serious problems, but that there are answers. And each of them has a piece of the answer but not the whole. But that they want to work together, with the other pieces, to try to form the whole, while there is time, while we have the resources and have the opportunities, before the situation gets really grave … before we start behaving in a crisis management mode.

So that we can craft the kind of future that we would like to be a part of, this is the opportunity of the Natural Advantage of Nations, it is much much more than just a book, and it is a very important project.”

Hunter Lovins, May 2003. Co-author of Natural Capitalism and Factor 4

What were the main reasons the book was written?

The publication has been developed to take ten important steps towards the development of a sustainable society:

1. Show that we can in fact achieve a sustainable economy this century.

The book will address a lack of belief, faith, and optimism that we have the capability to tackle and solve significant problems, by presenting the best practice in research and showing its application in co-operation with the peak bodies and companies.

2. Illustrating that no longer is ignorance of the environmental affects the problem, but rather ignorance about the wealth of solutions and the proven models of success now available is the problem.

There are literally thousands of success stories, significant developments like The Dutch Government’s Sustainable Development Technology Project, the Western Australian State Sustainability Strategy, and the emergence of hundreds of networks working toward sustainable development.

3. Overcoming the perceived cost barrier.

Thirty years of cost–benefit analysis worldwide has shown that, far from costing more, whole system design, and smart environmental management makes money. Eco-innovation and design for sustainability also offers many new, exciting cost-effective possibilities.

4. Demonstrate that an individual can make a difference.

The book will highlight inspiring examples of how individuals, through networks within the sector they work in or their communities, are achieving significant and constructive change.

5. Changing mindsets, as ‘problems cannot be solved within the mindset that created them’.

In keeping with Einstein’s aphorism, the book will provide practical examples of how stepping out of the box can save/earn significant dollars, also giving means of transforming environmental education.

6. Enhancing and developing political will.

TNEP is formally partnering with many of the other major Sustainable Development projects, involving government departments and agencies and will explore the role of the state in the market.

7. Demonstrating rewards for corporate bodies for “doing the right thing”.

Eco-labelling is now taking off in Europe. Such initiatives provide relatively ethical businesses with recognition for their efforts that ultimately alters buying preferences in their favour.

8. Highlighting and promoting technology transfer.

We will be working in partnership with the leaders in this area throughout the Asian Region.

9. Highlighting the need for sustainable institutions within government.

There is a need to coordinate sustainability partnerships, ensure longevity and continuity of programs, and maintain corporate knowledge.

10. Promoting real reform of the education system.

The book will examine how universities and school sectors have achieved reform.


How does this book build on from others like it?

The secretariat for the project and many of the contributors and co-authors of the publication have been influenced by a number of amazing works in this area, and it is our intention to enhance this work and bring in new aspects to strengthen the arguments and case studies. This book seeks to build on from this ground breaking work and through a whole of society approach the project has invited and received contributions and involvement from the authors of such books.

Natural Capitalism – The Next Industrial Revolution (purchase)

This book aims to build upon the concepts that were created in Natural Capitalism, but will add both a national dimension and place in it a rigorous economic context. The authors of Natural Capitalism support this book as a next step in the evolution of the ideas they presented.

I am particularly pleased with the new book, Natural Advantage of Nations, that which will in effect, follow on Natural Capitalism, and bring in newer evidence from around the world. We have learned a lot of lessons since Natural Capitalism came out in 1999 that I think will make the next explications of this subject even more powerful and effective.

Amory Lovins, CEO, Rocky Mountain Institute

The project is a serious attempt to operationalise the principles of Natural Capitalism, the Hannover Principles, the CERES Principles, etc., and has received strong support from many significant groups, bodies and institutions interested in operationalising Natural Capitalism principles.


Factor 4 – Doubling Wealth and Halving Resource Use (purchase)

Our book builds on from where Factor 4 left off. We are working with Amory and Hunter as mentioned, and also have contributions from the Wuppertal Institute from the Factor 4 Desk Coordinator Dr Raimund Bleishwitz.

Near the end of Factor 4 the authors wrote,

We do believe that the efficiency revolution is to a large extent profitable for a country. It (will) provide competitive advantage to those countries pioneering it. And for the other countries it would be dangerous to miss the boat. We also (demonstrated) that some elements of the efficiency revolution are profitable now at the company level. But we emphasised that the state can do much to expand dramatically the range of profitability for both producers and consumers. And that for the foreseeable conditions, of added stress on limited resources and on the environment, the profitability of efficiency is bound to increase further.

Factor 4: Doubling Wealth and Halving Resource Usage


Good News for a Change – Hope for a troubled planet (purchase)

This book will aim to build on from case studies, as in Good News for a Change, and integrate them into a philosophy and methodology which will drive innovation in the future. It will explain “what it all means” and “why it will continue to grow” for the readers of this book.

I think it's a great project and wish it every success.

David Suzuki

In Good News for a Change, David Suzuki makes the point that the lessons of books such as Natural Capitalism and Cradle to Cradle are not being implemented fast enough; that we are not seeing systemic change towards sustainable development. This book will seek to answer why this is the case and how this can be changed?

The Competitive Advantage of Nations (purchase)

Michael Porter’s book gave tangible examples of how nations (and firms) could achieve competitiveness in a changing world. This book will integrate the concepts presented in Porter’s work with the paradigm of sustainability and resource productivity. Effectively integrating these areas and relating their significant work to both environmental problems and also the underlying assumptions of our institutions. This book will attempt to do this.


Cradle to Cradle - Remaking the way we make things (purchase)

William McDonough and Michael Braungart's book details the need for eco-efficient design for sustainability and many of these themes and ideas are reinforced and built upon in the publication with mentoring from Bill and his team.

The Natural Advantage of Nations… shows that what many people saw as impossible just 15 years ago is now already happening. Within these pages you will see that there is reason for robust hope, and as you read, we hope you will be inspired to contribute to this magnificent re-evolution of human enterprise, a moment in our history when the things we make and build and grow can become a truly regenerative force.'

William McDonough, Principle and Founder of William McDonough and Partners


What is the Shelf-life of the book?

The book aims to have a shelf life of over ten years, in the same way that Michael Porter’s Competitive Advantage of Nations has remained current and is an essential part of any reading on competitive advantage; this book will continue to be a guide towards sustainable development over the next decade. The project seeks to become involved in the UN Decade of Education in Sustainable Development through further content development in this topic.

The publication will be supported by a series of introductory level education modules based on the structure and content in the book, and this will enable readers to take the next steps to learn the material after reading the overview in the book.

To further support this, it is intended that a second edition be developed over the next 3 – 5 years to present substantial case studies of countries and companies implementing the lessons, tools and recommendations in the first edition.

Further to this, as the publication is an overview of best practice in a large number of professions, fields and areas, there is strong potential to undertake the development of further publications with the projects supporters and co-authors based on sections in the overview publication allowing us to go into more detail on the particular topic.


What University courses is the book relevant for?

The book is an ideal text for Engineering, Science, Planning, Business and Environmental Studies courses. It is a significant educational resource for both undergraduate and postgraduate courses in economics, business, innovation, urban planning, geography, policy development, globalisation, and tripartite world.

The book is designed to be self-explanatory and user friendly and has a comprehensive table of contents, index, notes and reference list. Whilst written clearly for the layperson it is also academically extremely rigorous with over 1500 notes and references. In addition there are over 150 freely downloadable references on the book's companion web site. Therefore this book will be a significant asset to any student, teacher or researcher saving one and all literally years of time and research.

The Earthscan web site provides a link to where lecturers and academics can order a complimentary review copy to assess applicability for their courses. Reviewers so far have commented that this book and companion web site will be one of the key sustainable development resources for the next decade.

Apply for an Academic Review Copy from Earthscan!