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

"Hunter Lovins brings a fresh, valuable perspective to the world of business, one that is long overdue. Her passion, insights and enthusiasm will go a long way to ensure that we have a sustainable business environment for generations to come."
Dr Paul McDonald, Victoria MBA Director (NZ)

The Natural Advantage of Nations (Vol. I): Business Opportunities, Innovation and Governance in the 21st Century


Our first priority is to follow up the book, The Natural Advantage of Nations, with a solid companion guide and training program, where:

  • The companion guide will be available for readers who need assistance in working through the publication; and
  • The training program will provide teachable material that covers the key concepts of the book in a classroom format.

The Program focuses on competency development and capacity building through providing a structured system to work through the key concepts, case studies and core material related to Sustainable Development.

Session 1

Topic A - Progress, Competitiveness & Sustainability

Topic B - Risks of Inaction in Sustainable Development


The theme of the first session is that society's practices are generally not ecologically sustainable, but changing this trend can be both profitable and sustainable in the longer term. It is imperative that we turn current trends around, to achieve ‘genuine sustainable progress' and to embrace emerging sustainable solutions, methodologies and technologies. There are a number of significant barriers to this ‘turn-around' along with a range of exiting and innovative solutions, which we will discuss and work through over the week. It will be noted that there are some barriers that may not be immediately apparent, such as the mental models and assumptions of some decision makers. Often our own prejudices can prevent us from seeing new ways forward. Having the clarity of mind to ask the right questions at the right time of processes is critical to success.  

Reference: NAON Section 1 (Chapters 1, 2, 3)

Session 2

Topic C - A Dynamic ‘Platform for Change'

Topic D - Sustainable Business Practice


It is accepted that nations and businesses can do much already to move forward in the sustainability journey, with no change to existing government subsidies and incentives. However progress would be significantly faster if government incentives and framework conditions were also adjusted. This would accelerate the uptake of sustainable technologies, best available technologies and whole system design. Many governments have acknowledged that these issues are critical and are examining their incentives and frameworks, but there are still a number who believe that this should all be left to ‘the market'. This sessions program will show how, over the last 30 years in economics, a far more sophisticated understanding of markets and market failure has evolved that can be used by governments to determine when it may be appropriate to act, and how. These developments in economics are theoretical but they are critical to understand, to precede any government discussion about roles in assisting industry be more sustainable. A second objective of this session is to discuss the importance of ensuring that all relevant stakeholders are engaged and that government programs are grounded in an understanding of the needs of the sector in question. This will be critical in facilitating genuine progress towards a sustainable industrial sector.  

Reference: NAON Section 1 (Chapter 4), Section 2 (all chapters)

Session 3

Topic E - Towards a Deeper Understanding of the Role of Market & State

Topic F - Institutions & Sustainability  


Government, at all levels, has a wide range of mechanisms to assist the transition to an ecologically sustainable economy. It is vital that those in government are aware of the full range of mechanisms, as often a range of government instruments are needed to ensure real outcomes are achieved. For instance many governments currently run energy/eco- efficiency programs. But without a framework these individual initiatives will be insufficient to achieve sustainability due to issues such as rebound effects. To avoid rebound effects other government mechanisms such as ‘feebates', environmental levies, and education are needed. Session 3 will include a discussion of more advanced issues related to the critical role of government in achieving sustainability.  

Reference: NAON Section 3 (Chapters 11 and 12)

Session 4

Topic G - Achieving Sustainable Cities & Industries

Topic H - Innovation Examples – Energy Waste and Water


As technological inertia gives long lead times for a better technology to replace a lesser one, sustainability principles need to be at the heart of decision making and planning; especially for major infrastructure projects that will often have a design life of over 100 years. In the urban context, cities are home to more people than ever before and the existing and potential future negative environmental impacts are significant. It is imperative that we utilise advances in technology to our advantage, to reduce the impacts of a growing population and to provide ‘regenerative solutions' wherever possible. Rather than just delaying the inevitable significant impacts, we must look to providing infrastructure and services that add value to our natural and social assets. It is also important to realise and promote the fact that this transition can be done profitably. In this session we will look at a number of concepts and technologies that form part of the ‘sustainability revolution'. 

Reference: NAON Section 4 (all chapters)

Session 5

Topic I - Strategies for Change

Topic J - Where to From Here?

Over the previous sessions we have discussed a number of tools and concepts within the field of sustainability, to give us a platform from which to engage with each other, and with Industry. It is also imperative to understand how ‘change' takes place within groups and organizations, to make the most of opportunities presented and to avoid ‘banging heads against brick walls'. The final session is an opportunity for participants using the knowledge that they have obtained during the week, to consider how they might improve their ‘change agent' skills. We will look at a number of inspiring case studies where organisations and communities have made significant steps in their sustainability journey and we will discuss how this was achieved.

 Reference: NAON Section 5 (all chapters)