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

"There is no question that sustainable development and its related issues is one of the most important agendas facing every Australian."
Paul Anderson, BHP Billiton

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


Address By the Rt. Hon. Sir Ninian Stephen
on the occasion of the launch of

“THE NATURAL ADVANTAGE OF NATIONS: Business Opportunities, Innovation and Governance in the 21st Century”

Editors - Karlson ‘Charlie’ Hargroves, Michael H. Smith

The National Business Leaders Forum for Sustainable Development,

I feel very privileged to be here launching “The Natural Advantage of Nations”. Like this forum this book is all about innovation, solutions, competitiveness and profitability and the bringing together to this end, as does this forum, leaders from business, government, academia and non-government organisations.

It has as its thesis the pursuit of sustainable development leading to economic growth and with it increased employment while solving some of our social and environmental problems. It presents a bold vision of an ecologically sustainable future, to be attained by building on the lessons of the theory of competitive advantage, proving a synthesis of what is new in the fields of sustainability, economics and innovation in business and governance. It covers significant developments in the day to day practice of sustainable development by all the organs of our society and of other societies from around the world.

What I found in reading the book was how the pursuit of sustainable development whether on a small scale in domestic organisations or on a national or international scale is no walk into the unknown. In a host of areas solutions already exist and are being implemented around the world by companies, and governments and, too, by social groupings whether trade unions, universities, schools, churches or professional bodies. All this the book provides through relevant and successful solutions already being applied and experienced first hand by the co-authors working at the very seat of change either as part of these processes of reform within significant institutions or as advisors to them.

To read this book is to speculate about possibilities; what if governments were to resolve to achieve a ninety per cent reduction of their present negative environmental impacts over the next half century, as the Netherlands is seeking to do; what if all our governments were to follow Western Australia’s example and determine to halve their ecological footprints over the next twenty years or if, like the goa 2100 project which that Indian state has adopted, every nation tackled wholeheartedly the problem of creating sustainable cities and doing so cost effectively over the next thirty years?

It is achievements of this nature and others that this book recounts and to read it is to be persuaded that, given the necessary inspiration, much is possible here in Australia, possessing as we do world-leading expertise and lacking only the immediate resolve to put it to appropriate use.

This book is, then, the giver of just such inspiration, inspiration to achieve ecologically sustainable development, at first in one’s own area of activity and ultimately Australia wide.

Our two editors, Charlie Hargroves and Michael Smith, and the other members of The Natural Edge Project Secretariat, Cheryl Paten and Nick Palousis, have been extraordinary helped in what has been a mammoth task, you have only to glance through the book to appreciate its extent, helped by so many who are named and thanked in the detailed “acknowledgement” section of the book. They have asked me to repeat their thanks for all that those named have done to make this whole work possible and on their behalf personally to thank the many of them here tonight.

Michael has suggested that in conclusion i quote to you a passage from William Murray. It is lengthy but let me read it to you. It spells out so much of what has helped create “The Natural Advantage of Nations” - It reads:

‘Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now’. (William Murray)

and with that long quote, I end it now!