Cents and Sustainability: Securing Our Common Future by Decoupling Economic Growth from Environmental Pressures

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`I commend the authors for this response to Our Common Future to mark its 20th anniversary. Cents and Sustainability brings together significant evidence to demonstrate that environmental and social sustainability and economic growth can reinforce each other.' From the foreword by Dr Gro Brundtland, Special Envoy on Climate Change for the UN Secretary-General, and Chair of the UN World Commission on Environment and Development (1984-1987)

`I urge all leaders and decision makers to read this book, along with Factor Five, co-authored with the team from TNEP, and to commit to decoupling economic growth from environmental pressures at the scale and speed needed to ensure we stay within the ecological limits of the planet. If decoupling is implemented rapidly, with a focus on resource productivity, as Cents and Sustainability shows, it will lead to higher economic and jobs growth, not less.' Dr Ernst Von Weizsacker, Co-Chair UNEP International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management, and co-author of Factor Five (Earthscan, 2009)

`The historical assumption that that green investment comes at a cost to the economy needs to be challenged. Cents and Sustainability offers a coherent argument and a collection of evidence to show how prudent policies, market innovation and sheer common sense can lead to green development solutions that cost less, destroy less and benefit all.' Dr Noeleen Hezyer, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, and UN Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific

`Since the Brundtland Commission report was published, we have long awaited a book that tackles the formidable analytic task of developing a framework and realistic strategy to simultaneously achieve environmental sustainability, economic and jobs growth, and poverty reduction. I hope Cent and Sustainability enjoys exceptional circulation success.' Professor Norman Myers, Green College, and External Fellow of the James Martin Institute, Oxford University

`In 1987, Our Common Future offered the prospect of decoupling as the resolution between environment and development. Cents and Sustainability offers abundant evidence that, supported by appropriate policies and institutions, the technical ability exists for us to do much, much more.' Professor Stephen Dovers, Director, Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University

`For much of my career I have sought to assist in the response to Our Common Future and have been at times dismayed by the slow progress. More recently I have seen a greater readiness to take on the sustainability agenda, but we need help on what to do, and this book enables us to focus on cost-effective solutions.' Professor Peter Newman, Professor of Sustainability, Curtin University, Board Member of Infrastructure Australia, and co-author of Sustainability and Cities and Green Urbanism Down Under

Cents and Sustainability is a clear-sighted response to the 1987 call by Dr Gro Brundtland in Our Common Future to achieve a new era of economic growth that is `forceful and at the same time socially and environmentally sustainable.'

The Brundtland Report argued that not only was it achievable, but that it was an urgent imperative in order to achieve a transition to sustainable development while significantly reducing poverty and driving `clean and green' investment.

With some still arguing for significantly slowing economic growth in order to reduce pressures on the environment, this new book, Cents and Sustainability, shows that it is possible to reconcile the need for economic growth and environmental sustainability through a strategy to decouple economic growth from environmental pressures, combined with a renewed commitment to achieve significant environmental restoration and poverty reduction. Beginning with a brief overview of some of the most pressing environmental challenges of our time, the book then explains `decoupling theory', overviews a number of factors that can undermine and even block efforts to decouple in both developed and developing countries, and then discusses a number of key considerations to assist the development of national `decoupling strategies'. The book then focuses on presenting evidence to support greater action, not just on climate change, but also on decoupling economic growth from the loss of biodiversity and the deterioration of natural systems, freshwater extraction, waste production, and air pollution

In the lead-up to the 2012 United Nations Earth Summit and beyond, Cents and Sustainability will be a crucial guide to inform and assist nations to develop strategies to significantly reduce environmental pressures, strengthen their economy, create jobs and reduce poverty

The Natural Edge Project (TNEP) is a sustainable development think-tank which operates as a collaborative partnership for research, education, and policy development on innovation for sustainable development. TNEP's mission is to contribute to and succinctly communicate leading research, case studies, tools, policy and strategies for achieving sustainable development across government, business and civil society

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About the author (2010)

Dr Michael H. Smith, a Research Fellow at the Australian National University's Fenner School of Environment and Society, is a co-founder of The Natural Edge Project (TNEP) and was the Research Director from 2002-2010, hosted in-kind by ANU. Working with the TNEP team, Michael co-authored a number of books, online education programmes and industry sustainability action plans focusing on how to operationalize sustainable development from an ecological modernisation perspective. Michael's PhD, entitled `Advancing and Resolving the Great Sustainability Debates and Discourses', demonstrated that it was possible to cost effectively achieve significant decoupling of economic growth from environmental pressures including greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity loss, freshwater withdrawal, air pollution and waste production
Karlson `Charlie' Hargroves, a co-founder and the Director of The Natural Edge Project (TNEP), is hosted in-kind as a Research Fellow at Griffith University, graduating from civil and structural engineering at the University of Adelaide, and undertaking his PhD supervised by Professor Peter Newman at Curtin University. Together with the TNEP team, he has developed a number of books, journal papers, online education programs, industry action plans, and community capacity-building programmes, working with leaders in the field across the world. In 2005 Charlie spent 12 months on secondment as the CEO of Natural Capitalism Inc, USA, with Hunter Lovins, and represents the team as an Associate Member of the Club of Rome
Cheryl Desha is the Deputy Director of the Natural Edge Project (TNEP), and a Lecturer in the School of Engineering at Griffith University, graduating from Environmental Engineering from Griffith University, then working in an international consulting engineering firm for four years, in addition to government secondments. In 2005 Cheryl was selected as the Engineers Australia Young Professional Engineer of the Year. Working with the TNEP team Cheryl has co-authored a number of books, journal papers, online education programs, industry action plans, and community capacity-building programmes. She completed her PhD in 2010 on rapid curriculum renewal towards education for sustainable development

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