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

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The Natural Advantage of Nations (Vol. II): Exceeding the

Millennium Goals through Sustainable Development

The development of this publication is scheduled for 2009.

Overview of the Project

The Natural Edge Project (TNEP) proposes to develop an informative and practical book entitled ‘ The Natural Advantage of Nations (Volume II) – Exceeding the Millennium Goals through Sustainable Development' supported by an online companion database. The Book and Online Companion will highlight proven options and future opportunities to achieve the millennium development goals and sustainability globally. The work will build on from 'The Natural Advantage of Nations (Volume I) – Business Opportunities, Innovation and Governance in the 21 st Century' and examine key development and sustainability issues in developing and emerging economies and detail effective ways to move forward.

This exciting field of work has the potential to unlock the brainpower of over 2 million people previously excluded from contributing to global solutions through improving the quality of life in developing countries as raised in the book Factor Four. This book will also build on from Jeffrey Sachs “The End of Poverty” publication by bringing together the emerging success stories and methodologies that are contributing to the reduction of poverty around the world.

The central goals of the book will be to demonstrate how:

•  through the latest sustainable development strategies in business practice, industrial processes and policy development it is not only possible to exceed the millennium development goals but to ensure that they have a lasting legacy;
•  Natural Advantage will assist countries making the transition from being reliant on liquidating natural resources and low-cost labour to knowledge and value added industry based economies;
•  the major threats to the millennium goals namely conflict, world economic recession, corruption, lack of trade opportunities and lack of co-ordination of current aid programs can be overcome;
•  successful strategies sustainable development applied with local capacity building can greatly assist in rebuilding tsunami affected areas and post conflict economies like Afghanistan and Iraq;
•  developing countries can ‘multiply the use of scarce capital' through efficiency and sustainability based programs reducing capital invested in outdated infrastructure and processes;
•  such technologies and approaches in sustainable development are also key to unlocking new sources of economic growth in OECD countries.

Ending world poverty and reducing global inequality by definition requires a global effort. This work will have broad interest because it seeks to provide options for rapidly emerging and growing economies like India and China to choose to approach poverty reduction, development and economic growth. How these countries choose to approach these challenges will have significant global implications. China already imports more resources of every commodity than any country except the US .

In response to such global challenges, a number of the major banks responsible for 75 percent of loans to the developing world have recently signed onto the Equator Principles, injecting environmental and social criteria into the selection of development loans. The strength of the first book The Natural Advantage of Nations (Volume I) is that the rigorous frameworks apply to any country. The Natural Advantage of Nations (Volume II) will build on the first publication, so that while the focus of the case studies will be developing and emerging economies, the frameworks, principles and strategies will still be relevant for all countries.

The activities of TNEP are not for profit and draw on mentoring and expertise from a diverse range of partners including many bodies relevant to this publication such as Engineers Australia, CSIRO, Engineers Without Borders, the On the Frontier Group, and the UN Centre for Technology Transfer, Natural Capitalism Inc, and Rocky Mountain Institute. The development of the publication, like the first volume, will be made possible through donations and grants that will be used to build the book and a companion online database to support it. We hope that you will find this brief of interest and consider making a financial contribution, research contribution, peer review and mentoring in its development.


Goals of the Project

As stated above, the first goal of this book is to show how through the latest and best strategies for sustainable development it is possible to exceed the millennium development goals by 2015 and to ensure that they have a lasting legacy. The causes of poverty are multi-faceted. Fundamentally the lack of investments needed to overcome the root causes – drugs and public health measures for AIDS and malaria, rehabilitating depleted soils, schools and roads and so on – are small by global standards but well beyond the resources of those in extreme poverty. Therefore it is vital that investments and aid is targeted to ensure maximum affect. So secondly, the book aims to overview and learn from the latest best frameworks, outcomes and results from United Nations/Development Aid/ Sustainable Livelihood programs plus indigenous efforts.

Thirdly, the book will show how the major threats to the millennium goals namely conflict, world economic recession, corruption, lack of co-ordination and effectiveness of current aid programs can be overcome. Fourthly, the book will demonstrate how the emerging successful strategies for sustainable development can help post-conflict and post tsunami affected states, developing and emerging economies grow successfully. Fifth, there is need for such a book to support the recent commitment from the global banks committed to the Equator Principles (a set of sustainable development principles). There is a great need then for an authoritative resource and online companion to help better inform this new opportunity. Sixth, we live in a world where government, business and civil society all have real power. Decisions made regarding the availability and costs of much needed medicines mean the difference between life and death. Therefore we need new models to show how these three actors can better achieve and exceed the millennium goals. Our first book brought together many of the pieces of the puzzle, but there are more.

Finally, this work will examine how wise sustainable development strategies have been shown to also be key to OECD countries trying to find new sources of economic growth which will further assist economic growth and poverty reduction in developing countries. Through making these points the book will seek to rally new funding to these more successful approaches. When countries like the US spend as much on pornography as on aid, it is clear that the world can afford significantly more aid funding.. Australians waste more than $10 billion a year on products and services they do not use, according to a recent report. The Australia Institute study found Australians waste 13 times more money on unused food than the nation gives in foreign aid. The Natural Advantage of Nations (Volume II) will provide a succinct, but authoritative resource for organisations working with and in developing nations.

Objectives of the Project

The project will;

•  develop an effective and simple publication to help businesses, government and civil society see their potential to assist to reduce poverty and create opportunity globally in post conflict states, developing and emerging economies globally, and
•  provide a complementary web site containing in-depth information to support the book and to link readers to the achievements of businesses, engineers, universities, in helping to achieve poverty reduction globally.

TNEP will build on its existing formal partnerships including Michael Fairbanks' On the Frontier group that has worked in over 33 developing countries, Hunter Lovins and Natural Capitalism Inc that are currently working in Afghanistan, Bernard Amedei and Engineers Without Borders (US) (currently leading the US engineering response to the Tsunami), the United Nations Centre for Technology Transfer in Japan, the International Business Leaders Forum, Forum for the Future and the Australian based industry research leader CSIRO.

TNEP also partners formally with a range of international groups and organisations including the World Federation of Engineering Organisations, Japan for Sustainability, Asia-Pacific Forum for Environment and Development, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies ( Japan ), Ritsumeikan University , and Friends of the Earth (HK). And in April 2005 TNEP team member Charlie Hargroves attended the International Dialogue on ‘Providing Leadership for Sustainable Development', held in Beijing , China along with team mentor Mark Diesendorf.. TNEP would seek for this book to formally involve representatives from such organisations and to be formally endorsed and promoted to their members.


Australia is currently one of a handful of countries, other than dictatorships, that has not formally committed to the Millennium Goals. There is a great need to raise awareness in Australia of this important global initiative and to demonstrate that supporting it is worth Australia 's commitment and effort. Recently in Australia there has been a significant outpouring of support for victims of the Tsunami. Many countries such as Australia consider themselves generous countries however over the last couple of decades there has been a growing level of cynicism about:

•  levels of corruption in the developing world and its perverse and insidious effect on poverty reduction efforts; and

•  the amount of money that aid organisations use for their own operations reducing the amount of aid money actually reaching those who need it most, the poor.

This book will highlight where in the world these another other barriers to poverty reduction have succeeded, and the lessons learnt. Moreover, this book will provide solutions from a sustainable development perspective, in addition to those covered in books like Jeffrey Sachs' (Chair of the UN Millennium Goals committee) recently published “The End of Poverty”.


The project will at all times work to ensure that all partnering organisations are ethical and focused on ‘walking the talk'; seeking to ensure maximum involvement and consultation with partners to ensure a collaborative approach to the development of the publication.

As stated above already the project has strong involvement and formal support from significant bodies and co-authors such as Hunter Lovins (co-author of the seminal works Factor 4: Doubling Your Wealth and Halving Your Resource Usage , Natural Capitalism: The Next Industrial Revolution ) , and Michael Fairbanks (co-author of Plowing the Sea: Nurturing the Hidden Sources of Growth in the Developing World).

The book and web site will be edited by The Natural Edge Project led by Charlie Hargroves and Michael Smith (editors and co-authors of Natural Advantage of Nations: Business Opportunities, Innovation and Governance in the 21 st Century ), Cheryl Paten, Lecturer in Environmental Engineering at Griffith University and Nick Palousis, TNEP Operations Officer. TNEP will build on from its existing networks to bring still more mentors onto its advisory and steering committees to guide this project.

TNEP will seek to partner with other relevant organisations so that the book truly is a global network and consensus building process that lays a foundation for the implementation of the books ideas. The publication will involve inviting additional groups to consider both joining the project and contributing to it, either financially, in kind, or by peer review of content. We feel that this is important and truly promotes a global approach to the project.

TNEP is very conscious that the process is equally as important as, if not more important than, the product, and consider that our strength as a secretariat lies in our ability and capacity to act as a central driving force to bring together various sustainability-focused works and activities. The networks and connections formed through this project have already been used to publicise and support additional projects by making use of project partners' existing communication and publicity infrastructures. This project is collaborative, exciting, and uplifting. It is the progressive ethical businesses' natural edge to be involved in the same way business has stepped up to be involved with the Tsunami relief at the beginning of 2005.

This will not just be a book of nice ideas - rather the book will be undertaken with co-authors and projects that are already succeeding on the ground. There is nothing that convinces people faster than success stories. The book will start with profound success studies such as the example of the successful Solar Barefoot engineering project in North East India. Stories connect with people and are essential for this book to reach more than the traditional aid and development audiences. Stories like these will be used throughout the book to make points thus making this book accessible to as wide an audience as possible.

Sample Content Map

Preface from the Authors
Acknowledgements and Endorsements
Introduction: Possible Scenario’s for the Future: UN Millennium Assessment

Chapter 1: The Millennium Goals: It is possible to end poverty?
Chapter 2: Risks of Inaction: Possible Scenarios for the Future
Chapter 3: Asking The Right Questions
Chapter 4: Windows of Opportunity: New Framework for international development
Chapter 5: Thinking Locally, Acting Globally

Chapter 6: Putting the Framework into Practice
Chapter 7: Opportunities through technology transfer
Chapter 8: Rebuilding Tsunami Affected Countries
Chapter 9: Post Conflict States
Chapter 10: Discussion of tool

Chapter 11: How do we prevent the conflicts of the future today
Chapter 12: Sustaining quality economic growth.
Chapter 13: Increasing Prosperity and Jobs whilst saving the environment
Chapter 14: Success stories of overcoming corruption.
Chapter 15: Opportunities for government to assist through technology transfer

Chapter 16: Rapid Urbanisation: Challenges and Opportunities for Poverty Reduction
Chapter 17: Ensuring national and local synergies.
Chapter 18: Meeting global energy and water needs through Demand Management
Chapter 19: Meeting global resource needs: Closing the Loop
Chapter 20: Minerals and Metal
Chapter 21: Greening of Industry and Manufacturing
Chapter 22: Sustainable Agriculture
Chapter 23: Tragedy of the Commons Global Fisheries
Chapter 24: Education and Capacity Building

Chapter 25: The importance of nations supporting effective international efforts.
Chapter 26: Environment and Trade
Chapter 27: Models for Global Institutions to incorporate, ESD