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

"I found NAON to be a encyclopedia on Sustainability and ideal for manufacturers that can not afford a Sustainability Expert... the book is a great way to learn and/or review all the key concepts and programs that are moving the world of Sustainability. It is a guide on how to position your company to profit or at least not lose out in this new world of manufacturing."
Marvin Klein, PortionPac Chemical Corporation

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


Section 3: Achieving a Natural Advantage of Nations

The Fremantle Declaration: 'Passing the Torch to the Regions'
The Western Australia State Sustainability Strategy: is change happening?
Process for developing the strategy
Public engagement
The policy change process
What have we learned?

The Network of Regional Government for Sustainable Development


This chapter was written by Professor Peter Newman based on his experience having recently developed a comprehensive government sustainability strategy, covering 42 areas of the Government of Western Australia. Professor Newman is Professor of City Policy and Director of the Institute for Sustainability and Technology Policy (ISTP) at Murdoch University. The ISTP is now the largest such body in Australia, with 70 PhD students, 150 undergraduates, and 100 Masters students, all studying for degrees in sustainable development. Peter also has recently become Sustainability Commissioner for the state of New South Wales, Australia.

Charlie Hargroves and Professor Peter Newman, Director of the

Institute for Sustainability & Technology Policy, Murdoch University.

Chair of the Western Australia Sustainability Roundtable,

and Sustainability Commissioner of New South Wales.

Related papers from Proffesor Peter Newman

Sub-national government is critical to achieving sustainable development, not only as an important mechanism for managing local clusters to help drive eco-innovation this century. Whilst the achievements of Local Agenda 21 are well known, and the network of National Councils for Sustainable Development (NCSDs) has over 70 national members globally, the achievements globally of state governments have been much less well reported. Yet for countries like China, the US and India, with such large populations, or countries like Australia that cover such large areas of the planet, state/regional governments are a key level of government that will play a major role in whether or not we make the shift to a sustainable future. And given that the directions taken by China, the US and India will be critical to whether we make overall progress globally towards sustainable genuine progress, the critical role of regional/state governments in those countries, and hence around the world, cannot be overstated.

In addition, state governments, responsible often for managing energy and water utilities, cities and surrounding regions, are therefore critical to operationalizing Sustainable Genuine Progress this century. The lack of recognition of the importance of regional/state government level to sustainable development, the lack of an international Agenda 21 regional government network, goes a long way to explaining the lack of progress since the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.


The Network of Regional Government for Sustainable Development

The Network of Regional Government for Sustainable Development (nrg4SD) is comprised of increasing numbers of state/regional/sub-national governments from around the world, some of who already have comprehensive sustainability strategies. The nrg4SD began at the World Summit for Sustainable Development in 2002, and now holds conferences every six months that are hosted by state governments around the world.

View website



Western Australian State Sustainability Strategy

The first government in Australia to develop a truly integrated whole of government partnership driven approach to sustainable development is the Western Australian (WA) Government. This arose partly from business demands for clear frameworks within which to operate. Government of Western Australia (2003), Hope for the future: The Western Australian State Sustainability Strategy, Department of the Premier and Cabinet, Perth.

Download PDF | View website

Related Papers from Proffesor Peter Newman

The City and the Bush - Partnerships to Reverse the Population Decline in Australia’s Grainbelt
Major trends that are draining people from the grainbelt are globalisation of the economy (and its associated global urban culture) and coastalisation based on lifestyle preferences. A focus on grainbelt towns in partnership with the adjacent global city is needed to reverse the decline. It will require a new quality of life attraction similar to that drawing people to the coast, a stronger sense of place and greater social diversity. It will also require tapping of new global city sustainability obligations through partnerships between the city and its bioregion on issues of biodiversity, new bioindustries and new water regimes and clear planning to contain sprawl in the city and coasts. Hope for rejuvenation can be provided through the example of inner city areas, which suffered similar problems of decline and reversed them over a thirty year period.

Sustainability- The New Opportunity
Sustainability is a different way of thinking that is changing each profession, government and business. It started in the 1980’s by reminding business that there was a triple bottom line (TBL). This meant that environment and community issues needed to be taken seriously as well as the financial bottom line. For those companies who took their environmental responsibilities seriously some of the magic of sustainability began to occur. I saw this when I was a member of the EPA in Perth. I found that poorly considered proposals generally were not just environmentally hazardous, but usually reflected second-rate technology and poor profitability.

The Sustainability Journey at Murdoch University
Murdoch University was established in the early 1970s in order to address contemporary issues directly rather than through traditional disciplines (Bolton, 1984). This is an ideal structure to address sustainability and thus it should not be a surprise to find Murdoch has developed a sustainability niche among the largest in the university world. The story of its development reflects the broader global sustainability story and will be outlined from a personal perspective.

Sustainability: the new grand narrative
Sustainable development was first mentioned by the International Union for Conservation of Nature when they created The World Conservation Strategy: Living Resource Conservation for Sustainable Development in 1980. It came from an ecological perspective on managing natural resources for the long term rather than seeing them as an economic resource for short term exploitation. This ecological perspective had been extended by a number of ecologists like Ian McHarg and Paul Ehrlich into a broader world view where human society and economy were largely regarded as a ‘cancer’ spreading out of control. Human activity had to be curtailed and regulated thus giving rise to the environmental movement, to pollution control, environmental impact assessment and the setting aside of natural areas with as little control by humans as possible.

Trains, Busses and Cars: Planning for a sustainable future in Australian cities.
The Perth Train Story: Twenty five years ago the Coalition Government of Sir Charles Court in Western Australia closed down the Fremantle railway line. The stated rationale was that buses would do the job better as they were cheaper and more flexible. In reality they wanted to build a freeway down part of the rail reserve. For the transport planners trains were a symbol of the old economy and WA was going for the car in a big way, with buses to pick up those few who couldn’t manage a car, and with freeways to service the rapidly sprawling suburbs. The land use assumptions were part of their package – the idea that Australian cities would turn back in and redevelop around the train system was not imaginable.

The Participative Route to Sustainability, By Janette Hartz Karp and Peter Newman
The complex, contentious, apparently overwhelmingly difficult problems we face on the environmental, social and economic fronts, cannot be resolved by doing nothing or even by doing as we have done in the past. Simply coining and propagating the term “sustainability” has been a start. It has reframed the issues (Lakoff, 2004) in a worldview that enables us ‘see’ the future in a different way: “Meeting the needs of current and future generations through an integration of environmental protection, social advancement and economic prosperity”. The question is how can we change the trajectory we are currently on? Government regulation may help, but will not be sufficient. We will need the hearts and minds of civic society. To achieve this will also require a change in worldview and hence direction.

Regional Sustainability: Principles and Practices with a case study on Western Australia
Sustainability is applied to regional governments through applying four principles: visionary, interdisciplinary synergies, geographical synergies and sectoral synergies. These are then used as the basis of a case study applied in Western Australia which is the first regional state in the world to produce a Sustainability Strategy.


References from the Book

1 Their second meeting was held in San Sebastian, Spain, in April 2003, with their third conference in Fremantle, Perth, Western Australia, in September 2003. The fourth conference was held in Cardiff, Wales, in March 2004.

2 OECD (2002b) Governance for Sustainable Development: Five OECD Case Studies, OECD, Paris.

3 Key Note Opening Address, Governance for Regional Sustainability: The WA Approach, Third Conference of the Network of Regional Governments for Sustainable Development, University of Notre Dame, Fremantle, Western Australia, 2003.

4 OECD (2003) Improving Policy Coherence and Integration for Sustainable Development: A Checklist, OECD, Paris.

5 WBCSD (1997) Exploring Sustainable Development: Global Scenarios 2000–2050, WBCSD, London.

6 Newman, P. and Kenworthy, J. (1999) Sustainability and Cities, Island Press, Washington, DC.

7 Roseland, M. (1998) Toward Sustainable Communities, New Society Publishers, Gabriola Island, BC, Canada; Suter, K. (1995) Global Agenda, Albatross, Sydney.

8 The Network of Regional Government for Sustainable Development, nrg4SD, was set up at the WSSD in Johannesburg in 2002 but nations and local governments first began addressing sustainable development at the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992.

9 Healey, P. (1999) ‘Sites, Jobs and Portfolios: Economic Development and the Planning System’, Policy and Politics, vol 18, no 1, pp91–103.

10 Armstrong, R. and Head, G. (2002) ‘Liveable Neighbourhoods: Guiding New Development for a More Sustainable Urban Future’, in Armstrong, R., Ruane, S. and Newman, P. (eds) (2002) Case Studies in Sustainability: Hope for the Future in Western Australia, ISTP Publications, Perth.