[Scpg] The Blue Economy, Foreword by Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary and UNEP Executive Director

Margie Bushman, Coordinator, SBCC Center for Sustainability sbpcnet at silcom.com
Sat Apr 3 17:53:22 PDT 2010

The Blue Economy, by Gunter Pauli
Foreword Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary and UNEP Executive Director

The ideas you are about to encounter are among the most tantalizing 
prospects for realizing a low carbon, resource-efficient economy in 
the 21st century. It is remarkable that perhaps some of the greatest 
opportunities for sustainable jobs will come from replicating the 
efficient, zero-waste operation of ecosystems.

The natural world, in all its splendor and diversity, has already 
solved many of the sustainability challenges facing humanity in 
ingenious, unexpected, and even counter-intuitive ways. If humans 
could only unravel the fascinating chemistry, processes, structures, 
and designs that organisms -- from bacteria and mollusks to reptiles 
and mammals --have evolved and tested over millennia, perhaps then we 
would have new and transformational solutions to the many challenges 
faced by a planet of six billion people, rising to over nine billion by 2050.

Gunter Pauli's book, The Blue Economy, opens the door to this fresh, 
forward-looking field. The pioneering advances it profiles will 
quickly persuade business and government leaders to explore and 
develop the cutting-edge sciences at the foundation of these new 
developments. It
highlights the innovative work of many, including Emile Ishida 
(Japan), Wilhelm Barthlott (Germany), Andrew Parker (UK), Joanna 
Aizenberg (Russia/USA), Jorge Alberto Vieira Costa (Brazil), and 
other front-line scientists who refused to accept either the 
conventional wisdom or the status quo. In featuring their work, The 
Blue Economy demonstrates that we can find ways of utilizing physics, 
chemistry, and biology just as ecosystems do with renewable materials 
and sustainable practices. This is no longer the realm of 
science-fiction; it is actually happening here and now. With 
appropriate policies to support research and development, and 
promotional strategies that accomplish their delivery through market 
mechanisms, such materials and methods offer abundant opportunities 
for accelerating their adaptation to address pressing global issues.

In turn, widespread adoption of the framework proposed in The Blue 
Economy can provide a solid rationale for implementing the agenda of 
the Convention on Biological Diversity and the missions of 
organizations like UNEP and IUCN. Currently, species are being lost 
at an unprecedented rate. Many scientists believe that the world is 
now undergoing the sixth wave of extinctions, primarily caused by 
economic models and human behavior that undervalue the contributions 
of species, habitats, and ecosystems to our lives and the planet's 
life support systems.

These species within ecosystems underpin our mega-trillion dollar 
economy by providingb essential services at the local, regional, and 
global level. Many ecosystem species and processes hold clues for 
potentially significant achievements in production of medicine, food 
crops, biofuels, and low-energy materials. These could prove to be 
essential for societal measures to mitigate or adapt to climate 
change. Such achievements will certainly be needed to catalyze new 
sustainable businesses and industries to provide decent, sustainable jobs.

For the 100 innovations  it describes, The Blue Economy estimates 
this employment potential to be on the order of 100 million jobs. The 
plausibility of this estimate is enhanced by the fact that there are 
today more people employed in renewable energies than in the oil and 
gas industries combined, and that investment in wind, solar, and 
geothermal power generation exceeds investment in new fossil fuel 
power plants. Consider a water-collecting system modeled after that 
of the Namib Desert beetle.

By 2025, the United Nations forecasts that 1.8 billion people will be 
living in countries or regions suffering from water scarcity. Two 
thirds of the world's population could be living with conditions of 
water stress. Meanwhile, climate change is expected to aggravate 
water problems via more extreme weather events. The Namib beetle 
lives in a location that receives a mere half inch of rain a year, 
yet it can harvest water from fogs that blow in gales across the land 
several mornings each month.

Researchers have recently designed a surface that is inspired by the 
water-attracting bumps and water-shedding valleys of scales on the 
beetle's wings. These scales allow the insect to collect and funnel 
water droplets thinner than a human hair. Trials have been conducted 
using beetle film to capture water vapor from cooling towers. Initial 
tests have shown that this invention can recover 10% of the water 
lost. This lowers energy bills for nearby buildings by reducing the 
heat island effect. An estimated 50,000 new water-cooling towers are 
erected annually and each large system loses over 500 million liters 
of water per day. Other researchers are adapting the beetle water 
collection system to develop tents that collect their own water as 
well as surfaces that will mix reagents for "lab-on-a-chip" 
applications. Twenty people are employed on this fledgling 
development but the true world-wide potential might be as many as 
100,000 new jobs.

The Blue Economy cites a project in Benin where a novel farming and 
food-processing systememulates the way an ecosystem "cascades" 
nutrients. Animal wastes from the slaughterhouse are processed in a 
maggot farm to feed fish and quails; biogas provides electricity and 
plants purify water. The project is a microcosm of the Blue Economy. 
For the same Dollar, Euro, Rupee, or Yuan it generates, it produces 
income, livelihoods, and food security while recycling and reusing 
wastes. To date 250 people are employed. There is a potential of 5 
million jobs if this cascading model were used in every African abattoir.

It has been nearly 70 years since Swiss engineer George de Mestral, 
after examining the natural hooks on the burdock seeds that 
stubbornly attached to his clothes while on a countryside stroll, 
came up with an invention we know as Velcro.
More recently, buildings such as a shopping centre in Zimbabwe, a 
hospital in Colombia, a school in Sweden, and the Zoological Society 
of London are cooled by structures inspired by termite mounds. 
Meanwhile, engineering schools around the world are racing to devel

op far more efficient solar power based on the molecules and 
processes of photosynthesis. What The Blue Economy emphasizes is the 
vast potential of such innovations. It spotlights the tipping point 
inherent in the immense number of such breakthroughs currently in the 
laboratory, under development, or being commercialized.

The world has been racked by food, fuel, environmental, financial, 
and economic crises. Ecosystem and biodiversity loss has led to an 
emerging climate crisis and a looming natural resource calamity.

A Blue Economy, able to deal systematically with these many 
challenges, and ready to seize the manifest multiple opportunities, 
is now essential. Our Earth has always been our greatest resource, 
and this book cites 100 new reasons why investing in both local and 
global ecosystem sustainability is even more valid and central today.

Leonardo da Vinci neatly summed up the power of ecosystems and 
nature's material efficiency in his Codex Atlanticus: "Everything 
comes from everything, and everything is made of everything, and 
everything turns into everything, because that which exists in the elements is
made up of these elements."

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary and UNEP Executive Director
Ashok Khosla, President of IUCN

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Santa Barbara Permaculture Network
    an educational non-profit since 2000
(805) 962-2571
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"We are like trees, we must create new leaves, in new directions, in 
order to grow." - Anonymous

First Annual Southern California Permaculture Convergence August 2008
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