Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Inspirational web radio - Planetary Voices

Planetary Voices audio site features interviews with people passionate about the planet. Each interviewee is living their life out of a sense of strong conviction.

Themes range from the environment through human rights to peace and embracing the taboo of death. Hear Suzanne Vega the artist, Ela Gandhi and Greenpeace chair Wolfgang Sachs among others.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Our Sustainability Model

Don't get me wrong, triple bottom line accounting is a good thing. But we have been struggling to find a way to explain in a simple way what sustainability is all about.

After trying various approaches we have come to the conclusion that the four aspect model is
easier to understand
  • gives rise to more useful conversations about how to develop an organisation toward sustainability
  • gives a good basis for reporting (even triple line and GRI)

    We are interested in your comments, you are welcome to download a powerpoint from a recent presentation of the model. Click on the link below or the title.

    Download powerpoint

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Sustainable Christmas Present idea #1 The e-novel "Inventing for the Sustainable Planet"

Yes! Your favourite blog is now available as an e-book to give your friends to get them with the sustainability movement. It's urgent and important but oh so fascinating.

Max Wahlter, a journalist specializing in science and technology, decides his new career is in sustainability. Having come across an innovation technique called Image Streaming he proceeds to create a vision of the sustainable society, publishing the results on his web log.
This book is a collection of his weblog postings, drawings, musings, verifications and observations. Much of it comes from this blog but there are "lost tapes" and other side-streets to be experienced.

Enjoy a ride into technology and sustainability but above all, be prepared to be challenged with what might be the deepest, best kept secrets of living sustainably yet to be uncovered.

Although the visions put forward are purely fiction, be prepared for surprises as the author seeks to verify the validity of the insights via the Internet.

Where does he get it all from?” Eduardo Miranda, author of ” Implementing the high–tech project office”.

”Most Intriguing” Andrew Bibby, Times correspondent.

“The conclusions drawn in this book are highly confronting to everyone” Shirin Laji, member of Swedish IT Commission.

Buy now - .pdf format, 68 pages, 2.6 M only $9.00 US.

Click here for more information

Quick Buy

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Cartoons as sustainability tool

Hats off to Hiroshi TAKATSUKI who draws under the Pen-name of High Moon.

Hiroshi is a Professor at the Environment Preservation Center, Kyoto Universityp

His cartoons make wonderful, thought provoking messages of the need to move to sustainability urgently.

Click on the link and enjoy and share!

Monday, November 29, 2004

Underground freight pipelines look promising for New York

The amount of material transported into and out of New York is phenomenal. A good percentage of the food New Yorkers eat comes into the city to be processed at Hunts point. Some 30,000 trucks a day enter the area. Then there are the mail and parcels, container shipments, construction works etc. Twelve thousand tons PER DAY of residential and industrial waste are picked up and compacted to be transported out of the city to landfill. The direct cost is estimated to $1 Billion. Indirect costs to the environment and health of all those trucks passing by are not included.

The report calls for six types of freight pipeline: (1) tunnel construction, (2) transporting municipal solid waste, (3) transporting mail and parcels, (4) delivering goods on pallets, (5) dispatching containers from seaports to an inland inspection/transfer station, and (6) ferrying trucks with their cargoes.

Click on the link to learn more about underground freight pipelines in New York.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Tube freight transport revisited

Just want to relate an interesting experience with image streaming (IS). I went to visualise a sustainable society which handled logistics effectively.
What I found was a city with underground tubeways, sending pallets on trucks in capsules. the trucks were powered by compressed air.

"What IS this?" I thought. Carried on anyway.

Doing my research I found that this solution was invented back in the 1800's there are many web sites on the solution and NEW YORK City has just commissioned a study on using the solution.

try this lnk

My relections. I had not heard of this before, but looking at the diagrams on the website it was just what I had envisaged in the IS. So I did not "invent" anything new. But at least I quickly learned about the solution and took it on board. So IS functions like a kind of accelerated learning.

Click on the link to learn more about Image Streaming

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Visit: Economic growth/Logistics

The question I have concerns economic development. You have to have economic development, (includes organizations balancing their books and increasing GDP) whilst a society has to drastically reduce its impact on the environment. I would like to see a society that handles reducing environmental impact drastically whilst growing economically.

I would like to visit a place that has achieved that and is good at balancing the two.

Tapescript: Economic growth/Logistics

I enter the departure lounge, again a shiny bench and rubber plant.
“So you want to do something different”” the facilitator says.

Why don’t you revisit PORENA instead? The problems are related.

(It is true I had this question as well on my list. Why I wanted to revisit PORENA was to investigate the problem of distribution and logistics, getting things to households, computer heating lighting computers TV etc.)

Not one to mistrust wild impulses in an image stream, I set off for PORENA.

Round the corner the London bus is waiting. I get onto the old-style Double Decker. The conductor rings the bell and we set off.

We travel past the side of the mountain I visited earlier. We speed along a dual carriageway and turn off into a small country lane.
I see the now familiar walled city, surrounded by hills. The bus pulls into the arrivals area and I walk off straight up the stairs to the circular walkway on the second floor.

For image streaming to work I know I must create a beachhead door. What better than the door to the logistics office which turns up on the right? I open it and enter.

It’s a rather busy office with people milling around, some looking a giant maps.

“Excuse me; can anyone explain how logistics works in this place?”

“Sure, where would you like to start?”

I look over their shoulders and the radial plans of the city.

The tubes are the best place to start.

The city has an underground system of tubes, working on a vacuum.

We start in the residential area, to visit a distribution point. It is sort of like a small hut where the goods emerge from. Under the hut is this underground pipe way.
I think the dimensions are 6 by 2 meters, or maybe handling two or four pallets.
Anything that uses a pallet can be sent that way.

“How do goods get sent here if that is their destination?” I ask.

“They are pushed out from the pipe system onto a passive conveyor belt.
Most things can be put on it furniture, etc.”

“What carries it? “ I ask. “How is it conveyed, controlled?”

The system is controlled from one distribution point. Goods arrive for example at the station and are loaded into the pipeline. The pipeline holds capsules containing the pallets. The capsules are pushed around and controlled rather like a physical version of the electronic packages that make up the Internet.

“So you transfer packages via this system of tunnel ways to this point, and people come and get them when they are available. “

“Oh yes! There is plastic over the pallet to protect it from the weather. The left-over package material goes in the other side to be sent for recycling.”

The pallet rolls down under gravity back into the pipe.

I wonder about heavy stuff. How people carry furniture etc to their houses from these points.

I see they use a hand-powered cart with fork lifts and lifting devices to carry heavy furniture to the residences. They are communal and kept in the communal storeroom.

Medium size stuff, computers etc, come the same way.

That brings me to consider the security problem.. someone else “receiving “ my package... but I get no answer just now, the whole possession thing is not cleared up in my mind.

We walk back to the control room.

I wonder how these things are propelled. Something to do with air. Are they blown along in a vacuum tube? I think I have seen a design like this for office documents. There’s a machine blowing air into the system which keeps it moving.

When it comes to its destination, a door opens and it gets shot out into the distribution point.

Is their some kind of hydraulic principle here – the way air acts hydraulically, like a big piston pushing air slowly into a narrow tube? I would have thought blowers would be the answer.

As I describe, the images become clear.

Each capsule, which fits exactly into the tube, runs on rails, pushed around by air. The capsule carries the pallets inside until it arrives at its destination. There is an electronic sender on each capsule/Pallet. The capsule shoots around the system, the sender gets points to change and airlock doors to open up.

The capsule rides along the rails 30km/h, comes to its exit, points change, track exits onto an airlock, and it pushes its load onto the passive conveyor.

I study the plan on the wall. It is not really radial, more like a mandala. One dark-haired person presents himself as an expert. I ask to see the overall layout.

Time for borrowed genius. I enter through his head into his eyes. The map on the wall shows several circles. It seems to be a continuous loop, you go from one to the other and back the other way. The capsules are controlled by radio tags.

Goods come in from where they are manufactured in the second zone, just outside the inner administrative zone. Trains come in leave stuff and take stuff. Everything is transferred to the pipeline system. Then it goes to the manufacturing area. After that it leaves for its final destination, a distribution point.

They have actually abolished parts of large goods retail as I know it. Retail’s virtual here. You order what you want and the goods go direct from manufacturing to customer. You can get what you want a little more customized that way.

Everything is assembled on site. This is to achieve a minimum of material in movements. As much as possible is done locally. We are not talking sand to silicon chips to TV. What we mean is that the final assembly is done locally. This final assembly is possible like this because of the way products are designed. Each product is assembled from a combination of modules. Assembly is done by a specialized assembly house, and the products are designed to be easily assembled in these houses.

The manufacturing area also houses component manufactures who either make components or modules. Heat is reused into the heating systems, so manufacturing is advantageous to have in cities. And you have a lot of people around who can walk there.

Tapescript notes: At this point I believe it might be advantageous to explore what one “cell” or section of the pipeway might look like so I drew a diagram.

When a capsule reaches point L1, the radio tag causes the points to switch it into the siding and up to the distribution point “Output”.
The goods are pushed onto the passive conveyor. I think the capsule, as it is on rails, is easy to manually push back into the pipeline system. For that to work all airlocks should be shut except (b). The truck rolls passively into the siding.

If someone at the input point has called a capsule, and one is detected in the siding, there is an automatic opening of airlock ( c ). Airlock (d) opens and the capsule is propelled toward the input point.

Once filled and pushed back into the system, starting with airlock (d) opening briefly to allow it to pass into the siding, as it closes (a) opens and then ( c ) to send the capsule back to the main circuit.

I leave my logistics genius and try to find someone who will help me with the propulsion system. I see a big cylinder construction from the window of the control room, and this is part of it. He takes me down near the park, to show two gigantic cylinders. Inside them there are pistons driven by an electric motor. These produce the propulsion force, not a blower.

Each exit point the main outlet airlocks. Think of the cylinders as a bicycle pump. You can run the whole system like this just on two propulsion points. The pipeline is like a cycle tyre. The role of the pumps is too keep the pressure up. I hear 3 bar (three times atmospheric) for 30 km/hr but I am no expert on this side of things.
The pressure disappears every time the doors open so the doors have to close quickly. (I see a likeness to the ghost train at the fair but say nothing.)

At the exit points gravity slows the capsules down, although they do have their own breaking systems. The capsules have low rolling resistance and can be pushed by hand. People power is good. I am reminded again of the PORENA philosophy of not taking away physical efforts from daily life, rather avoiding stressing or straining the body.

The pumps are located at strategic points around the circle.

Control is passive. A control logic is built into the system. Trucks can move around empty or be waiting at special sidings. You can always call for a truck.

Turning to a more general discussion of logistics, I get the feeling there could be actually 4-5 different types of vehicles in Porena, even motorized vehicles. Maybe we can talk about construction or rebuilding where larger things need transporting. Like construction vehicles?

They are actually not against using lorries for construction. That is where motorized vehicles come into their own; earth moving and earthworks. Anyway, Diesel engines can be run on vegetable oil for example. Large lorries can be driven on the gravel road.

Once the area is built you can use the other systems. You have the canal, which is very efficient as well.

What about daily logistics? This is what the barges on the canal are for. The shops come to you. Clothes and shoes? You pick up what you need from the barges.
Food is grown everywhere so you just go and get it. Small quantities for everything seems to be the rule but I have never really understood why. I wonder of there is not is some secret of logistics here I am missing.

If you remove roads and do not transport people you reduce transport consumption drastically So then what you have is left to transport is household goods and larger stuff via the pipeline system. You can even get a pallet delivery with a lot of household stuff if you need to stock up in bulk.

Before I leave, I am invited to ride around the system in the inspection capsule. It works just as I imagined even felt a bit like the ghost train at the funfair. In the background you could hear the “thud thud” of the cylinder propulsion system almost like a heart beat. And the airlock doors throw themselves open as you approach.

I leave with what might be more questions than I came with

End of tapescript from visit: Economic growth/Logistics

Reflections Economic growth/Logistics

What I liked … an economical, effective form of transport logistics

What surprised me… the propulsion system. And the re-thinking of product and manufacturing!

What can be used immediately… maybe this sort of thing exists already. Investigate. The re-thinking of manufacturing might contain an element of a business idea, but it is close to the way Dell works today. And Ikea.

Further questions.
How can you ride around in that...will not the pressure hurt you?
Still not resolved the possession/money/work equation!

New Invention #update: The Corporate Wellness Officer

Health is too important to be left to health professionals. Every company should have its own CWO - Chief Wellbeing Officer.

The responsibilities of the CWO:

MAXIMIZE health & well-being of employees (reduces insurance costs, increases efficiency, increases attractiveness as employer).

MAXIMIZE health promotion of products and services, that is to say maximize the health promotion properties of your product or service. This means customers get a greater experience from buying from you, and far more reasons to buy from you.

INCORPORATE the Health message in your marketing, explaining how your product and service promotes well-being.

Which leads me to ponder if a better qualification for being a CWO might be that of a veterinarian. They are after all responsible for keeping healthy animals healthy and productive. A health care professional of today probably doesn’t have that kind of experience on humans. Makes you think…

Monday, November 22, 2004

Governments must govern to increase progress toward sustainability

A report from last year by the World Bank analyses how best to achieve good social and environmental practices in global supply chains.

One unanimous demand from participants in report, underlined by Peder Michael Pruzan-Jorgensen at the Swedish partnership for Global Responsibility seminar in Stockholm 18th November, was for increased Public Sector Engagement.

Ironically, it is the private sector that has demonstrated commitment towards social and environmental standards in supply chains by enforcing local standards where they are consistent with international norms.

For progress to speed up, the private sector cannot continue to be “doing the job of government”.

Respondents call on government and local government to get involved more vitally in enforcing standards and supporting the efforts of private sector actors and civil society to promote better social and environmental practices.

IFTSP comments: government can be a useful invention to apply towards sustainability.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Corporate responsibility in the supply chain: South African Model

A good example of across the board cooperation towards sustainability is demonstrated by the South African Wine Growers voluntary agreement. This case was presented by Peder Michael Pruzan-Jorgensen at the Swedish partnership for Global Responsibility seminar in Stockholm 18th November. We have been unable to find a web reference to check details but the principles are an extremely interesting example of how developing countries can set up cooperation to encourage corporate social responsibility.

The voluntary organization, partly funded by refunds on UK customs tax levees, was set up to oversee the development of corporate social responsibility in the wine export industry.
Members are required to comply fully with legal requirements and a code of conduct.
The organization monitors the members, provides training and manages various initiatives.

One benefit was that the government were so satisfied with the organization’s own internal monitoring that they concentrated instead on wine growers supplying local markets, where conditions were much worse.

Such set ups can be given real financial teeth. One example would be where one country allows a certain export quota to another country withcompanies participating in the voluntary code of conduct. To the degree this code is broken, export quotas are reduced.

This set up results in a lot of self-management.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Zurich Cantonal Bank (ZKB) put Sweden first and USA last in sustainability league

Sustainability rating is increasingly becoming a factor for investors. ZKB are pioneering the development of sustainability index to compare countries. To our mind, rating is a good way to make it clear to everyone how important sustainability is, and in simple terms, what needs to be done. And, that many times SIMPLE SOLUTIONS are available. (See earlier posts on our Innovation training)

Their recent report places Sweden first, followed closely by Denmark and Switzerland. And USA ends up at the bottom.

Factors giving Sweden high marks include low relatively per capita CO2 gas emissions and high efficiency. FSC certified forests, a high share of organics farmland (6%) and high biodiversity rank high too. Sweden achieved the best social rating, Sweden spends most on research and development (4.6% of GDP) and Corporate Social responsibility - CSR -performance is high.

The USA registered the lowest result in no less than three areas. The highest meat consumption, very high paper consumption, the highest waste volumes and low recycling rates.
CO2 emissions, at 20 tonnes per capita, are by far the highest.

In social rating USA came 23rd. The large number of overweight people and low tobacco and alcohol prices had a negative impact on healthcare.

Download this and other reports here

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Sustainable Supply Chain Management tools from Nordic Partnership

Ensuring sustainability through the supply chain will help your company minimize risks, improve operational performance and efficiency and improve competitiveness.

However, those companies intending to face the challenge of sustainability throughout their supply chain may find the task insurmountable. For example: what do they need to consider before embarking on the task, what approaches are available and how to choose between them, and once key areas are identified, how much is needed to be invested?

To tackle the Sustainable Supply Chain Management (SSCM) challenge head on, a group of representatives from Volvo Cars, Novo Nordisk, Novozymes, Danisco, Brdr Hartmann, P&G Nordic, ITT Flygt, Posten AB, Cowi, ERM and Unido, got together to produce a diagnostic approach. This project is managed by Iver Drabæk, of Drabæk Consult, on behalf of the Nordic Partnership Secretariat.

The team produced a diagnostic tool to help with the above questions. It is released at version 1.00. More information is on the website The tool can be downloaded from

Monday, November 08, 2004

Sustainability inbuilt in all humans

Reflections on Visit to Porena: teaching sustainability

You may not remember, but the visit to a "visualised" sustainable city included a trip to the school. We were told that the ability to understand sustainability is inbuilt in the human. Provided children get to interact with their environment before the age of 10 it will be part of thier mental make-up for life.

When I questioned this the teacher took me in a room to show me the children's drawings.

Below is a cartoon from the Japanese Professor Hiroshi Takatsuki. Adopted and repainted in color from his cartoon collection, HaiKIbutsu, or precious wastes.

Looking at it I can't help but think: WE DO GET THIS DON'T WE?

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Making it easy to buy extremely efficient products

Clearly, more effective products and techniques exist out there, but they are sometimes difficult to find. Who has the time to track it all down?

Reactual is an organization of specialists and enthusiasts who are devoted to researching the most effective ways of producing the necessities of life.

Their METAEFFICIENT guide aims to bring that information to you, and help you make more informed decisions in your daily life.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Ekotopia Centre for Sustainability

Ekotopia is a centre for sustainability situated just outside Aneby, 3,5 hours drive south of Stockholm. Designed originally as a place where sustainability principles were both practically demonstrated and developed, it is now developing into a conference centre and regional support centre. It offers top of the range lecture facilities with overnight accommodation, small meeting rooms and temporary offices. For assistance, companies can call in with a wide range of environment and sustainability problems.

  1. Lecture room and restaurant
  2. Large windows give spacious feeling throughout
  3. Solar panels on south facing wall
  4. Offices and group rooms in next building
  5. Moss roof doubles as insulation and rainwater filter
  6. Deciduous wood of the type growing locally is used extensively. Here as wall covering, with explanation.
  7. Restaurant interior of recycled bricks from local train station
  8. Glass paneled doors recycled from local council headquarters
  9. Traditional 19th Century building moved here - meeting place with atmosphere

Thursday, October 28, 2004

How to connect money and environment

Please note: these exercises are done by people sometimes with expertise in the subject matter and sometimes without. The aim is stimulate your own thoughts and innovative powers and to get you involved in sustainability. We take no responsibility for the feasibility any of these ideas unless we have entered extensive verification and testing.

The aim of this visualisation is find a place that has used money to create a very fast transformation from an explosive growth society emitting large amounts of material into the biosphere to a sustainable society where money has been the principle instrument of this change.

A curiosity: earlier on in PORENA money was a bit of a problem as people had forgotten its purpose. We are asking for a situation where money is the instrument of change.

So I follow my own instructions and sit in the exit lounge on a bench.

The facilitator turns up.

“You again!” he says.

I reply “My quest is different this time it is to find how society has gone from explosive growth to very rapidly to sustainable society using money as the instrument of change.”

“That’s a tough one,” says the facilitator “I am not sure I can help you”.

There must be one of these lifts that can take me where I want to go.

He looks puzzled. I ask “What are you doing here then if you can’t help?”

“Don’t go with me,” he says.

I look around this gigantic departure lounge and mall.

Further down the mall a green lift seems to be calling me,

The button on the outside of the lift says “money”.

So I guess this must be right. It seems to be similar to the other lifts, painted very plainly in a light green.

“Using the money” is on the lift button I push and off we go.

Slowly, with the lift cranking “budda budda,” we ascend.

I notice I am alone. I lean against the metal handrail, unsure of what is going on.

Apprehensive. Is this right, good, possible? Is money a good way to create change towards sustainability? Am I the right one to ask the question - I have no head for economics?

The door opens onto a rock tunnel. I go through into another door this time it opens onto an underground control area very similar to where I was before, looking at the sustainability footprint reporting. Maybe I have ended up in the footprint monitoring area again.

A lot of people are staring at a lot of screens in what I think they call “the pit”.

And up in the control room managers, I assume, are staring down at them. A gigantic screen seems to be showing the news or something like it.

I enter this control booth. People are moving knobs, staring at the screen. It seems to be a monitoring station - you would think it is NASA. It IS a national body – or an international body of some sort.

“Can you tell me what you are doing,” I ask one guy.

“We are monitoring the waves, the airwaves, for the news”

I feel confused until I understand that is what HE is doing, monitoring the news for economic information.

But If I am to find out how you use money to get to sustainability I need to talk to an expert down on the floor. I go down to the floor and ask.

“Sure, let’s grab a room with a whiteboard,” a guy says.

“Wait up! Is this going to be complicated?” I ask.

“Not really.”

This is how we use money to accelerate sustainability.

He draws a diagram of time vs emission, with time on the horizontal axis. This represents an index which all countries have agreed to follow.
There is a straight line descending from the present levels to levels equivalent to a limit per inhabitant that does not exceed what nature of the equivalent area can absorb. It looks to be over 10 or 20 years.


The index is connected somehow to money and the price of goods.

The total amount of money in the country is connected to the rate of reduction in emissions.

Everyone wants the value of the money to go up I am thinking, but realising I know nothing about economics and wondering why I even started on this exercise.

A total monetary index based on the currency values at the starting point. That index works … I am not getting it….

Time for borrowed genius. I come behind my guide and look through his eyes.

This is how it works. All developed nations agree on a starting point. They agree on a certain GDP (Gross Domestic Product), number of inhabitants, and the footprint exerted by the nation. They also agree currency exchange rates in order to fix the GDP relative to each others.

From this they work out the footprint per inhabitant at the starting point.
Then, the theoretical footprint limit for the nation, based on its area and a few other factors.
From the theoretical footprint limit it is possible to work out the footprint limit per inhabitant.

Now, that would mean a decrease in the footprint exerted by a certain percentage.
For example, a nation like Sweden which is just about at its theoretical limit might only have to achieve a few percent reduction.

A highly industrialised, densely populated country like England would have a much higher percentage reduction to achieve.

The value of this reduction is set equivalent to the corresponding percentage of GDP. Say a reduction of 20% was needed. This would be equivalent to 20% of that nation’s GDP.

To make it easier to follow, every nation had these figures converted to an index where 100 was starting footprint per inhabitant and 0 was target level. This reduction was to take place over 20 years.

Except it was interpreted as the debt was 0 at year one, and 100 percent at year 20.

So if a nation did not reduce its emissions at all, it would have a debt of the equivalent amount to the other countries.

Existing footprint, existing currency. These are combined into the index, put all into a currency basket.

I am really not sure I understand what he is saying. “What about … can you make a difference between environmentally good transactions and those that aren’t? Would the less environmentally sound transactions cost more? Is there a coupling, a connection there between the two?”

He replies,” to understand that you need to look at the way the society involved in the scheme operates.”

And this is why you need central monitoring. It is the central monitoring centre that puts the environment and the currency together. And it is the deciding body. A bit like having a central bank.

To understand how that works in practice we have to go out in the street.

We go to the local market.

I see on the market stall that prices and taxes are different. There is a tax on everything. The tax helps the government. It takes money in to pay for the environmental debt, as a tax on top of the price of the goods.

So for example if something is taxed highly, the tax goes into government funds which are earmarked either to pay the debt (to the IEF?) or to solve the problem and thus not incur the debt. If it doesn’t work you will have nations owing a lot of money. If it does work they will not owe anything as the footprint will be reduced by the equivalent amount required in the index.

The nation could also “buy” some other nation’s footprint absorption ability o the other nations own footprint was less than its land area.

This nation has decided to add a tax on top of all consumer goods sold.

The environmentally sound product is cheap for the consumer to buy as tax is low. Unsound products incur higher tax and are relatively more expensive.

“It all requires monitoring” says my guide.

“Why were you monitoring the news?” I ask.

“The body monitors what goes on in each country and how the news is spread. This is because consumer attitude and all kinds of human factors can come into play to affect the mechanism.”

“Now we are half way through the year. Some are making it some are not. Those that are not will be asked to pay, and that money will be used to fund a task force to redress the emissions.”

There is technological solution, which is the cost of cleaning it up. This is difficult to pinpoint so there is an agreed set of standard costs for each emission type clean-up.

For those countries that are able to go below the planned limits, they are able to sell their goods cheaper as there is less tax on them and they become more competitive. And the goods are better for the world as long as the right logistic route is found to supply other countries.

So this is using competing and money by re-drawing the playing field.

Anything else?

“How would you define the tax?” I ask.

The reply reveals it is defined as a percentage scale based on GRI (Global Reporting Index). It puts goods into 12 categories based on GRI, with yes/no questions covering 50 different analysis points.
For every product you sell you submit a declaration, from that your tax category is worked out for that product. It makes it more complicated but modern techniques it is possible. Tax groups are from 0 – 12.

For example, local produce sold in the market is group Zero.

“How does that affect wages?” .. “no difference there.”

“VAT? “
“VAT is included in the tax group”

“And the black market?“

“There will always be a black market whatever you do. It will be for environmentally unsound good of high value. The tax is only on the consumer, taxed when it is bought not when it is produced.”

The high tax ones, you should keep the price down, to do that production should be efficient so the incentives are there to reduce the tax, not go into black marketing.

The decision was taken among nations in a federation. It was done as a decision between those countries with high emission levels per inhabitant.

It gives other countries with low emissions an advantage.

Those countries with low levels were not in the reduction basket.

I get frustrated: ”I can’t see America going along with it. There is not enough incentive.”

Once you understand that release of materials into the environment is essentially expensive the system is good because it encourages efficiency, which brings competitiveness.

The system is very good because it encourages you, like best practice, like accounting follows best practice, because it represents what is considered to be the limits to what the Earth, or the part of the Earth the country is sovereign over, can handle long term.

It connects a monetary figure to the limits of emissions for what the biosphere can take.

I put a question. How they work it out?

We go down to the control room there your have the currency monitoring system. It reminds me of a stockbrokers room, where the figures come up. They are being monitored continually. The footprint of the nation broken down into greenhouse gasses: Carbon dioxide, Methane, Ethane, etc.

The countries down the left and along the top Metals, in use, metals dumped,

The dumping you need to measure what you dump, which is mostly estimated. Household rubbish not sorted has a high tax. It s contents are estimated; by testing samples of household waste regularly a reasonable estimate can be achieved.

The tax is collected in order to offset the debt. The money should be used to put activities and packages in action to rectify the problem.. If the audit by the federation reveals the footprint is not reduced by the required amount, the debt is collected. And used to rectify the problem, the federal agency which then uses it to put the problem right.

It is an environmental undertaking, not a sustainability one. Reaching sustainability is up to each government.

I strain to understand the real name of this body it looks like EEF or EMF or something. The European environmental Foundation. Economic Environmental Foundation. Federation. European Environmental Fund. That is where we are. The foundation is given money in order to work with the nations.

Each nation gets recommendations, reports and then the money is given back as grants depending on what needs to be done. If for example people are using a lot of transport then the funds are given back to address that.


Got it! And then it is monitored again. There are reports written and published. These are followed by the news. What we are watching on the news is the reaction in the country to the most recent EEF report and recommendations.

The first question was how they managed to get countries to set the federation up in the first place. But having achieved that, the nations gave the federation the task of connecting money to environment. To find a starting point and carrying on with it and monitoring it. Finding a working method.

I suppose you can describe the method as reporting and then setting currency and deciding the level of contribution based on the debt incurred. (The cost of cleaning it all up in ten years)

The aim is to reduce the footprint to what can be absorbed in that country.
Although you can have footprint trading in the federation.

That is why the currency has to be aligned.

If you have the same currency you cannot do that. It has to be a tax if nations share a single currency. It could be handled in a tax union or federation.

Let’s take an example. Start in 1990 one dollar is ten euros. The Europeans reduce their footprint faster than the Americans do. Now. For the same goods, as the Europeans are better at reducing footprint, their products are cheaper (incur less national debt).
This means there is a relative inflation in the US and a relative rise in the exchange rate dollar- euro. The dollar becomes more expensive to the Euro plus the dollar the Americans have a larger federal debt. After two years the American pay for the year gone that money is taken, there is and audit the federation gives the nation tasks to do and offers to help using best practice. Remember we are aiming towards significant reduction, extreme reduction. Every month a reduction is required. Then some of the money is used to subsidies to funds and grants and it comes back to the country under the jurisdiction of the EEF. This is like quarantining funds, or lending them at zero interest.

As the currency is higher products are more expensive and it is more expensive to go there and trade. So the rise means their products that still sell will get more money for them they have more money to pay the tax.

“That is neat!” I exclaim as I start to see some kind of symmetry.

“We think so,” my guide replies.

The report is done once a year, the debt is charged, the funds transferred, and distributed.
The EEF then puts actions into prioritises countries and aspects of countries to pay the money back in one way or another. If you keep in track there is no money to pay.

Being a real amateur in economics, and feeling I have had more than I can handle I take my leave.

End of tapescript connecting money to environment

Reflections, connecting money to environment

I think I understand the basics of this: that each nation has a debt equivalent to the extent its footprint exceeds the country area, in proportion to its GDP.

Either the country reduces its footprint or incurs fines. These fines affect the national economy negatively but help other more environmental countries.
The fines are used to pay for cleaning and resolution of the problem.

The fine details of how this affects inflation and currency exchange rates I would like to leave to an expert.

A method reflection: I have worked with something I now nothing about. I have learnt a lot. Being forced to look up the basics of economics in order even to be able to type up the tapescript. I have noticed the last few days that I have taken in economic information on the news in another way. So Image streaming like this is a good way to learn a new subject.

The problem will come with verification. The only way I can verify this is to give it to someone who understands macro economics. Yet I daren’t in case the person laughs and says things like “so out of my depth, wasting time etc”.

On the other hand, why are economists not working on this to come up with something better? – it really is urgent!

End reflections

Thursday, October 21, 2004

More on walking everywhere

Got a lot of feedback on removing roads from urban areas.
You might want to take a look at TODs (Transportation Oriented Design) and PODs (Pedestrian Oriented Design) community development. One use of P.O.D
The book Pedestrian Pocket Book is a good start to this concept. It is fairly similar to ideas of Radiality. It proposes light rail from the town center to each POD of residential and retail so the car becomes non existant. I have been also recommended books by Paul Hawken and William McDonough...

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Comments from Edward on Walking everywhere

I've been pondering about this a lot lately because I started riding the bus to work. However, the nearest bus stops are a 25 minute walk from my house. Especially in the early mornings and late evenings when there are very few cars on the road, the miles of pavement certainly seem to be a waste of tax money as well as an environmental nuisance. Now, it would be nice if I had a good path, trail or sidewalk to use to get to the bus because currently about half my walk is through dusty fields so it's difficult to get to work and still be presentable. :-)

Monday, October 18, 2004

Back to Radiality

Got into discussion with several people about cities. I was saying according to my calculations (I freely admit I’m no expert) that you could build cities to house one million people in such a way that you need no roads, that population density is less than that of the London suburb Ealing, and that all you need is one underground train North-South and one East-west and everything will be in easy walking distance to everything else.
See the Radiality Report from earlier inventing trips (link below)

It turns out the Swedish Green party is advocating along the same lines.
People have been getting really irate when I suggest it (what about goods transport, what about old people, what about how could I carry my XXX to my customers?).

Cool. I like a good debate. I still maintain it seems no sense in A LARGE PERCENTAGE OF URBAN SPACE BEING TAKEN UP BY ROADS. Is this the best we can do?

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Follow Tom Peters: Re - Imagine.

Listen to Tom Peters. He is urging every one to Re-Imagine. In times like these when uncertainty rises and (my words) the challenge of sustainability creeps ever higher up the priority list you need to respond appropriately.
Not doing many small changes to many small things. Not any more. Re-imagine your company: the way you work, your customers, the way you use IT and more. Check out his blog by clicking the link below.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

E-briefing # 2 What does sustainability mean to business?

These e-briefings are for people who are interested in a simple run-down on sustainability. We cover a wide area from how serious it is, to what it means to organizations though to ways of handling the challenges.

We are going to give it to you straight as we see it, and try and point you in a constructive direction. We also want you to work with us if you are as serious about it as we are. All companies and public sector agencies should address sustainability if they have not started to do so. We do not just mean environmental issues, or even Corporate Social Responsibility.

Three trends to look out for especially.

The first, is the availability of production and various services at much lower prices than your organization can deliver. For example, it is cheaper to send people overseas for health care than to stay in your own country. And products of equal quality can be produced for a fraction of the price in China compared to Europe.

The second trend is societal pressure. As globalization continues so does consumer awareness. Consumers and users of services are demanding transparency into your products and services to ensure they are environmentally, socially and health appropriate.
And the United Nations is pushing countries to address sustainability, with the climate challenge as a priority. Whatever route to reducing climatic effects is chosen, you can be sure that the cost of doing business is going to rise.

The third trend is the increase in cost of poor health. This does not just cover people being away from work, but being in such a poor state of health that you cannot get a full day’s work out of them.

So for businesses the message is to re-think, or Re-Imagine as Tom Peters says what your organization is up to. Falling employment, fierce competition from oversees along with rising consumer and societal demands.

These are the basics as we see them. To go deeper into how your organization can address sustainability challenges look at AVBP’s methods for across the board cooperation, or IFTSP creative inventing and problem-solving for sustainability.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Maslow’s hierarchy revisited

Porena follow up notes: Connection to Maslow and the Five Stresses

Regular readers will remember that in the Sustainable Society of PORENA, a lot of work was done to understand what they called the five stresses. These were in the areas of
1) Nutrition
2) Shelter, including clothing
3) Mechanical stress, including safety aspects
4) Societal, communal
5) Toxic

The theory was that there are limits in all these areas, and exceeding them is deleterious to human health. That is to say, it puts a stress on the human organism that the human cannot resist for a long time without a breakdown in health. The clearer these limits are understood, the better work, buildings, society, production, etc can be designed.

There’s more. If you could reduce stress levels in these areas, you would achieve a change in behaviour. There would be a rapid reduction in destructive behaviour, and consequently in sustainability reducing effects of this behaviour.

This is actually what Maslow wanted to say with his hierarchy model (above).It was a sustainability promoting invention. Psychology could contribute to development by illuminating how these basic needs could be met. By doing what it could to reduce these stresses, society would reduce destructive behaviour.

We have to find ways to side-step this gigantic supply chain using up energy and spewing out waste, that in our (the consumer’s) name is “helping us fulfill ourselves”.

To enjoy your life, to fulfill yourself does not have anything to do with what you work with. You work primarily to keep life supported. First two Maslow steps. End of.

Then, the other steps should be accomplishable with the minimum of consumption of energy and resources.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Learn the techniques

New IFTSP training now available
Until now, the techniques of Inventing for the Sustainable Planet have been used by only a few. We decided to create a course around the techniques. The first pilot, held at United Spaces Offices in Stockholm, proved very successful.

With the space of two hours we had got everyone Image Streaming and in the last session they had “visited” a community which had solved the problem they were working on. Everyone furiously filled an A4 with pictures of their invention and shared them with the other group members at the end.

Those who have read the book could pick the instruction up as they are embedded in the text, and each chapter contains method notes with hints and tips for the single practitioner. However, we know that there is nothing like “live” instruction to get people confident and up and running quickly.

Click on the link below to se the brochure.

We are now offering to teach the techniques ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD via telephone conference. If you or a group of your friends are interested, drop IFTSP an e-mail (look in my profile) and we will set it up. Humane rates.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Sustainability Brief #1. How Serious is it?

We don’t want to scare anyone or come with doomsday prophesies. But ask yourself: is the society we are living in today capable of continuing on the path it is going for the next one, two, five, seven generations? In the words of the Bruntland committee ”Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

The answer is, of course, that the Earth and humanity look to be on a collision course. Meeting our needs today is definitely compromising future generations.

If you ask scientists you will probably hear (and they are all unusually in agreement) that the changes in climate are so drastic that the possibility of collapse is as close as 20 years away. Climate collapse means a new ice age, or extreme flooding and storms, or spread of deserts. All of these present grave threats to human life.

What about health? Again, agreement abounds that the lifestyle we enjoy today will result in an overburdening of the health-system and reduction in working efficiency over the next decades.

And our companies and organizations? Less unanimous, but we hear it regularly too, that by 2014 all production will be located in low-cost regions. Thanks to e-business, efficiencies will be reached to create massive unemployment in Europe. And with the rise of oil prices, our intensive consumption of transport for everything from commuting to food distribution will become far more expensive.

So to answer our own question: yes it IS serious, and the challenge is on the developed world to show ways to reduce damage to climate, environment and health and pass these on to developing nations eager to take over our energy- burning life-style.

In other words, rapidly decreasing the release to nature of waste and by-products. As we have no technical method of removing CO2 from emissions, it probably means reducing energy consumption to about a quarter of what it is today.
To achieve this, we need to increase our development to ensure society and economy continue to thrive.

Our experience with these issues tells us that we all need to engage in sustainability in all of the roles we play: as individual members of society, as consumers and in our work.

AVBP is working to develop ways to collaborate, to maximize creativity and finds ways to stimulate development in the sustainable direction. More on the home page (link below).

Watch for more e-briefings. Keep the feedback coming.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Collaboration Café

People generally agree that for the developed world to wholeheartedly face up to the challenge of climate change we need across the board collaboration.Collaboration cafés show that it is actually, given the right structure to proceedings, easy, effective and enjoyable. Collaboration cafés are definitely one of the best inventions for a sustainable planet.

Check in and information gathering about participants.

Issues at the top of delegates´agenda are captured and categorized for handling later.

After several subject matter presentations, instructions how this 50 delegate large operation is going to work.

People who have never met each other before are thrown into the work even at the lunch table!

Most work is done at carefully prepared tables.

A few minutes instruction is all that is needed.Groups work, change members, get new questions.

Results are presented and debated with the expert panel.

Thelink below goes to Sustainable Leadership, a company collaboring with our company (A Very Beautiful Place) offering facilitation and design of these cafés.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Natural History Museum takes up climate communication challenge

The 28th of September the Natural History Museum in Stockholm, Sweden opened its climate exhibition to the public. The day before, researchers, corporate representatives, politicians and Non-Government Agencies gathered to spend the day focusing on how best to meet the challenge of climate change. The researchers are in agreement: man-made emissions are seriously affecting climate, and the changes will be mostly negative for all – yet it is difficult to get this over to people in general. If we do nothing the consequences could be disastrous.

Picture: outside museum display of bus shelter in sub-artic conditions

Researchers are in agreement that the 84% increase in consumption of energy and materials between 1970 and 1997 explains the rapid increase in Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere. Since the beginning of time, the level of CO2 has never risen past 270ppmV. Today it is at 360ppmV and rising. To contribute this increase, man has depleted 40% of all oil reserves on the planet – in just 150 years.

This increase, resulting in Global Warming, will bring more rainfall in most places except those dry areas which will become hotter and dryer. This in turn will produce extreme weather – storms, floods, hot spells etc.

The increase in the harshness of conditions will drive people from their homes, drive up insurance costs for floods, hurricane damage etc. and fuel negative effects of climate on health. This includes Malaria in Europe, heatstroke in Spain and France, spoiled food and crops and spread of other tropical diseases in Europe.

We cannot find a thermostat in the Earth’s climate system that can counteract man’s activity. Either we turn the heat down or suffer the consequences. Looking for ballpark figures to aim for? Reduce all consumption in the developed world to a quarter of what it is today. For fairness, underdeveloped countries can double theirs.

See the next post to get a view of the exercise to create solutions.

Method Notes: How Much do You Edit?

I got the following question from a reader:
I'm curious to know how much or little editing you do. How close is what you have transcribed to what you recorded yourself saying? Your web posts seem very polished and I wondered if it just comes out that way on the tape.

The amount of editing I do is very little really.
I make proper sentences where the voice trails off, say who said something where a dialogue occurs, and sometimes, when I have got an impression of
something but not said it on the tape I add it.

Occasionally I change the order slightly to make it more logical.

End of Method notes: Editing

Monday, September 20, 2004

Comments on POT-IN-POT from Ulrike Haupte

As I live in Namibia, where hot spells last longer than cold spells, during the times before electricity was available nationwide, all kinds of devices were created and used for keeping food from spoiling.

a) coal coolers: Often big enough to walk into. The inner wall is continuous. In the outer wall the bricks are put on top of each other leaving a gap between. Otften a chicken-wire mesh is also put in. Thencleaned charcoal is packed between the two walls. The charcoal is watered daily. The inside room is cooled through the evaporation from the coals.

b) For travelling and camping. Use two cardboard boxes - from sturdy material - into each other. the gap should be at lest 2 inches all around. Between the boxes pack moistened newspaper - very tight. Keeps cold food atl ow temperature for a couple of days.

c) Canvas Waterbottle. Keeps drinking water cool through the slow evaporation process of water that oozes through the canvas.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Read this if you are new to the Blog

The Blog features the tapescripts (mostly) of groups` s sessions to invent sustainable technology. (We also feature examples of sustainable inventing - we are searching for a sustainable inventing methodology.)
The tapescripts are followed by notes to verify the method, the findings and to reflect on what is being learned.

The creativity techniques they use are a kind of visualisation, where they "visit" a place or country which has solved the problem they are dealing with.
They describe their experiences as they go.

For sustainability, groups have discovered that no new technology is needed, it is the way old technology is used that is the issue.

That is to say sustainability promoting inventions are social inventions.

Inventions so far:
Radiality (city planning to radically reduce transport needs)

Sustainability circles (like study circles but leading to sustainable behaviour)
Inventing for the sustainable planet: Porena ( journeys in short novel form)
Centres of well-being (on-going)

New social order" the go along society" Interview with Porena City Manager (borrowed Genius)

Friday, September 17, 2004

How Lost World poses sustainability question

Michael Crichton’s ”Lost World” carries important sustainability messages.
The book describes how scientists interest themselves in the island where dinosaurs have been living freely for some time. Skeletons and even DNA do not give the full picture: they want to study dinosaur behaviour.

More importantly, to see if their behaviour gave a clue to how they became extinct.

What they found was strange behaviour in the dinosaurs. When you hatch an egg artificially there is no mother to teach the young, so they do not learn what they need to survive.

But it opens a question related to humans: can we as a species develop behaviour so inappropriate to our environment that our species becomes extinct?

In this case the human behaviour is using DNA from fossils to give birth to extinct reptiles.

I leave you to read what Michael Crichton’ s scientists conclude. Click on the image to see more about the book.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Footprint being followed by many institutions


Research into the last tapescript reveals many actualy are following the footprint.

Click on the link below to see a full report. That the situation is serious no-one should doubt.

The world's ecological footprint is 14% above what it is believed the world can cope with.
And rising.

Maybe footprint IS the way to focus on sustainability.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Tapescript Focus on Sustainability

Next question. You are in a community that is not acting in a sustainable way and you want to focus people onto sustainability do you do that?

I want to talk to someone and go somewhere to find the answer to this. How do you bring people together from diverse areas and focus on sustainability. And how do you formulate a sustainability challenge? I believe that advanced problem-solving techniques could be used if only we could formulate the assignment succinctly.

I see a nice polished bench in a gigantic mall, familiar from last time. A large door, like an airport entrance is in front of me. To the sides are other lifts, exits and shops.

Which way shall I go?

Which lift?

Bright light shines through the entrance in front of me so I exit through that.

An escalator takes me up a flight to a covered walkway. I see gardens underneath, connecting out to green areas beyond. The semicircular roof, made of glass lets in a lot of light. In itself a good invention.

Round the next corner and down an escalator I descend into a garden. A fountain coming from a Roman-urn like sculpture sends water into the pond around it. Goldfish swim under Lilly leaves floating on its surface. Look down at the small bushes surrounding the pond and out of the corner of my eye I see a park bench. I go over and sit down.

A guy turns up, wearing a red shirt, sandals, he is bearded and looks a bit bohemian.

“You wanted to know about something?”
“Yes I did, I need to know how to focus on sustainability.”

“Come with me.”

I follow after him into a grey lift, which descends not vertically, but at angles downwards. It opens onto a corridor.

I follow him down another corridor into a large underground area that looks like a control room of some kind. He invites me into a meeting room at the side.

We sit down opposite each other. I check the room out: white board, flip charts, simple chairs, nothing out of the ordinary.

How do you focus on sustainability, how do you get people together to work on sustainability? He looks down at his paper.

“I don’t know”

“Why not?” I ask.

“You asked how you focus on sustainability,” he replies.

I ask him laconically “And what is that outside then?)

The room monitors footprint, collects data and makes it available.

The data is updated hourly.

A large screen shows weather patterns, another, ozone layer status. A guy sitting at a terminal is collecting data via the Internet. Indicators as such are collected and collated.

Another operator is compiling a table of fuel use, carbon dioxide release.
Another population figures, and other water quality. In real time monitoring. A direct feed is available for TV stations and other media.

“Why did you bring me here, my question was about focus?” I exclaim.

He replies “This is one way at least, it is very easy to do, and use the data for more studies.”

The Ecological Footprint is a tool for measuring and analyzing human natural resource consumption and waste output within the context of nature’s renewable and regenerative
capacity (or biocapacity). It represents a quantitative assessment of the biologically
productive area (the amount of nature) required to produce the resources (food, energy, and materials) and to absorb the wastes of an individual, city, region, or country.

As you can see the footprint of the population of the world exceeded the world’s capacity in the 70s. It is that serious.

I work it out;” But OK my question was how do you focus on sustainability and the answer is focus on footprint. I did not ask how you focus on solving sustainability issues.”

“You didn’t ask that and therefore did not get an answer.”

“Anything else?” I ask.

He draws the diagram of the four circles of sustainability. Enterprises, Communities, Individuals and the environment itself.

He explains how all four circles affect the footprint and all need monitoring.

I have at least some answers. I thank him and take my leave.


Thursday, September 09, 2004

New sustainable invention for health


Latest Medical Invention

This product is a sensation

  • Clinically proven to reduce coronaries and other heart-lung diseases.
  • Clinically proven blood pressure reducing
  • Clinically proven to prevent diabetes 2
  • Clinically proven to help resist colon cancer
  • Combined with appropriate diet, regular doses over longer period will bring about weight loss permanently
  • Preventative effect on osteoporosis. Clinically proven.
  • Reduces pain in joints and other complaints of locomotor system
  • Clinically proven to suppress worry and tension, mild depression and sleep disorders.

Dosage: once a day

Extra dose 3-5 times a week for weight loss

What IS it, you ask?

Where can I get it? What does it cost?

How much are you willing to pay for a month’s dose?




What if I could give it to you FREE!


It is

30 minutes a day brisk walking

Add 3-5 times a week walking 50 minutes at hearty tempo to increase fitness and loose weight.


Tuesday, September 07, 2004

How BIG is your footprint


This site calculates your own personal footprint and the positive effects of any changes in BEHAVIOUR you might want to make. Recommended. Click on the link below.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Pot-in-pot refrigeration without electricity

As IFTSP has maintained, going forward to a sustainable future requires applicaition of what we know, and sustainability promoting inventions are often simple and quickly taken up. Take the ROLEX-award winning pot-in-pot invention by Mohammed Bah Abba. Separated by a layer of constantly wet sand, the evaporating effect cools the inner pot.

Food spoilage is radically reduced, farmers can now sell their wares over longer periods, eppplants lasts for 27 days, and African spinach for 12. Based on simple technology and local materials, the invention helps bolster the local economy of rural areas.

New to this blog? Check out the link on the right "Read this if you are new".

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Sustainability Circles revisited

Method notes

I reviewed the script from the circle exercise and realised the instructions were far richer in detail than I had first realised. (See below.)

Conclusion. Always review tapescripts and document the invention in pictures and other ways (reports etc).

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Sustainability Circles

Sometime back IFTSP proposed sustainability circles and invited people to try and report back.
In these circles people from all walks of life come together to stimulate and help each other to act more sustainably.
Due to the summer vacations we have not had the opportunity to try them out. We still believe the might be a cool and interesting way of going about meeting the challenges our society faces. Click on the link below to go the the instructions.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

BMW profits from flexible workforce solution

One of the challenges to sustainability is for European companies to retain production and job security in “old” Europe. Already tens of thousands of big-company manufacturing jobs are migrating to the ten new member states.
The question: how can we retain manufacturing in major EU companies when wages are lower and skills are more or less on par in new member states, Asia, the Far East?
Maybe part of the answer can be seen at BMW. A recent article in Newsweek (link) says that way back in 1950, facing a takeover from arch rival Daimler, workers opted for flexible workweeks.
Today, workers put in overtime as needed and take it out as time off when production slows. And it pays off. BMW’s profit margins are at the industry leading edge. Whilst rivals seek to locate in the east to take advantage of cheaper labour, BMW is opening a 1 Billion Euro plant in Leipzig.

IFTSP says yet again, simple social inventions like flexible working hours promote sustainability

Monday, August 23, 2004

Origin of IFTSP techniques

The techniques of Inventing for the Sustinable planet are adaptations of a method called "image Streaming" invented by Win Wenger (see link below).

Win Wenger, Ph.D., is a pioneer in the fields of creativity and creative method, accelerated learning, brain and mind development, and political economy.

'From Image-Streaming on down — Win Wenger has been and is a massively influential character in the world of personal and professional development. His work, usually unattributed, has influenced the whole field of personal development. He's cool!`
quote from Michael Breen,

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Parent powered Ferris wheel example of sustainability thinking

Sustainability requires new, creative combinations. We believe one way to achieve this is to ask questions like; ”how can we set up a fairground which amuses children, has low environmental impact and provides a stimulus to adult exercise at the same time?” The fairy tail trail in Sörmland in Sweden demonstrates these principles on the parent-powered Ferris wheel. IFTSP takes its hat off to the manufacturers.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Supplementary Questions Business Model: Centres of Well-being

Tapescript Visit to Centers of Well-being: supplementary questions
(For new readers see "Read this is you are new" link to the right)
Last time I was interrupted by the telephone. It has never happened before, and makes me realise how lucky I have been in that respect. This will take up where I left off. I think as well that I already know the answers, and will not be open for surprises, which makes the method less reliable.

The question: what is the business model around the set-up of a Centre of well-being. We have been asked to go back and penetrate.

I run along the walkway, I see other exits which could provide an access for regular visits to other “worlds”.

I slide down the escalator rail this time, can’t wait or walk down.
And end up by the fountain. I wonder which to do - go to the development office first or…..
I like to look around so I go to the regional products market.
I ask for the story about the regional goat cheese.
They give me a little folder explaining the cheese’s origin and local connections..
I also get a taste. nice.
“How does this work?” I ask, meaning the business model of course.
We rent the shop space, like all the others.
“Do you know who owns the building?”
“Yes it’s a building management company who owns the building.”
I go up to the next floor to find the office spaces for rent – company hotel - and ask about renting a desk.
And about how their business model works.

It seems they rent out offices, desks and support services. They themselves rent the space from the building owners, the centre developers.
They also work together with the local new company support organisation, so newly-started companies can get started quickly with a desk and office facilities.

One of the purposes of having the office space is to encourage people to come and work here temporarily, to attract good outside help, or to establish here.
“If we do not rent the spaces we do not earn anything. The local authority rent a couple of space for their own project staff or for their partners.” My interview object explains.

I ask about the company hotel’s opinion of the building owners, the centre development firm.
“They are good, go and talk to them - they are on the third floor.”

I go up to the third floor, the Centre Development office and ask for a chat.

A guy in a business suit comes out.
Hi, I say “I’m interested in the overall business model of the Centre and the area development.”

He replies; “It’s simple. The initial stages are probably the most interesting.”

“We went into partnership with the local authority. We ran the project to start the centre’s activities. Our job was to supply office facilities, increasing as the project grew. Adapting this building to the size it s now. It was projected from the beginning to this size. The local authority rents it as part of their project.”

“It is good business for you?” I ask.
“It is good business for the regional products sellers because they get marketed. All feet or visitors pass through this area so it generates business opportunities for them. The centre acts like a magnet. They also, because they have the brochures, explain how to visit the farms which offer tourism as well. The suppliers are helped by tourists, and they have web sales. It is an integrated concept.”

The regional development people are happy as they are in the centre. The same with the travel centre which is also central.
The taxis have to pay a fee, but they have a contract and are partly subsidized so they make money.
As far as the advertising space is concerned we do not know how effective it is but it is important as part of the local profile communication.

The Bank is rather small and does a lot of its work through Internet and the other places - there are not that many visitors that come through it physically.

That is,..they rent the space, along with the development centre.

I ask them about marketing: “ We do not market the centre it is marketed by the Bank we administer the centre. We could have worked on the mix, and had advisors involved. We make our money by renting facilities.”

I leave to go down to the development centre.

“I need to ask about marketing” I say to the director as he appears.

I gather there is no reason why local authorities should run a tourist service, but you can increase business activity visitors increase.

The centre has thought of charging a fee, or simply footing the cost out of taxpayer’s money.
“We prefer an income to spend on marketing,” he says, “it is more transparent that way.”

Providers pay a fee to be in the bank, which makes and distributes the brochures, map and book, keep them updated, run the web and take care of bookings.

The fee system finances transport to some extent.

The more successful people are the more they pay. That is the way it works.
That is the advantage of the booking system.
There is a pay per booking charge, so the more you book, the higher the total fee to the Bank.

He bank can produce statistics for the travel planning based on the booking system
Pay as you go is better.

“How do you encourage individuals to put courses on?” I ask.
“They register the courses in the system.”
“And how do you know if they turn up.” I reply.

“You do not know until they have registered, but the Bank takes telephone and internet bookings.
And you charge as you go, if no-one turns up to the course it costs nothing.”

“What about wages etc? Many of these people have regular jobs perhaps,” I wonder.

“We have a company in a company solution. We pay the person wages as temporarily employed.
If they are employed with us we pay them minus our fee, our booking fees and taxes.
If they have a company they send up a bill for their services.
It lowers the barriers to entry to encourage people to try new things.”

The tourism development office part of the development office offers training in how to connect tourism and training and how to run courses etc.
It also conducts market surveys.

They offer more courses than they have customers for, so hey offer a wide choice which they can develop as they gain more experience in what customers need.

“How do you ensure the success of the business model?” I ask still unsure of how this would make money.

“Costs for project will pay back in three years.”

“Break even in two and then the hand-over which is not yet decided “

They could continue running the development centre from Tourist office fees or find and other model.

The bank is profitable and was almost from the beginning.
In working together with local companies they share the risk.

The Director says: ”The building facilities management firms were very helpful.”

I thank the Director for his time and run up the escalator to return to the departure area.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Characteristics of sustainability: reflections

A friend writes:

I live across from a park, and just in front of my house the municipality planted a bunch of new plants. The plants were small and people were walking across the plants in order to get to the park instead of using the designated entry points. This of course damaged the plants feeding into the spiral of walking through the plants, damaging the plants, getting into the park at points other than the designated ones.....

Now, one might think that people do not care and that was my first thought. But my wife bought a yellow tape and put it across the place where people were getting into the park and the people stopped going through it!

Now the tape is not a physical obstacle nor an enforceable one. Maybe people are not paying attention, maybe they only need to be reminded, that the fate of the little plants was in their hands and that they could save them by just taking three more steps.

This example confirms that:
- Existing technology is sufficient
- Sustainable development is actually very simple
- It requires a new attitude to combining and multi-use
- Most people have no problem understanding it

and that indeed working to bring these issues to the forefront of our minds is a necessary activity.

So please make a start by involving your friends in


Sunday, August 08, 2004

Answering questions about Centres of Well-Being

IFTSP has been asked to penetrate the residual questions that came up during verifications. These are detailed above, covering transport, business model etc. The visualisation of Centres of Well-being is described in the earlier blogg. Follow the link below.

Tapescript: visit to Centres of Well-Being with Questions

I am standing in the departure lounge. The lift is as it was before. I push “go there” I jump on the moving pavement. Windows on either side, the one on the right says “PORENA” on the left “Under Construction:”

I like the idea of walking over the ground to allow nature a continuum for spread of wild animals, seeds etc.

I arrive at the escalator, descend, go round the fountain and straight into the development office. Eying the green sofa from last time I ring the bell on the desk and ask to speak to the development officer, who comes out with a friendly “Hi, Sit Down”.

“I am interested in how transport works, and how large is the area?”

The Director explains it is 30 km in radius, as a semi-circle, but the centre of a circle is possible too.

The development officer’s suggestion is to go and try something instead of asking questions so off I go.

I step into the “BANK” or tourist office.

“What do you want to do?”

“I want to get away from it all, to quietness.”

A brochure rack offers up a selection of retreats.

One is a castle surrounded by water.

Another with a name like “Festi”, another decorated with white rose-petals.

I choose the one with roses; they have a boating pond, meditation rooms, quiet gardens, paths in the forest. No mobile phones are allowed. They have a library and television room How to get there: taxi.

I go out to the taxi- rank and ask the fare. The taxi driver explains that fares are subsidised and it is SEK 50 (not quite £4 pounds).

I ask the taxi-driver to explain how to get around in the area.

“With mobile phones and 30Km radius there is no problem.”

The cabs are subsided, the money coming from a reduction in the bus service, and there is a cab-sharing scheme. Cabs are required to wait 10 minutes as a condition of the subsidy (unless the passenger does not want to share).

I leave the taxi-rank and go past the exhibition tunnel. It presents a prehistoric park, how do I get there then - taxi?

I go past the map, which is presented in the courtyard with the fountain, to look at it again. I try to verify the size on the map. It does seem to cover a semi-circle of 30km radius.

These nodes or intersections interest me. Retreats are away from the nodes, but connected to the path system. For concerts etc, special transport is put on.

For courses, etc?

I see that all transport goes through the central area. They use mini-busses on different routes. These run in time with courses and bring you back to the central area. If you are staying a long way away from the event you want to attend you go back to the centre and take the bus out to where you are staying.

So, that seems to be the answer. During the high season at least, a combination of taxis and scheduled mini-busses all going from the central area serve well-being seeker’s needs. It has to be centralised to work, of course.

There is a printed guide to accompany the map. The deliverables are the map, the guide and the brochures – all available on the Internet as well. On the back of the map there is advertising for various activities.

My personal trainer turns up; “How’s it going? Any Questions?”

I ask him about getting around.

“Cycling is good. Good exercise. You can rent bikes from the central transport area, rainwear as well. The idea is to tempt you away from the busses and taxis.”

Yeah but can I cycle 30 km I am thinking.

“If you cycle fast 30km takes an hour,” he says.

Not me…. I think but say instead,” Does a company run the personal trainer system? “

“We are first certified by the local authority and rent places there. The health centre is multi- use and used for rehabilitation as well.”

Back at the development Centre: “I thought you’d be back!” says the Director.

“Let me check this with you. All transport is centred around one point, walking, cycling, taxi and mini- bus are used.“

“That’s right.”

“What about accommodation?”

“ If it is not a retreat, a lot is in the central area. If you want to tour around you stay here. If you have a car, you can go to one of the hotels outside. Then there is the left luggage system. All hotels will hold you luggage for you as you go away for a few days.”

“How did you persuade the Taxi companies to go along with this?” I wonder.

“It was easy, subsidy and licence to use the centre the contract was awarded on the condition they provided a certain level of service, plus the sharing.

Same system for the busses, awarding contracts. It was difficult to work out routes. They had to keep a spare mini-bus in case we had a load of people waiting.

That was the reason we had the transport co-ordinator office down there, to gather knowledge about routes and generally sort things out.”

“Why 30 km?”

Because activities are centralised, it had to be small enough to be managed from one place, small enough to have its own character, but large enough to be able to offer a full selection of well-being promoting activities and services.

(Tape session interrupted)

Friday, August 06, 2004

Questions about the invention "Centres of Wellbeing"

Questions for verification and further investigation: Centre of well-being

1) How big should the area be? It seems to me it should be the size you can get on a map and how big is that? At the same time it should be big enough to be able to offer enough variety.
2) How would this WORK exactly. I am a visitor, I come to the area. I stay at the hotel in the central part. How do I get to these retreats, places offering exercise, schools taken over for adult courses? If I walk what about my luggage? If I take the car it seems it is an economic barrier and not open to all?
3) Business model … who pays whom for what in terms of marketing, booking services etc. What is public sector financed and what is private (and voluntary?)

Click the link below to come to the description of what a Centre could look like.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Reflections: The Centre of Well-being

I am actually surprised by the simplicity of the solution – basing everything around a map! And simplicity is also a necessity.
The other thing is that there is no new technology in this. Like many others involved in making a sustainable future we see that existing technology is sufficient.
I am also struck by the repeated theme “what do you want to do?”, it could almost be a cornerstone of the marketing for the area. Your wellbeing …what do you want to do?
The other strong association coming out of this is how important the local authority is. Without a set up project being run centrally I cannot see it working

I was personally struck by how I as a visitor was “pulled in”. By arranging the information around “what do you want to do” instead of “what is there” and by having a personal trainer just available to chat to without it costing … I realised I myself would like a program like this and have never ever thought about it before.
( I wonder if you could use the visualising techniques to meet your own personal trainer! That would be the cheapest….)
End of Relflections, the Centre of Well-Being
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