If we can achieve a shift in attitudes and behaviours supported and cemented by mandatory agreements, then we will see changes at multiple levels. If exports from minerals decline further in Australia we will need a new base upon which to grow national wealth going forward.
Globally the primary opportunities (across all themes) include the acceleration of current approaches and undertaking more research into renewable energy sources, products and services to replace fossil fuels. Supporting this will be a drive for changes in consumption patterns and changes in accumulation of material status symbols but, with the current desire for greater personal wealth evidently in full force, this may take longer than the next decade to course-correct. More immediately we may see increased IT enabled transparency in traditional industrial processes and greater collaboration between firms across different sectors and between firms within sectors all focused on tangible but significant shifts in priorities and activities.
As the Stockholm Resilience Institute has highlighted, there are nine so called planetary boundaries – areas where we are in danger of exceeding the Earth’s natural thresholds. Ideally these should not be overstepped if mankind is to continue to live on earth in a viable manner. However we have already lept over three of these boundaries – climate change, biodiversity and the nitrogen cycle. Without fundamental and significant global shifts now, and not tomorrow, we stand little chance of regaining the balance. A more informed, better understood, clearly communicated and socially embedded view of how we use and reuse our resources is imperative.