|Creating a New Civilization|
|Tachi Kiuchi, Chairman of The Future 500|
1. How would you describe the nature of the major transition many
In the centuries up until and including the 20th century, humanity learned how to exploit nature, how
The 21st century and beyond will require us to instill a new mindset and to learn new skills. The mindset of the tireless exploiter taming nature needs to be replaced with the mindset of the mindful innovator, working with nature to explore how to live intelligently within the absolute limit that the earth’s imposes. There was not necessarily anything wrong with our approach in previous centuries – considering the basic parameters (number of people, available land, available resources, etc.), one could even say that the approach taken was “rational.” Today, however, in a world with radically changed parameters, continuing with the same conduct would not only be highly “irrational,” it would also be dangerous and foolish. We are being tested with regards to our intelligence. Do we have the intelligence not only to see that basic parameters have changed, but to also change our behaviour drastically? What we are facing today is a massive intelligence test of homo sapiens. We have enough information at our hands (about the state of the earth); do we possess the wisdom that it takes to change?
2. What do you think are the most crucial factors to overcome current
Ｔhe key challenge is whether we can change behaviour soon enough. In more practical terms, this means whether we will be able to adapt economic, political, cultural and social systems, which display great inertia (resistance to fundamental change). Will we transform the rules underpinning global economic activity to show clearly that the only viable economy is an “ecological market economy” – one underpinned by a respect for nature and with rules reflecting that nature is the main system, the economy a subsystem? Will we transform our political structures and legislation to reflect the fact that the natural life support systems upon which we depend are not mere “externalities”, but the true “fundamentals” for any policy? Will we be able to change our cultural and social views of what the “good life” is, of the purpose of consumption thus instilling a new willingness to place value on the beauty of simplicity and to share, to learn, to co-develop with peoples around the world, transcending narrow-minded, national interests?
3. What kind of new insights and knowledge are emerging in your field
Corporations in Japan and elsewhere are now seeing that three key players in their immediate business environment not only demand, but positively encourage more sustainable business practices. First, legislation helps create a new playing field in which socially and environmentally responsible corporations are rewarded (and others punished); second, stock markets, investment banks, investment rating agencies have created rankings and indexes pointing toward a new definition of the “excellent corporation” and a new approach to the meaning of “brand value”; and, third, representatives of civil society, in particular non-profits, have shown in recent years that they will continue to serve as vigilant watchdogs, but that they are also interested in collaborating and wish to reward corporations acting proactively and innovatively.
The key challenge is to accelerate such trends and to make any corporate leader realize that the only way to build brand equity, to nurture a truly “strong” corporation is by listening to such voices in society and act, proactively and with urgency, on these. There is still not strong enough action from many companies. Too much is still lip service or half-hearted attempts at triple bottom line management.
4. What kind of positive future do you envision in your field?
When the business leader truly awakens to the fact that sustainable business is the only form of business; that protecting the environment is not a cost issue but an issue of humanity’s survival; that treating people around the world with dignity is not a choice but an absolute necessity – when such thinking becomes the standard of any business leader around the world, then I believe there will be hope. Hope of significant and continuous change driven by the strong engine of innovation and diffusion that maybe only the corporation can provide. I would like to see business leaders engaging fully and intensely, with their hearts and minds, in creating a future that is profitable not only for their own company, but for the earth and the future generations that will inhabit the earth. It is also my strong belief that such business leaders, and such corporations are the ones that will be supported in the future – they will be the winners of new business game.
5. What are some of the innovative initiatives and creative activities for change that are occurring around the world?
A multitude of activities take place around the world today. Indeed, the wisdom that we need is already being translated into action in many places. What we need to do is to become better at sharing this wisdom and these examples of positive action; to become better at learning from these examples.
6. What concrete steps can we take individually and collectively
Creating a database is first, then we need a global educational initiative which makes sustainability education part of elementary school education all over the world. In this sense, I hope that the UN Decade for Education for Sustainable Development will not be wasted, but will provide a true impetus for global educational innovation.
7. Please give a brief description of a New Civilization as you see it.
The civilization as I see it today is a civilization that “cannot fly.” We have jumped off the cliff and the only reason we are still in the air is because it is very far to the ground. The earth has great capacity and great endurance. But, now we can see the earth – and we can see that we are moving toward it at great speed. We need to learn “civilizational aerodynamics” rapidly to develop the skill to fly.
A flying civilization will be one in which no person on earth need go hungry to bed. A flying civilization will be one in which water is clean and plenty for all. How can we call our world today “civilized” when maybe 200,000 children every day die because of a lack of food and water?
A flying civilization will be one in which we can pass on the earth to our children and grandchildren with peace of mind, confident that the energy system and the resource supply systems that we have can sustain the lifestyle that our descendants would desire. How can we call ourselves “advanced” or “developed” when we do not even feel certain in being able to pass on a healthy earth to our own children?