‘GreenPrints’ is a program designed to help civil society groups and interested government authorities understand, and take very practical steps towards creating governance structures to help us live within healthy ecological limits. This approach has been created by AELA to fill an important gap, because while we have ‘blueprints’ to document the design of building and engineering projects, we don’t yet have effective ‘greenprints’ for helping us construct Earth centred human societies and economies that can nurture the Earth community and flourish in a post carbon, climate changed world. Sustainability is critically important, but few communities really know how to be fully sustainable and live within their ecological limits.
GreenPrints has three key objectives: to create a practical and easy-to-use approach for building truly sustainable societies in Australia; to showcase the approach through practical pilot projects with civil society groups; and to develop a long-term advocacy plan to help civil society organisations, local governments, State governments and the Federal government understand and implement the approach.
Why don’t our towns and communities already live within their ecological limits?
Modern, industrialised countries like Australia are built on legal and economic ideas from the past. Since the Industrial Revolution, modern societies have created a pro-growth economic system, this means we use up and destroy our natural environment rather than have a society and an economy that ensures we regenerate and replenish the living world upon which we depend. The full impacts of living beyond our safe ecological limits can be seen through symptoms such as runaway climate change, biodiversity loss and the loss of clean water and healthy soils.
What this all means is that living within limits is new and challenging for our governance and legal systems. Our existing governance systems – our institutions, regulatory systems, environmental laws and ‘environmental management tools’ – are all built to support, or only gently mitigate, human-centred growth, and are not yet sufficiently sophisticated or in tune with the Earth Community to help us live within our limits. While the 1970s and 1980s saw very important developments in theories and rhetoric about ‘sustainable development’ – including the Australian focus on ‘ecologically sustainable development’ – by the early 21st Century, the escalating deterioration of the health of the natural world has proven that these concepts, and humanity’s efforts to implement these concepts, have failed to protect or nurture environmental health.
Created from an Earth centred perspective, GreenPrints aims to make it easier for people to understand their ecological limits, and to work with their head, heart and hands, to create the culture, ethic and societal rules, to work towards degrowth where necessary, and then to implement a steady-state economy for the long term. The approach is designed to offer hope and alternative ways forward.