Dear Colleagues, I am not sure if the time on this focused discussion is up, but it would be too bad if it was, because I feel there is much to discuss and the discussion here has been continual and robust.
[***Moderator's Note: Although today is the last day of the focused discussion, the GKD List is ongoing (and has been for over 7 years); we will continue to post messages relating to the theme of "Technology, Globalization and the Poor" after today, as well as more general submissions.***] When I fist read your article Shahid, I thought you were referring to ecological sustainability. Reading it more carefully I now see you are talking about financial sustainability. However many say the same truth also applies to the development of ecologically and socially sustainable projects. I know there are at least a few of us here who are concerned with the social, ecological as well as financial issues of sustainability. In America, we refer to this as the triple bottom line. In terms of what we at OVF <www.onevillagefoundation.org> are shooting for, we want an integrated model for rural or urban (what do we actually mean by rural) development that is community oriented. There are several missing gaps I have seen in these email exchanges that focus on these two areas: 1. The important social and community aspects of sustainability 2. A whole systems approach to sustainability as mentioned below Andrew Kean previously worked for a leading eco-think tank in America called Rocky Mountain Institute. He explains the importance of whole systems thinking, specially looking at the development of the Factor Ten Engineering movement in the engineering field: http://www.rmi.org/sitepages/pid1081.php Factor 10X engineering is based on a proactive approach and optimistic outlook despite the challenges. An influential book - Factor Four <http://www.ecouncil.ac.cr/rio/focus/report/english/wupprtal.htm> suggested that large productivity gains are possible, that it is possible to double output while halving resource consumption. Factor Ten is based on a revision of this by Friedrich Schmidt-Bleek of the Wuppertal Institute <http://www.wupperinst.org/> of Germany who suggested that in developed countries factor four was unlikely to be enough. Professionals from governmental, industrial and academic institutions met in Carnoules, France <http://www.techfak.uni-bielefeld.de/~walter/f10/declaration94.html> to further define Factor Ten in 1994. This is known as the declaration of the Factor 10 club. The phrase factor ten, comes from the realization that globally, the material turnover (per unit of production) needs to be drastically reduced in order to ensure sustainable resources use and ultimately survival of industrial society. They noted that to address adverse ecological and the associated health and social affects of modernization to sustainable levels, we would need to reduce the current human footprint by around a factor of TEN. Large gains in resource productivity are achieved by a shift in thinking, by an integration of management, technological and process improvements. Attention is directed not only to the manufacture of products and delivery of services but to consideration of the way your products and services are designed, produced, packaged, transported, sold, used and disposed of <http://www.factorten.co.uk/> While we at oneVillage Foundation are not engineers we feel that we have a grasp on the necessary changes that need to take place to make human systems sustainable over the next few years. 1. Introduce pedagogic tools on whole system design. The first stage of our program is aimed at developing Community and Technology centers to provide hands-on experiences in the design of sustainable systems for the grassroots/bottom up economy starting with communities we have identified in Africa to be the first sites for Unity Centers. Our proposed Open and Distance Learning Program will teach Africans to develop and evolve sustainability concepts based on their own local perspectives and needs. 2. The next step involves exploring case studies/best practices on whole systems design that are relevant to local needs. Sustainable systems will be designed to boost resource productivity and replicate them at the community level, first in the centers and then expanding to the surrounding community or communities, using factor ten or similar methodologies in all aspects of human design and development. 3. Develop financially profitable self-sustaining economies at the local rural level to encourage local production empowering local economies and mitigate unsustainable global trade flows of capital and resources. All social initiatives do not need to be financially viable but they have to be aligned with cross sector partners who will see a reason to fund these projects indefinitely. I see a model that might fit your needs and concerns. It is not so much an issue of whether a project is of a purely business nature so much as the reality that the money has to come from somewhere and I think we would all prefer that capital flow be sustainable and not interrupted. The core issue is not financial sustainability but financial stability and local empowerment. Many current projects are not financially sustainable and they are dependent on funding from affluent countries. Now I am not necessarily against this but I do feel that it needs to be a system that is more accountable, more direct, focusing on "end-to-end human services" rather than on sustaining bloated, inefficient and highly centralized bureaucracies with high overhead. With ICT, we can enable networks that make the bottom-up economy empower the grassroots in emerging markets but also the grassroots in affluent countries. This is what we call at oneVillage a multi-track approach because it considers the complementary (rather than adversarial) nature/relationships of people in both the affluent and non-affluent worlds and explore how we can work together through the development of end-to-end human services. I would say the donor driven ideology is problematic in the development field because it encourages a disconnect to emerge between the people who are served and people who provide the funding, organize the projects and design and build them. It also encourages a dependency mentality whereby people spend much time filling out grant proposals and all the associated paper work. This from my perspective has a very limited ROI and actually inhibits our creative and innovative capacity to find solutions and effectively more forward in reaching our ambitious sustainable development goals. An alternative non-profit subsidy framework could involve using ICT to develop a research database to outline the costs of the current globalization model and to evaluate the economic, social and ecological sustainability of existing capital and resource flows. For example, because Ghana faced a high debt load in the 80s, it was forced to increase the export of natural resources and much of this was not ecologically sustainable as the forest cover dwindled. Now if these transnational trade flows were deemed unsustainable (as most are), then a tax would be levied on that product or service. Consumers in affluent countries would then more accurately pay the full ecological and social cost of that product. This fee would go to defray and mitigate the costs of these unsustainable practices possibly building rural development/empowerment centers. The emphasis would not be on profitability but on developing local social enterprises that would provide local services using ICT to build capacity through education, health and improved agricultural practices, and to promote the sustainable management of natural resources. They might actually be profitable in many cases with the money plowed into the replication/expansion of these sustainable prototypes. Their focus would be on addressing local ecological degradation such as biodiversity loss, soil loss, water loss, desertification, and loss of cultural identity through tree planting, land preservation, carbon sequestration and sustainable agriculture, etc. Jeff Buderer oneVillage Foundation Sustainable Design/Project Development www.onevillagefoundation.org www.onevillage.biz http://blog.onevillage.tv Cell 408.813.5135 Yahoo IM: jefbuder http://www.ryze.com/go/Jefbuder ------------ This DOT-COM Discussion is funded by USAID's dot-ORG Cooperative Agreement with AED, in partnership with World Resources Institute's Digital Dividend Project, and hosted by GKD. http://www.dot-com-alliance.org and http://www.digitaldividend.org provide more information. To post a message, send it to: <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> To subscribe or unsubscribe, send a message to: <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>. 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