Paul Gilding and the sustainability revolution

“The global economy has now hit its ecological and resource limits so it can grow no more, triggering the global ecological and economic crisis now unfolding as the current system breaks down. The exciting thing about this moment is that the crisis presents an historic and exciting opportunity to build a new approach to economic and social development for humanity.”  

Last week I attended a presentation by Paul Gilding titled “The Sustainability Revolution – Coming soon to an economy near you.” He did not deliver any ground breaking ideas but did provide a very succinct and thought provoking insight into the global ecological and economic crisis that, in his opinion, will lead to a period of major global economic transformation – what he calls The Great Disruption.

Paul is an independent writer, advisor and advocate for action on climate change and sustainability. An activist and social entrepreneur for 35 years, his personal mission and purpose is to lead, inspire and motivate action globally on the transition of society and the economy to sustainability.

Paul believes the system is flawed and needs to be changed.  Based on historical examples the human race can change and when faced with a crisis we have: “when humans respond we respond extraordinarily.” I believe that humans will adapt – but at great cost. We need to limit the damage of the Great Disruption. The sooner we adapt the better.

Paul believes the current global financial crisis is bringing into sharp relief the idiocy of our consumer culture and the unsustainability of our economic model. In a way the crisis can be regarded as a blessing because the sooner we face up to this, the less suffering there will ultimately be. The financial crisis may be the short sharp shock can help us to wake up.

In a recent article Paul quotes the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author Tom Friedman: 

Let’s today step out of the normal boundaries of analysis of our economic crisis and ask a radical question: What if the crisis of 2008 represents something much more fundamental than a deep recession? What if it’s telling us that the whole growth model we created over the last 50 years is simply unsustainable economically and ecologically and that 2008 was when we hit the wall — when Mother Nature and the market both said: “No more.”

At a dinner party recently I had a conversation with two friends in which they commented, jokingly, on how humans have been living on the earth for thousands of years. There have been many generations of humans but it is our generation that is here when everything is coming to head – and there is something exciting about that, exciting in that we have the opportunity to change.

Paul was brilliant at articulating the need to change. He was also brilliant at inspiring confidence in the fact that we will change. We need a revolution from the bottom up. We need to have faith that this is the way forward- because we have to.

It is due to Paul’s extremely personal approach used to present his ideas that I have referred to him by his first name and not by his last. I think for Paul this is important as he believes the solution lies in ordinary people – not hard core academics, business leaders or politicians – taking up the challenge of climate change, adapting at an individual level and contributing to the groundswell necessary to incite a revolution for a sustainable future.

Information about Paul and the Great Disruption is available on his personal website:

How can we communicate this need for change? How can we instill a faith that this is the way forward? And what practical interventions can we suggest?

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