Donella Meadows

Study Shows that Sustainable Development Goals Will Reduce Population Growth

Everyone knows that the UN’s 2015 Sustainable Development Goals were intended to literally make the world a better case. But a recent analysis shows how they might accomplish that in ways that may not have been expected. Based on an analysis by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and the Asian Demographic Research Institute (ADRI) at Shanghai University, achievement of these goals could result in a significant decrease in population growth.

While none of the 17 goals explicitly seek to reduce population growth, a number of them contribute to that result. The goals are aimed at fighting poverty, reducing inequality, hunger and sickness, as well as addressing climate change, while leaving nobody behind. They include enablers such as quality primary and secondary education for all children, improved sanitation, and reduced child mortality. While it may not be intuitively obvious that these actions would reduce population growth, according to this study, they will.

It’s hard to overstate the importance of this finding in the context of challenges currently threatening our continued survival on this planet. According to IIASA World Population Program Director Wolfgang Lutz, "The future of world population growth matters for our efforts to improve the human lot and our impacts on the natural environment. The sizable effect on global population growth provides an additional rationale for vigorously pursuing the implementation of the SDGs."

Chris Laszlo: Gateway to Flourishing Consciousness

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - Chris Laszlo is  an Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Fowler Center at Case Western Reserve University. He is also the Faculty Director for Research and Outreach there. He authored several books including Embedded Sustainability: The Next Big Competitive Advantage (2011), and Sustainable Value (2013). Chris also a contributed to Flourishing Enterprise(2014) along with John Ehrenfeld, Judy Brown, Roger Saillant and others from the Weatherhead School.

I managed to grab Chris for a brief but very interesting chat during the Flourish and Prosper Conference last week at Case Western Reserve University.

Justmeans: Maybe you could talk about how some of the ideas being raised at this conference relate to your work.

Chris Laszlo: John Ehrenfeld and I were reflecting this morning about the power of ideas. We have this idea that sustainability was reaching a point of diminishing returns and that we need reframing, which John has been doing. One thing really new is the idea of tying in reflective practices as a way to get people to feel more connected to each other and to the world. That leads to caring and that leads to a more robust sustainability business agenda which creates value for business and society and that raises awareness and then you’re in a virtuous circle. But it all starts with reflective practices.

JM: Reflective practices. Could you elaborate?

CL: One of the things that’s in the book is the idea that the reflective practices, like meditation, for example, are important not just because they allow us to stop multitasking and be quiet and still. Stilling the senses and getting more centered also might help us to tap into a universal consciousness. That idea hasn’t fully emerged in this conference. I don’t think people quite get that. They get that reflective practices can be essential in today’s crazy multi-tasking world. And they can see that having check-ins before meetings, having a meditation room, breaks to go outside to spend a moment in nature, can all have benefits. But why those reflective practices can lead to you feel more deeply connected to yourself, to others and to nature is still a black box to most people.

JM: Go on.

CL: New scientific discoveries are showing us that the ultimate nature of the physical universe is not materialistic, it’s not made up of billiard balls grouped together in empty space, but that  there is this interconnecting field of energy, the quantum field. And furthermore that there is an extraordinary degree of coherence at every level: at the quantum level, at the biological level and at the cosmological level. We know there are only a small number constants that constrain the dynamic balance of life. The same thing is true with the Big Bang. If the universe had had an expansion rate slightly faster it would have just flown apart, but if it were much slower, it would implode. There’s so much fine balance in the world.

JM: And this is something we might want to develop a relationship to.

CL:  I think there’s a growing view among scientists that what the great spiritual thinkers have said, in many different civilizations and many different times, that behind the material world is a spiritual world. Think of the concept of Brahma from the Vedanta, or Tao from Taoism, or Asha from Zoroastrianism, or even the Kabbalah has this notion of ein soft ,a  state beyond the ordinary.  And now you’ve got physicists like Dr. John Hagelin,  Sir Roger Penrose, and Stuart  Hammeroff, which are starting to say that consciousness itself is not this electrical activity of axions or dendrites, but actually at a much finer level, there are microtubules in the brain that are accessing quantum information.

JM: So is there something essential that we’ve been missing?

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