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Backcasting from the future


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I’ve started to take it much more professionally now. I understand these people.

Pique: But isn’t it difficult for individuals or small companies or small towns to move toward sustainability given the obstacles built into our society? For instance, Whistler is looking at more sustainable sources of energy but it’s difficult to find practical alternatives to oil and gas and other fossil fuels. There aren’t any hydrogen-powered vehicles available right now.

K-H R: It’s like saying I’m not going to start running until I’m in good shape. We must do it step by step. That’s why we call it the Natural Step. And that’s why it’s so important to have the vision clear and then do moves that at least do not stop your ability to comply with those principles. Because that would be horrendous. It would cost a lot of money and be destructive from all points of view.

But on the other hand you must also make people realize that every sub-goal is only a sub-goal. How do you do that? By making them understand that the long-term vision is here. And then you can celebrate every sub-goal in that direction. And nobody then gets disappointed.

You can accept that certain things will take longer than others, as long as there is a systematic move in that direction.

This also makes companies and municipalities less vulnerable to criticism, when they have entered this path. Because if somebody would say ‘Oh, you’re working with sustainability issues, are you?’ And I say ‘Yes’ and they say ‘Well, look what I found in your backyard, and look at these toxins and look at this bad stuff and look at these fossil fuels’ and so forth. If you can play this game well, with confidence, you can say ‘Oh yes, and not only that, look at that problem and this problem, and you forgot to mention that is a problem. But you see we must first do this, and then we do that, and then we do this and then we do that. And by the way, we’ve already done those steps.’

So you answer in a process-oriented way. And this eventually becomes an attitude which is very comforting, very nice. It’s like living on a garbage dump, and every day it becomes a little bit more beautiful. Some more garden grows and some more trees grow and more flowers blossom and it becomes neater and neater and neater. And then people can find a very good living.

But if you live in a castle and every day it deteriorates more, and windows fall out and it becomes worse and worse, even if you never reach the garbage dump level in your lifetime it’s still downhill all the time.