State of the World 2008: Beyond the Book

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For 25 years, Worldwatch Institute’s State of the World reports have helped guide concerned citizens, policymakers, business innovators, and others toward sustainable solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. This year, State of the World 2008: Innovations for a Sustainable Economy outlines the innovations that are helping to create a global economy that serves both people and the planet.

These innovations include microfinance, closed-loop manufacturing, large-scale renewable energy, carbon markets, biodiversity banking, sustainable communities, and the use of trusts to protect common resources, among many others. Innovators—from top-ranked businesses to everyday citizens—are rethinking conventional notions of economic progress, identifying obstacles that block sustainable economic activity and rallying coalitions to produce strategies for achieving specific sustainability goals.

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Sustainable Economies

In Chapter 1 of State of the World 2008, project co-directors Gary Gardner and Tom Prugh highlight seven principles of a sustainable global economy, which underlie the work of innovation pioneers concerned about environmental degradation and widening income inequality:

  1. Adjust the scale of economic activity to fit within boundaries set by the natural environment
  2. Make prices tell the ecological truth, by incorporating environmental costs into the price of goods and services
  3. Shift the goal of economies from growth to development, by focusing on generating greater levels of well-being
  4. Account for nature’s economic contributions through a full assessment and valuation of nature’s services
  5. Apply the precautionary principle to economic activity
  6. Revitalize ancient principles of commons management to govern resource use in an increasingly crowded world
  7. Properly value the extensive contributions women make to any economy