Transforming Cultures

Some 60 percent of ecosystem services (e.g., climate regulation, fresh water, waste treatment, fisheries) is being degraded or used unsustainably. The damage is the result of cultural systems that encourage people to define their happiness and success in terms of how much they consume. This tendency, coupled with unsustainable population growth rates, is overwhelming our finite planet, threatening to cause significant disruptions to Earth's climate and ecosystems, and subsequently to human civilization.
Related Publications

State of the World 2010: Transforming Cultures 

January 2010

Population, Climate Change, and Women's Lives

Report #183 | November 2010

More: Population, Nature, and What Women Want

January 2008


About Transforming Cultures

Like a tsunami, consumerism has engulfed human cultures and Earth’s ecosystems. Left unaddressed, we risk global disaster. But if we channel this wave, intentionally transforming our cultures to center on sustainability, we will not only prevent catastrophe, but may usher in an era of sustainability—one that allows all people to thrive while protecting, even restoring, Earth.

Worldwatch Institute's Transforming Cultures project turns a critical eye to how we can shift today's consumer cultures toward cultures of sustainability. The key to this transformation will lie in harnessing institutions that play a central role in shaping society—such as the media, educational services, business, governments, traditions, and social movements—to instill this new cultural orientation.

The project also seeks to bring women into educational, economic, political and health equality with men. This will require the erosion of cultural norms that promote early and frequent childbearing and expanding women's capacity to choose when to bear children. Studies show that such advances slow and eventually end population growth, allowing for more sustainable development worldwide.


State of the World 2010: Transforming Cultures  From Consumerism to Sustainability — Demonstrating the need for a shift to a culture of sustainability and illustrating how people around the world are already taking important steps

***Centre UNESCO de Catalunya, Worldwatch's Catalan partner, released its teen version of State of the World 2010, available in English, Spanish, French, and Catalan. New: Worldwatch Brazil and Institute Akuto have released the book in Portuguese as well. *** 

Population and Gender — Encouraging health and educational investments that empower women to make their own family planning decisions





The Winslow Foundation

Recent Transforming Cultures Blog Entries










On To a New Year!

Wrapping up the year - and the Transforming Cultures blog.

Nurturing a Sustainable Childhood

Worldwatch Institute Europe's releases its newest report. 

Governments Promote Planned Obsolescence, Too 

The public as well as the private sector encourages overconsumption resulting from faulty products. 

Share-Spray For All Your Community-Building Needs

A new video illustrates challenges our conventional view of possession ownership. 

Related Links 
Watch the trailer for "Mother," a documentary that highlights the need to expand women's rights to effectively and equitably address world population problems. Read Worldwatch President Robert Engelman's review.
Volume 6 of the the Berkshire Encyclopedia of Sustainability features the article "Population Indicators" by Worldwatch President Robert Engelman. In the article, Engelman calls upon policymakers to turn to key demographic indicators in crafting laws that help empower women and speed the progression towards a sustainable society for all.