20 Actions

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What do we need to reach a sustainable society?

After exploring challenges and opportunities in their areas of expertise, each author recommended one key action that could steer our society towards sustainability for 2020. This Twenty Actions table is the key to the book.



Individual Actions

1. ENGAGE PERSONALLY Engage in community activism and monitor resource use and impact of lobbying.

2. OWN LESS Choose to reduce ownership of 'things' and the size of homes.

3. REDUCE WASTE Reduce waste in supply chains, by choosing aesthetically imperfect food and low-impact packaging; reduce personal waste; and support food rescue for disadvantaged communities.


Build local capacity to effect change and reduce carbon footprints

Housing will become more affordable and energy consumption will decrease.

Greater food security to feed an increasing population.

Sustainable Outcome

Decision-making through coalitions of governments and grassroots movements.

Denser cities, requiring shorter commutes and easier access to greenspace; more sharing and fewer 'things'.

Less on-farm wastage; reduce income gap between rural and urban and address 'nutritional ghettoes' in cities.


Business Actions

4. CORE VALUES Integrate sustainability into core business culture to reduce risk and enhance brand and reputation.

5. LABELS Provide product labelling that is digestible, unbiased and trustworthy.

6. INNOVATIVE DESIGN Lead globally-innovative design of technologies to reduce GHG emissions and buildings modelled on ecological principles, integrating vegetation and built environment.

7. CREATE ZERO CARBON LANDSCAPES Strategically revegetate targeted areas, creating mixed forests and farmland.

8. DESIGN FOR CLIMATE CHANGE Design infrastructure to account for impacts of climate change.

9. REDUCE DISASTER RISKS Minimise disaster impacts and inequities eg, by studying likely impacts of climate change on Indigenous-owned land and developing plans and kits for every household, workplace and community.


Greater business stability and profitability for the long-term.

More informed consumer choices, more effective purchasing.

More efficient use of sun, water and other natural resources. Incorporation of plants and green spaces for food, cooling, carbon capture and recreation.

Significantly increase carbon storage capacity, improve ecosystem functions and services, diversify rural economies.

More robust assets that will serve the community over the long term.

Anticipate and minimise impacts of disasters; make disaster-risk assessment part of planning.

Sustainable Outcome

Corporate leadership; greater employer satisfaction; slower product model redundancy.

Preventative health reducing healthcare costs; address health and obesity; accelerated the shift to sustainable products.

Improved physical and mental health; reduced health costs and increased productivity; contribute to climate stabilization.

Some mitigation of climate change; enhanced wellbeing of rural communities.

Make cities more efficient and less vulnerable to disaster; market and sell solutions internationally.

Reduce direct costs and indirect impacts eg, personal trauma and increasing inequity, from increasingly frequent disasters associated with growing population density and climate change.


Government Actions

10. TEACH ETHICS Introduce courses in sustainability ethics in schools.

11.TAX NON-RENEWABLES Resource tax on all non-renewable resources.

12. MARKET WATERIntroduce water-trading based on markets and property rights for environmental, rural and urban needs.

13. GO SOLAR Make a commitment to large solar, wind and energy storage installations with emphasis on large-scale solar.

14. PROVIDE CHILDCARE Provide universal and affordable childcare.

15. VALUE CULTURE Develop frameworks for, and measure impacts of, cultural programs on sustainability.

16.PROMOTE TRANSPORT PYRAMID Provide a public awareness campaign on healthy transport based upon the transport pyramid.

17. RESTORE ECOSYSTEMS Establish an international Ecosystem Restoration Service.

18. PLAN FOR POPULATION Increase investment in new public infrastructure like water, transport, energy and communications.


Create a more ethical basis (rather than financial) for intergenerational decisions.

Accelerate substitution of non-renewable resources with green technologies.

Allow inter-sector trading and more transparent water prices, without political interference.

Shift to renewable energy at acceptable cost.

Enable low-income families to fully participate in the workforce.

Improved assessment of value of cultural programs.

Changes in attitudes and behaviour to different modes of transport.

Restore natural ecosystem function to 20 per cent of deforested areas.

Greater efficiency in public-resource usage.

Sustainable Outcome

Promote a moral community based on non-GDP measures of wellness.

Create globally competitive technologies, likely to cause new stimulation of economy.

Provide greater imperative for better technological and economic decisions for the provision of infrastructure and water for the environment.

Reduce carbon pollution; create new industries; vitalise rural areas while addressing negative economic impacts on others eg, communities in coal basins.

Reduce inequity; increase productivity; increase educational aspirations.

Stimulate cultural support for societal change, leading to increased govt commitment to cultural programs.

Greater demand for public transport, separated bikeways, community car ownership, improved health; significant reduction in carbon pollution.

Help society adapt to climate change by working with the natural environment and reducing our exposure to future risks.

Improved management of demands made by population growth.


Media Actions

19. ACT RESPONSIBLY Factor sustainability into media coverage, explore the issues, lead debates and find ways to engage the community; for eg, raise awareness of city growth, its inevitability and consequences.

20. INVOLVE PUBLIC Establish a not-for-profit national virtual forum capable of synthesising public wisdom.


An informed public can make informed decisions and exert pressure on governments, corporates and indeed the media itself to think sustainably.

Bring deliberative democracy to major sustainability issues.

Sustainable Outcome

Will help get each of the key participants of society working in tandem towards a better outcome for all.

Enable governments to make wiser, faster decisions on path to sustainability and be less swayed by weekly opinion polls.

Cartoons by Michael Weldon