What use are the SDGS if there is global failure on every one of them?

Writing on his blog, Professor Jem Bendell explains the recent letter from scholars to the UN’s disaster event.

Professor Bendell says the SDGs represent a “failing approach, with all the indicators heading in the wrong direction”.

The UN reports countries have gone backwards on most of them. That is even before the inflation, energy and food polycrises of 2022. This failure was predicted at the outset, by scholars who identified the impossibility of promoting ecologically-demanding consumer lifestyles as the means of progress for all. 

Says Bendell: “Our main proposal is that we all stop pretending that we can grow economies, reduce poverty and avert environmental disasters.”

As we have outlined here in this blog earlier, there needs to be a general acceptance of resource limits and a systematic approach to providing quality of life within planetary boundaries. The current disciplines of economics and public management along with the democratic system are inadequate for the task.

The systemic approach outlined in this blog’s earlier posts might provide a better start.

Please Nippon Steel, don’t cut these woods! Update.

My letter pleading with Nippon Steel to reverse the decision to log Ovakos forest, close to Hofors town was premature. Ovako have reversed their decision

Lissjön woods with the lake in the background

Update! They didn’t cut the woods down.

We just heard that Ovako, subsidiary of Nippon steel, just announced that they will not cut the forest.

Continue reading “Please Nippon Steel, don’t cut these woods! Update.”

Real Capital: needs regenerating not depleting for profit

This E-book, produced from earlier writings, attempts to explain how Real
Capital – a cornerstone of the means of production – gets depleted by the
current system. Rather the creating a platform for future prosperity, the
system is removing the very things that coming generations need to be able
to provide for themselves.


The hope is that this short paper will clarify for policy makers where systemic
changes need to be made, and where the changes need to be put in place
to drive an industry-led transition to the circular economy.

Download the report here.

Regenerating Society One “Cell” at a Time

Guest post by Steve Hamm

Bridge Street in Humboldt (early morning)

Ten years ago, Humboldt, Kansas, was a lot like thousands of small towns across the United States. Economic and social shifts had left the once-booming downtown feeling eerily abandoned. Walmart stores had opened up to the north and south of town, “sucking the life out,” as one local man put it. A highway bypass had been built. And, because of mechanization, the many farms in the area required fewer workers. As a result, many storefronts were empty and the town population was dwindling.

But the residents of this town of 1900 people didn’t give up. The area economy was actually quite sound. There were three successful industries—farming, a cement plant, and a fast-growing trailer hitch company. It was the downtown and the sense of wellbeing that needed a shot of adrenaline. That boost is now being provided by Joe Works, the founder and CEO of B&W Trailer Hitches, and a group of young people, mostly made up of his children, who launched an initiative called A Bolder Humboldt aimed at making the town a vibrant place to live and visit. “Why should people have to move elsewhere to enjoy the nicer things in life? Why can’t they have all those things in a small town in the Midwest?” says Joe.

Continue reading “Regenerating Society One “Cell” at a Time”

The circular economy neighbourhood

Sweden, like many countries, is pursuing the circular economy as a path to decarbonization, to the bio-economy and to ensure their economy has enough material resources. Apart from the climate emergency, pressure from population increases and rising standards are about to create inevitable material shortages. Still developing, the idea of circular economy begs us to envision a circular home, a circular neighbourhood and circular municipality. This article explores what a circular economy neighbourhood might look like, and how a cooperative model might help accelerate the transition in Sweden. The ideas may, of course, apply to other countries.

Continue reading “The circular economy neighbourhood”

The sustainable future-a riveting read?

Whilst we are longing for the sustainable future we are flooded with visions fashioned from concrete and steel, albeit covered with green. In these visions people seem to be doing nothing and going nowhere. Can we conjure forth a vision so attractive, cool and magnetic it just pulls us into that future?

Continue reading “The sustainable future-a riveting read?”

Show us the evidence we are in a safe zone

Thought for #COP26. The graph shows CO2 hovering around 275 ppm throughout the time weather patterns allowed agriculture. And 180 – 280ppm all the time humans have been on Earth. What evidence is there we are in a safe zone and can continue?

If there is no evidence that we are safe, surely a mitigation and restabilization plan is needed?

Regional policy implications of the circular economy

As circular economy thinking takes hold among policy makers, civil servants and scientists, policy is tending towards circular as a strategy to reach environmental objectives.  Hopes are that  production systems will continue to deliver and indeed grow economically, but with far less material and fossil energy intensity. The Swedish Government formed its own Circular Economy Delegation last year and recently announced its national strategy for the Circular Economy  and 100 measures to transition to circularity.

Policy needs to align, but this raises questions. The economy is a complex adaptive system, and any intervention may cause the opposite of the intended effects. This article explores my own very personal reflections based on earlier work together with my recent work with the local university.  

Continue reading “Regional policy implications of the circular economy”

Not targets but U-turns: reflections on the IPCC report

Released today, the report, which summarises scientists’ understanding of what is happening with climate change, warns that Earth will unavoidably hit the critical threshold of 1.5°C warming due to climate change within the next 20 years. This is a combination of natural processes and human emissions. This is regardless of how radically global governments cut greenhouse gas emissions. This article urgently proposes a new framing approach: a pivot.

Continue reading “Not targets but U-turns: reflections on the IPCC report”

John Kerry, envoy for the climate, tells it by not telling it

On January the 21 st John Kerry, now the special presidential envoy for climate, presented a new direction for the US climate strategy. All friends of sustainability will be heartened by his comments that the US will move forward with humility and ambition. What he didn’t talk about is perhaps less heartening.

Continue reading “John Kerry, envoy for the climate, tells it by not telling it”