One Planet Living - a practical solution

Securing a sustainable and equitable future through One Planet Living

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

one planet_0 One Planet Living is a positive vision of a world in which we are living happy, healthy lives within the natural limits of the planet – wherever we live in the world – having left sufficient space for wildlife and wilderness. At BioRegional they know that One Planet Living is possible.

Working with partners they have developed cost effective working examples of sustainable communities and businesses which show One Planet Living in practice. And from this experience they have developed a simple approach and sustainability framework based on ten principles, which enables others to implement One Planet Living.

An international framework

The One Planet Living framework is being used formally in projects and initiatives in 12 countries: Australia, Canada, China, France, Greece, Ireland, Mexico, Portugal, South Africa, UK, United Arab Emirates and USA. An on-line toolkit, available since 2010, has been used in at least 40 other countries.

Globally, the rate at which we are consuming resources and pumping out pollutants is racing way ahead of the Planet’s ability to replenish or absorb them. To put this another way, we are now consuming the equivalent of 1.5 planet’s worth of resources each year – whatever way you define sustainability, this is not it. We are seeing this through the impacts of climate change, disappearing forests, over-exploited fisheries and the loss of biodiversity on a massive, and rapid scale.

The forests that are being destroyed, with palm oil for biofuels, etc., being one huge catalyst in this factor of lack of ability to absorb pollutants. Not that forests can absorb all the pollutants in the first place but they do a good job on CO2.

Around the world people consume at different rates. If everyone in the world lived like the average European we’d need three planets to support us and yet a citizen of Bangladesh uses the equivalent of a third of a planet. The fact is, however, that we have but this one Planet and thus must find a way of living within its limits oif resources and carrying capacity.

Many people find One Planet Living an easy way to understand sustainability. Rio+20 is the perfect opportunity to let it “float up” and be used more widely.

All countries need to make a plan to achieve One Planet Living within the limits and time frame that the science and morality tells us is necessary and the Rio+20 process can, probably, give us the opportunity to stimulate this sort of national one planet living uptake. The only concern that I am having is to whether the opportunity is going to be taken, for it is countries that need to some aboard and not just individuals, however many that may be.

BioRegional's aim for this is simple and the first one is to see that policy solutions to overcome global barriers to achieving One Planet Living form a component of any global treaty or policies that come out of Rio+20. And the second point is that countries from both the developed and developing world produce plans to enable their citizens to achieve One Planet Living by 2030 which they pledge to institute at Rio+20. The, in Bioregional's vision, ideal outcome would be that forty countries (20% of all member states) pledge to institute One Planet Living plans. Personally, I cannot see that happening and the aim, really, must also be much higher.

The problem is that the developed nations think that they can buy environmental indulgences, aka carbon credits, and then carry on with the BAU model while the developing nations will, as per usual, stand there and state that they want development for their citizens and thus will not reduce anything either.

Hello, people! We only have ONE Planet and its resources are limited and we must cut back now before we will be forced to cut back in a totally and uncontrollable way.

How is BioRegional attempting to achieve this aim?

First of BioRegional is trying to do this by convening a high level dialogue to draw out global solutions to barriers to one planet living and and submit them in time for consideration in the “zero draft” of the treaty.

Secondly by developing prototype national one planet plans working alongside progressive countries and locally based organisations from both the developed and developing world.

Third by enabling others to achieve One Planet Living by offering tools and advice, building on BioRegional’s existing toolkit which has been used in 51 countries.

And forth but not least by launching a public campaign using real life One Planet Living case studies, as inspiration for people to make their own personal One Planet Living commitments and to let decision makers know what they are expecting from them.

BioRegional are inviting civil society groups, individuals, businesses and organisations to come on that journey with them and to shape its destination and they want to make One Planet Living the central thread woven through the global, regional, national and local actions on the pathway to societies and economies that live and operate within the carrying capacity of our world. With your support and commitment we all can create a One Planet Living world.

Sustainability based on what we consume

One Planet Plans differ from current national sustainable development plans in that they will be based on what citizens consume – taking in the wider picture – and set out where we need to get to, namely “One Planet Living”. We just cannot continue with the BAU model in that we go on consuming and consuming and increasing our consumption in order to make the economy grow. There is no more room for expansion. We must, in fact, retract rather than expand, and our wants must become needs.

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© 2011