askpv askpv at
Sun Sep 17 20:33:23 EDT 2000

Thanks for your insights Terry,
My concern here is that permaculture in boardrooms is easily redressed as
few people may know about this standard, but if you give yourselves time to
look at it you'll be impressed.
a lot of the leg work has been done and all the details necessary for
business standards is covered. (but it is simply a springboard from
which a more holistic design process can be developed)
The standard is comprehensive, international and appeals to both community
and industry in terms of
putting a price on all activities (manufacturing through to polluting).

As for a theme for IPC7 I like the 'beyond' concept even though it is early
days for our ISO projects.  Our sister company SMS has been running
for 4 years in that direction writing pioneering material actually because
there aren't many companies involved yet and they represent a narrow range.

Companies are prepared to have Environmental Management as an extension of
QA and Total Quality Management systems, and that is really encouraging.  It
means we have a system that can be tacked on; is similar in its approach to
existing QA systems and in jargon that is familiar.

what is triggering ISO's growth is two-fold:
1. litigation and preventive action,
2. value adding in terms of broadening the consumer market.)

I find it interesting that Sydney airport has had major pollution in the
air-conditioning ducts this week, such a tiny accident (spillage of cleaning
fluid in a duct)
leading to a huge litigation disaster. Nothing can be overlooked in an
Environmental Management System.  It also demonstrates how easy it would be
to plant a gas-bomb there and yet there has been high security for years,
cranked up further by the Olympics.


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NEWS: IPPC7 Raglan New Zealand. March 2002
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-----Original Message-----
From: Terry Leahy [mailto:LEAHY at]
Sent: Friday, 15 September 2000 12:15
To: IPC7 at
Subject: RE: [IPC7] theme ideas for IPC7

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Dear Permaculture Group,

I like Sharon Gordon's new suggestion - from backyards to boardrooms and
beyond because it gives a bit of an idea of the scope of permaculture
strategies rather than prioritising one as the only useful one.  I am a bit
bothered by the implication that people who may have some qualms about the
boardrooms title are warm fuzzies.  The implication is that we have moral
objections to getting interest from business because we don't like what
they do and have done.  Its also implied that we are cutting off our nose
to spite our face.  This may be true sometimes and for some people.
Personally I am really keen to see any kind of business interest or
profitable sustainable enterprise get up.  But an opposite charge could be
that people who have great optimism about the willingness of businesses to
participate in earth care are a bit warm and fuzzy when it comes to

For most managers of companies the bottom line has to be profitablity.
This is not because these guys are evil and never have any other thought in
their heads.  It's just the fact that investors ultimately determine
whether a company goes to the wall - these decisions are made by
stockbrokers and their computers.  Yeah, bring on ethical investment but
lets admit that the 5% of the population of rich countries that owns 90% of
the share capital are not that heavily into it at the moment.

Do business optimists think it is in most cases just as profitable to
operate within the parameters of sustainability as to operate without those
limitations?   All we environmentalists need to do is to point out that
mass of really profitable ways to build a sustainable economy and companies
will beat a path to our doorstep. Do you really think this???  Sure, it
makes heaps of sense to encourage this direction but lets not pretend that
in the present situation with the market that now exists, rather than the
one we'd ideally like, that it is actually true now.  For example, it is an
unfortunate fact that coal fired power is still the cheapest form of power
in most locations and that consumers don't want to buy a lot of electricity
at a higher price. It is an unfortunate fact that organic food costs more
in rich countries because of the price of the labour inputs and that at the
present time there is a limited market of people who want to pay more.  I
could go on.

I feel very worried saying all this.  I don't want permaculture to be split
by silly and unnecessary political disagreements.  I really respect people
like Simon and Steve who want to work with businesses to encourage
sustainable alternatives within companies.  I really agree with
permaculturists who are sick of working as volunteers and being pressured
ethically to do more and more of this - they should be getting a solid
income.  There are no absolutely wonderful alternatives to working with
business.  Trying to pressure governments and political parties, working
with NGOs and creating cooperatives that combine voluntary work with
business are all tried and true strategies that exist alongside working
with companies.  I certainly don't think we should sit on our hands and
wait for an anti-capitalist revolution etc etc.  I suppose that what
finally got me writing about this was the implication that a hard nosed
realistic position is working with business and anything else is naive,
self sacrificing and ineffective. It's not true; a spirit of self sacrifice
and stupid naivety is not the sole property of any of the various
strategies for improving the global environment!

In terms of a speaker I would like us to invite Jules Pretty from the UK.
He has done a lot of work on sustainable agriculture in a global context
and his main angle is that it makes sense economically in many situations
though not in others, that it requires intervention at the grass roots that
is based on genuine participation by locals to be effective.


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