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Tackling Greed and Achieving Sustainable Development

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We are currently in a period of great transformation on our planet. The speed and complexity of development in Asia only illustrates that we have never before seen this sort of event in the history of our planet. In the next 50 years the human race will either suffer significant destruction through environmental or social collapse based on greed, or it will learn to return to its spiritual roots, recognise its connectedness and see the development paths of the late twentieth century as the madness which they are. A move towards sustainable development requires the transformation which has already started. But it is not enough to rely on technological advances, changes in management practices and education alone. Much of the damage done is directly linked to individual human greed and this is what we now need to challenge.

The ecological crisis in which we find ourselves is therefore, in part, a manifestation of a lost spirit and a mindset that fails to recognise truth, interconnectedness and complexity. Human beings themselves, through their materialism, consumption and greed are directly responsible for most of the unsustainable practices that we see. If there is to be a real move towards sustainable development it will not be sufficient to rely on businesses, governments and other institutions. Change will have to occur within people and particularly within those of us who live in the West.

In order to move towards a sustainable future we must go beyond seeing the environment in sterile scientific terms (with a more minor social dimension sometimes tagged on) and come to recognise, appreciate and enjoy the spiritual dimension of ecology. Of course, it is vital that we reduce pollution, plant trees, clean our rivers, maintain biodiversity, recycle our products, and so on. However, we require much more fundamental change if we are really going to reverse the destructive tendencies of the modern world. The most critical change that must take place is a transformation of our very relationship with the Earth. Th e Earth does not need to change in order to survive, but we do. We must change our values, our outlook and our behaviour. We must recognise our interconnectedness with the world.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3726/978-3-0353-0376-6_2

Publication date: January 1, 2006

More about this publication?
  • Business within Limits
    The book explores the Deep Ecology perspective and Buddhist Economics for transforming business toward a more ecological and human form. It argues that ecology and ethics provide limits for business within which business is legitimate and productive. By transgressing ecological and ethical limits business activities become destructive and self-defeating. Today's business model is based on and cultivates narrow self-centeredness. Both Deep Ecology and Buddhist Economics point out that emphasizing individuality and promoting the greatest fulfillment of the desires of the individual conjointly lead to destruction. Happiness is linked to wholeness, not to personal wealth. We need to find new ways of doing business, ways that respect the ecological and ethical limits of business activities. Acting within limits provides the hope and promise of contributing to the preservation and enrichment of the world.
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