Creative Communities. People inventing sustainable ways of living.

(ed.) Anna Meroni, 2007

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Summary :

Introduction: Scientific data, common sense and intuition have told us for long that more needs to be done in order to achieve sustainable consumption and production patterns.Governments, business, researchers and civil society are taking action. While they are making their plans, running their projects and discussing the results achieved,they all know that they need to do better. The call of the street and the call of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, held in Johannesburg in 2002, are being heard in the board and meeting rooms. Sustainable solutions are slowly making their way up to enter mainstream decision making processes of business, governments and individuals.Everybody has the power to act. Kofi Annan once said “Sustainable consumption is about the power of individuals”. The choices of everyone determine consumption patterns, production patterns, the degradation of natural resources, pollution and social progress. The sum total of trillions of individual choices in millions of life cycles of products and services is what we are talking about when reflecting on sustainable development.People are surely doing their bit. Many want to make a difference, be it only by buying organic apples or fair trade coffee in the supermarket. People join waste recycling and energy saving schemes. Others take to the street or organize mass gatherings in an effort to wake up society.Some individuals are starting to explore new systems to work and live together.They organize their own lives differently. They act. They show by doing that there are other ways to live a good life without at the same time threatening nature, other people or their own inner peace.These people have been the object of investigation of the EMUDE project. Their projects have been collected in this book in the form of easily accessible and highly inspiring “case studies”. It gives us - global policy makers on sustainable consumption and production - an opportunity to learn from their common success factors and to be alerted to cross-cutting obstacles they encountered. It will help us to develop, initiate and test new policies, aimed at enabling and empowering individuals or “creative communities” to do better and to do more.The EMUDE project has revealed the existence of an important driver for sustainable innovation: groups of individual citizens thinking out of the box. Setting the conditions for replication of their projects might indeed be a challenging task ahead for governments worldwide. And those engaged in exploring new structures of civil society should also carefully read the rich contents of this book. The market itself is normally quite alert and powerful in picking up new ideas, products and services,for which a need exists. We will see many creative communities transforming themselves into sustainable entrepreneurs, helping the business community to create globalisation with a human face.

Bas de Leeuw UNEP

The Power of Individuals Working Together

For UNEP and individual governments who are working together in the MarrakechProcess, which aims at developing a ten-year framework of initiatives on sustainableconsumption and production, the lessons of EMUDE will need to be translatedinto recommendations. Where can regulations, financial instruments and voluntaryinitiatives help to inspire more creativity? And where can they help remove practicalobstacles that hinder progress?The EMUDE project has focused on Europe and can only hint at the existence of creative communities in developing countries. The existence of creative communitiesin both the upper- and middle class segments of developing countries, and of those among the poor both in cities and in rural areas, is undoubtedly an areathat deserves further research. Unlocking this largely untapped potential is vitalfor a truly worldwide mobilization of creativity, which is so desperately needed for achieving sustainable development.Earlier work of UNEP has revealed that the Global Consumer Class (including theGlobal South) increasingly shares the same consumption patterns around the world.“All I wanna do is have some fun. I got a feeling I’m not the only one” (Sheryl Crow)can be heard in MP3-players in Tokyo, Sao Paulo, Sydney, Paris, Cape Town and NewYork. The consumer society is here to stay. But these consumers also have similar ideals. They want to get rid of pollution and stop violence and they really holdthat everyone is equal and deserves the same chances. Creative communities existeverywhere, and may not differ greatly, hence offering plenty of scope for learningfrom each other.The vast majority of the world’s population has to struggle to survive on a dailybasis. Klaus Toepfer said: “We should not be afraid to wish that everyone inthe world became a consumer. The poor need more than food and shelter. Theyultimately need to be able to make choices for their material and immaterial wellbeing.” Connecting the poor to the world’s grid of creative communities is certainlypart of that enormous task. They should become consumers and they shouldbecome producers.This book shows cases, tells stories, and formulates visions and the beginning of theories. It is about individuals, it is about working together, and it will lead to newmarkets and tools. Let it be a rich source of inspiration for those readers who arewilling to open their heart, to be curious and to think differently.Paris, March 200

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