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In this brief discussion I would firstly like to thank Peter Söderbaum for his thoughtful contributions in providing valuable material in  this discussion on the complex concept of Sustainability Economics. I especially would like to note the well developed Powerpoint outline we received, as it develops clearly the challenging steps in this process.

In my comments I will try to stay as close as possible to the outline points that Peter Söderbaum has made , and especially of course the complex road towards Sustainability Economics.

1. Initial step:  It appears, based on Peter’s work as well as the interesting blogs received, that most participants  appear to agree that  conventional neoliberal economics no longer works, and we will have to find an alternative path.

2. What is the next step?  Based on Peter’s analysis, it appears that:

a)      Conventional economics is no longer viable for a sustainable future.

b)      Somehow we will need to convince the broader community (especially the business community)  that an alternative approach needs to be considered, and a logical place to begin is the educational world, as educators have a deep responsibility for  developing the leaders of the future. As Peter pointed out, at the beginning this may mean teaching both conventional neoliberal economics and sustainable economics, as different approaches to economics for the future.   This alternative( sustainable economics), as  Peter proposes involves in its essence the concept of “plurality” and how this could work.

3. Next steps?  Here I would like to propose a few key considerations, which initially appear needed to be taken into account in relation to making pluralism workable.

a)      Pluralism as an alternative in general – I think – is an excellent idea. This approach will take into account the variations  related to different cultures, countries, disciplines etc.  This means a broad sweep (or layer of society) in which each area will have different ideas about most aspects of  what sustainability economics really means  and how it applies to their particular circumstances.

b)      The result of this approach means we could have participants who have very different “ideological orientations”, using Peter’s wording. In addition to different needs for different cultures and disciplines  for example, we also will find different beliefs about  deeper personal values or non-monetary orientations, ranging from conventional economic values , all the way to highly evolved sustainable non-monetary values.

c)      Challenge: Somehow we need to find some deeply felt COMMONLY held  factors (values, or ideological orientation) that we agree on and  that can form a common, solid base, or deep foundation on which to seat pluralism. Then, at that deep values level, we are all “drinking from the same well”, so to speak. This “non-monitary “level  (Reference Earth Charter and others), and based on the work of researchers in the field  such as  McGilchrist, Laszlo, and  Harman,  provides a common  foundation  of universally held values. Then on top of that level we have the broad societal “pluralism” level that Peter so well describes. In this way, we would have commonality of thinking and belief at a deep level (non-monetary values), but also viable plurality possibilities in our everyday institutions, businesses, governments and teaching— as we have a common deep values foundation.

Based on the work of researchers (some mentioned above) , these deep universal values are the ones that basically control how we interpret everything we think and do every day—our basic lens through which we interpret the world.

4. Universal values: These values are usually divided into 4 interrelated groups:

(i)Relationship with the Self, (ii) Relationship with family, community, work, (iii) Relationship with Nature, (iv) Relationship with the Cosmos (outer space).

5. Sustainable Economics and Values:  The whole sustainability question is of course closely associated with Peter’s concept of “monetary” and “non-monetary” aspects of Sustainable Economics. The monetary aspects refer to our present left brain thinking, and how this thinking has penetrated almost every aspect of human economies. The non-monetary aspects refer to mainly right brain thinking, and how this thinking today has no place in conventional economic thinking.

As a result of this realization, regarding left/right brain thinking (or monetary vs non-monetary) could form a way of understanding more clearly the challenges we have today. These concepts also affect the whole challenge related to “externalities” and “internalities”.

6. Summary: In general, it seems to me that Peter’s idea of plurality is an excellent one. This is the layer we are working in every day. But as a common foundation it appears that a deeper layer of our own values (ideological orientation) needs to be considered as essential to make pluralism work.

I  can only say that through many years of working in transcultural management with large international  companies (US and Mexican management), the one aspect that helped me to have success in this work has been the realization that somehow, at some deeper level ( non-monetary level) we needed to find commonality. This was a way we could respect both sides in terms of culture and ideas and disciplines, and still make management changes that respected “sustainable economic thinking”, as well as being  acceptable  to both sides, and successful overall results.

Hopefully these reflections on the roots of Sustainable Economics can form a basis for discussion of the essence of sustainable thinking  and values (non-monetary)that we need to consider in relation to putting into practice the concept of plurality.

I look forward very much to the opportunity of meeting all of you, and learning from your different perspectives.

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