The annual Balaton Group Meeting, featuring from 8-12 fascinating speakers in the morning formal programme, and anywhere from 15-25 parallel afternoon sessions in the Open Space portion of the meeting, is always full of provocative ideas. I captured a number of them here, made by some of our speakers including Dennis Meadows, Bert de Vries, Ashok Khosla, Kevin Noone, Tim Jackson, Jorgen Norgaard among others:

  • (On change) People and institutions are only willing to give money (for external research, projects, etc.) when they are no longer open to significant change.
  • (On resisting change) “Astroturfing” – When companies pay local people to fight their government over decisions that the companies don’t like.
  • (On coming discontinuities) Global society will change more over the next 20 years than it has in the past 100.
  • (On thinking globally) Global sustainability problems will still be experienced locally.
  • (On time horizons) A far-sighted dictator is better than a short-sighted democracy and neither works.
  • (On equity) Are we really living together on this planet?
  • (On economic growth) A primary anxiety of a firm is around capital mobility – that money will fly out of the firm if it does not innovate.
  • (On alternatives to economic growth) Here is a global dilemma – growth is unsustainable, and de-growth (decroissance) is unstable.
  • (On carbon emissions) We need an economy that takes carbon out of the atmosphere.
  • (On a service economy) There are also limits to a service, or amateur, economy – you can only take care of other people’s kids 24 hours a day.
  • (On decoupling) Where does environmental impact come from if not from economic activity?
  • (On the coming changes) These things take longer than you think.

Each idea, fascinating, and often bucking conventional wisdom. That’s what the Balaton Group Meetings provide each year for the 50 people who attend them. For a little history and more on this years meeting, see another Balaton Group Member’s Blog: Dormgrandpop.

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