Distinguished Next System Fellow
Change Agent: Evolution of a Systems Champion
Gus Speth, co-chair for the Next System Project at the Democracy Collaborative, talks to Great Transition Initiative about his history, book, time at the UN, and why he is working even harder now to bring about systemic change:
As environmentalists, we have to ask the question, “What is an environmental issue?” The immediate answer is typically air pollution, water pollution, or climate change. But what if you reframe the question by saying that an environmental issue is anything with a significant impact on environmental outcomes? That is, an environmental issue is whatever affects the prospects for success in meeting an environmental challenge.
Once you frame it that way, then you realize that our politics and our failing democracy are environmental issues. So are our runaway consumerism, our lifestyle, and our values. And so, too, are the nature of the corporation, the corporatization of our body politic, and the powers and freedoms that we give to these artificial entities. Economic insecurity is an environmental issue as well because conservative arguments about the job creation potential of extractive industry or the “job-killing” nature of environmental regulations will resonate more with people when they are living paycheck-to-paycheck. The environmental community must embrace a systems perspective that recognizes the interdependencies between economic, environmental, and social issues.
Read the rest of the interview on Great Transition Initiative.