Green Government: Australia Releases Its First Sustainability Report

Measuring wellbeing, like happiness, is complicated.

But in the spirit of Alex Steffan’s “dark grey paint,” the people who say it can’t be done should get out of the way of people who are doing it.

The Australian government stepped up and announced the first nationwide benchmarking Sustainability report on May 9. The report canvasses trends in environment, society, economy and collective wellbeing.

What I like about it is that the authors don’t shy away from measuring the hard stuff. They shine light on ideas that usually go unreported in balance sheets and State of the Union addresses. Ideas like wellbeing and the health of natural ecosystems often slip through the cracks of conveniently concrete numbers and census choices.

And can I tell you how much I love that Australia has a Sustainability Minister? His whole job is to make sure the country thrives today while planning for future generations to have the same chance.


Sustainability Council’s First Report Out

Sustainability Minister Tony Burke said the 264-page tome offered a comprehensive set of indicators that could give “a sense of how we were doing, generation to generation”.

The government-funded report does not make specific recommendations but examines trends in Australia’s environment, society, economy and collective wellbeing.

Mr Burke said he hoped the biannual report would come to be treated much like job growth or GDP figures.

“One of the things we were determined to make sure of was that we would eventually get to the point where people would follow sustainability indicators as closely as they would follow economic indicators,” he told the launch.

When you start to find ways to measure more things that matter, the result is a richer, more nuanced picture of what you have in front of you. From there, you can make it better.


Green Shift: Manifesto for World Changers

Just go read this.


Dark Grey Paint

If you want to try to change the world, you will inevitably encounter the guy with the bucket of dark gray paint.

This is the guy who in the middle of any discussion of any new proposal, innovation, plan or solution demands that everyone in the room revisit how fucking horrible the reality of the problem is. Working on an idea for clean energy as climate action? He’s there to tell you about starving polar bears you won’t save. Working on imagining a new public health program in a poor country? He’s there to remind you of the sick babies who’ll die anyway. Working on a hunch about a more sustainable product design? He’s there to remind you of the dark mountains of toxic trash that will pile up in China despite your efforts. You’re working on envisioning your contribution to the world as vividly as possible, and splash!

Dark gray paint.

I believe that this is how the world changes.

Not with a bang. But with the inspiration that it can.