Systems thinking, social marketing and sustainability

August 5, 2018 - Comment

Professor John Sterman – MIT Sloan School of Management From road building programs that increase traffic to overuse of antibiotics that spread resistant pathogens, thoughtful leaders throughout society increasingly realize our best efforts to solve critical problems often make them worse. Such policy resistance, the tendency for well-intended interventions to be defeated by the system’s

Professor John Sterman – MIT Sloan School of Management

From road building programs that increase traffic to overuse of antibiotics that spread resistant pathogens, thoughtful leaders throughout society increasingly realize our best efforts to solve critical problems often make them worse. Such policy resistance, the tendency for well-intended interventions to be defeated by the system’s response to the intervention itself, is all too common. Here we’ll apply a systems-thinking frame to one of the greatest challenges we face today: building a sustainable world. The ecological footprint of humanity has already overshot the carrying capacity of the Earth, while population and economic growth are rapidly expanding our impact. From climate change to deforestation, water shortage, famine, and toxics in the environment, environmental degradation and resource scarcity grow year by year. How can we meet the legitimate aspirations of billions to rise out of poverty while reducing our global footprint to sustainable levels? Responses to these problems focus on technological solutions, while at the same time governments seek faster economic growth, businesses strive for faster sales growth, and the already-affluent want even more. What can be done to address the epidemic of overconsumption now afflicting the developed world?
How can social marketing help? How can we avoid unintended consequences? How can we live within the limits of our finite world while increasing life satisfaction and human well-being?

Tuesday 16th May 2017

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