Archive for the ‘posts’ Category


Reintroducing Initiation to consolidate a Reconciled Australia

September 14, 2009

The 13 February 2008- National Sorry Day- will become a significant moment in Australian history-of magnitude equal in importance to the 1967 Referendum and the Mabo Judgement by the Hight Court. The Apology asks both indigenous and immigrant Australia to collaborate to  create ‘a future based on mutual respect , mutual resolve and mutual responsibility’ . The next task is to devise original programs which help to enable indigenous Australians to successfully take their place in 21st Century Australian society while simultaneously respecting  and celebrating  their unique cultural heritage.  To emphasise the use of means which promote mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility it would be best if new programs were devised  which could be  implemented in both indigenous and immigrant communities,  but be customised to meet the different needs of each of  these two communities

Therefore these programs should simultaneously both close the gap in terms of life expectancy , and educational and economic opportunity in indigenous communities but also encourage immigrant Australians  to support these programs in indigenous with more open hearts, and deal with similar problems where they exist in immigrant communities. Just As all Australians should recognise the each individual and community of has an obligation to minimize or even abolish its carbon footprint  to create a future which is not threatened by climate change, all of us should  contribute in our own and different  ways to realise a future reconciled Australia  where indigenous and immigrant Australians can live side by side with equal prospects for achieving success in the new conditions of  21st century Australia. If programs are only implanted in indigenous communities these programs will always be regarded as marginal by mainstream Australia.

Top of the list should be a program which prepares youth for successful 21st century adulthood.  This after all is the main purpose of both parenthood and education . However if we look at the state of youth,  failure is everywhere- in indigenous and immigrant communities alike.

Traditional societies everywhere including  use a process  called  initiation to prepare youth on the threshold of adulthood to become successful and responsible adults. Initiation traditionally accomplished two outcomes : it reaffirmed the core culture of each culture – to give people a sense of belonging to a larger group , and it taught the young how to be successful in the world they would be inheriting as adults. Initiation served brilliantly in helping to create successful responsible indigenous adulthood over 40,000 years.  Every traditional society that I know has used initiation  for this purpose , but in the last hundred years it has been jettisoned – and at significant cost to youth welfare. . The advocacy of the renewal of initiation is not new and has been made has been made by several writers, including Joseph Campbell, Robert Bly and Steve Biddulph. With appropriate reinvention to meet the new circumstances of the 21st century initiation can do so again.

Michael Ventura in his essay The Age of Endarkment described traditional initiation thus:

Tribal people everywhere greet the onset of puberty, especially in males, with elaborate and excruciating initiations, a practice, which would not be as necessary unless their young were as extreme as ours were.

They would assault their adolescents with, quite literally, holy terror, rituals that had been kept secret from the young until that moment, rituals that focussed upon the young all the light and darkness of their tribe’s collective psyche, all its sense of mystery, all its questions and all the stories told both to harbour and answer these questions…The crucial word is focus. The adults had something to teach: stories, skills, magic, dances, visions, rituals. In fact, if all these things were not learned well and completely, the tribe could not survive…This practice was so effective that usually by the age of 15 a tribal youth was able to take his or her place as a fully responsible adult.

The time is right to go back to the future to retrieve and then update a process which should never been allowed to disappear.   We should introduce a universal program for both indigenous and immigrant Australians alike, to implement a program in the middle years of secondary school  to reintroduce a 21st century version of traditional initiation , appropriately customised for the different needs of indigenous and immigrant Australia and to promote  mutual respect, resolve and responsibility.

I have talked with indigenous leaders and they tell me that many of the problems of dysfunctional communities and behaviours are present because their young have not been initiated. In similar discussions indigenous youth tell me that initiation belongs to the past and has no relevance to their world as they see it.  Now both these perspectives are correct. Initiation in its old form will not work, but if it were updated and modified for new 21st century circumstances there is a good chance that it could work as brilliantly as it has in the past.

No community,  indigenous or immigrant ,  is as successful as it could be in preparing our youth for successful responsible 21st Century adulthood.  Indigenous youth is clearly endangered from alcoholism, petrol sniffing , they perpetrate violence against  their own and children , and commit suicide in much too high numbers. The problems of immigrant youth can be remarkably similar even though the communities of which they are part are usually much more functional. That said immigrant youth is involved in  excessive and dangerous drug use,   drug engendered robberies ,  intra-youth knife violence, drug spiked rapes,  binge drinking, youth suicide, and violence against women and children: these issues are and testaments that similar problems exist in mainstream Australians occur in indigenous communities.  Therefore immigrant youth would benefit from a reinvention and reintroduction of initiation into youth during the years of puberty as well.

Imagine an old wine skin called initiation and then imagine the new wine which should be poured into that wine skin to ensure that through initiation, successful responsible indigenous adults are developed who are aware and proud of their cultural identity while they also possess the key skills needed to be a success 21st century adult.  What would be the ingredient of such a curriculum ?  Indigenous leaders themselves could be asked to answer this question and others concerned in imparting the requisite skill set should add their contributions. And initiation should be introduced across the whole of Australian society. Imagine a process lasting (say) one year in the middle secondary school – probably year 9-  which would be undertaken by all Australian secondary students, indigenous and immigrant alike.  Some of these programs would be appropriately customised to emphasise the importance of identity and culture for indigenous people , and other cultural and religious groups, and also be customised for gender related issues . The remainder would be common to all, and include what it takes to become a successful and responsible  adult in mainstream  21st century Australia in an interdependent global society.
There are already several programs which are promising starts, including an outstanding one in South Australian schools ( and successful components exist in the new leadership programs at Melbourne Grammar and Lauriston, at Caulfield Grammar and Geelong Grammar – and in state schools at The Alpine School –all of which are directed at the middle years of secondary school –the years of puberty.

We should vacate the entire curriculum of year 9 in all our schools and introduce initiation- a year long program for preparing for successful responsible adulthood- as a national priority.  Any secondary school teacher will tell you that year 9, as it is currently constructed, is failing. Young people at puberty are less interested in mathematics and history, but they absolutely want to learn how to become successful in the adult world they are just about to inherit . We should let biology rule and grant the young people of Australia, indigenous and non indigenous alike, their wish.

An excellent Program which is being developed on these lines is The Rite Journey (


A global language?

September 14, 2009

One Integrated and Tribalized World

In my recent book Designing 2050 (launched in February 2009) I described in detail the emergence of a single, integrated, global society in the 21st century. Globalization will make this society increasingly interdependent, whilst tribalization (my expression) generates many new independent countries. Timor Leste , Montenegro and Kosovo have been the most recent nations born and there will be more. These could include Chechnya, Tibet, East Turkisan, Scotland, Catalonia and Aceh. In 25 years there are likely to be another 20-30 members of the UN. All of these will be integrated into a single global trading system under the auspices of the WTO , and committed to collaborating to build a new integrated global society and protect the world from climate change and financial piracy such as by those who catalyzed the 2008-2009 global financial crisis.

Treasuring Diversity

It is interesting to note that global public opinion is consistently on the side of those seeking independence rather than on those who are increasingly regarded as their imperial oppressors. We are also treasuring our cultural uniqueness and differences more and more as we integrate into a single integrated global society. We will take an increasingly dim view of those who try to replace the political imperialism, from which many cultures have recently emancipated themselves, with any from of cultural imperialism which undermines often hard won cultural uniqueness and independence. And these changes are generating new industrial concepts such as World music which involves the simultaneous celebration of cultural difference and global unity. The simultaneous celebration of cultural difference and global unity is a major feature of emerging 21st century global society . So the world is simultaneously integrating into a single global society and increasingly celebrating and nurturing its cultural differences. I worked as an adviser to UN in the 1992 Earth Summit. With the Bio-diversity Convention signed at the Earth Summit, and subsequently ratified by national governments, the world took the position that all species have an innate right to continue to exist and there is no need to demonstrate their usefulness to humanity, a utilitarian perspective which dominated in modernist times. In the next ten years a similar cultural diversity convention will most likely follow in which it will be accepted that all languages and cultures have a right to exist and, where necessary, be protected. Post-modernists increasingly appropriate useful concepts from other cultures and integrate them into their own cultures, and they increasingly enjoy and appreciate the richness that the world cultures offer all of us.

Language and Identity

Language is at the base of all cultural difference. Because we are one species with the same human genome, humans are very similar and languages have more aspects in common than they have differences. That said, cultures are different largely because our languages are different. One of the first things which an imperial oppressor which seeks to subjugate a culture will do is to ban the speaking of the language of the conquered. The English did this to the Irish and the Turks did this to the Kurds. Another example is the pressure against the speaking of Tamil in public by the majority Sinhalese in Sri Lanka. There are hundreds of examples drawn from the tragic effects of conquest and colonization on indigenous peoples which demonstrate that suppressing languages leads quickly to the destruction of cultures. During the modernist era we accepted this destruction of both language and culture as an inevitable part of modernist ‘progress’. In the postmodern and the emerging planetist society of the early 21st century, this attitude is mercifully changing and we are witnessing an immense growth of intercultural respect and tolerance. Global public opinion is at last catching up with the principles enunciated in the UN Charter and similar international agreements. This change of global heart needs now be embedded by two measures. The first of these is global dialogue leading to the adoption of a cultural diversity convention. The second is to dramatically improve the way we communicate with each other and this means the universal introduction of a global language with is easy to learn, universally accessible and culturally unthreatening .

Language and Global Communication, Need

Humanity is growing at a startling pace. As Al Gore pointed out in “An Inconvenient Truth”, all time up to his birth had produced a world population of 2 billion people. We now are 9 billion, by the end of his expected span, we will be 15 billion people on this same small world. Clearly, we have things to discuss. We all share our air, our water, our fisheries, our ozone and our climate. We share biodiversity and science and creativity. We share obstacles like pride and prejudice and ignorance too. The single most useful tool that we can choose to equip ourselves with, to succeed in this challenge, is a common language. In the next twenty-five years the proportion of products and services traded across international boundaries will probably double. With more and more communication occurring between different cultural groups and the formation of regional groups such as an expanded EU, we face a rapidly growing global language problem So far the magnitude of the problem we face is not fully recognized, possibly because there is such a low expectation that there could ever be really effective communication between peoples and cultures, perhaps because the immense costs are growing gradually (and being borne by others), and perhaps because it just looks too hard. But here is the problem as outlined by David Richardson: With language, intellect joins intellect, and there are few limits to what we can ultimately accomplish. But it is a great irony that even in our advanced century, languages effectively divide, as well as unite the human race. If your language is English there are some 423 million other people with whom you can communicate freely (or could if everybody talked English the same way), but there are four billion people on the globe with whom you cannot communicate at all. Of the two hundred mutually unintelligible ‘major’ languages spoken by a million persons or more, Mandarin Chinese heads the list with just about twice as many speakers as English. At least the names of a few dozen other tongues are familiar to us: French (115 million speakers), German (118 million), Russian (286 million), Arabic (180 million), and so on. Few of us could identify, much less understand a single word of, such other languages as Gujarati, Hakka, Kannada, Malayalam, Min, Oriya and so on, each with anywhere from 20 million to 40 million of native speakers or more. And nobody knows for sure how many are mother tongue—and therefore precious—to many more millions of our fellow inhabitants of Planet Earth.

Language and Global Communication, Risks

Language is a huge cause of misunderstanding. In 1955 the English-speaking world was shocked when Nikita Khrushchev, leader of the then Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) apparently declared ‘We will bury you’ in a speech to the United Nations in New York. It was a translator’s mistake. Khrushchev actually said, ‘We will outlive you’. At present, governments spend large sums of money to enable the world to communicate effectively. In 1996 the cost for the European Parliament of every published word was 36 cents (US), and is presumably more today because the European parliament allows the use of many more languages. The expense is due to the cost of translation and transcription services. As more nations join the EU the situation will become worse if each nation insists, as is likely, on speaking its own language in the European Parliament. If it is difficult with the present number of EU members what will it be like with twice this number? Ten new member nations joined the EU in 2004, with others to follow. Despite this high cost, the quality of communication is very poor. In international organizations such as the United Nations many delegates are disadvantaged in critical negotiations because they must express themselves in one of the six official languages of the United Nations. The pressure to add more languages will grow, particularly if Japan and Germany are elected to permanent membership of the Security Council as part of the reorganization of the United Nations system. Even in the late 1980s translation and transcription used 7% of the UN budget. Even in the late 1980s translation and transcription used 7% of the UN budget. It requires 400 hours of expensive translators’ labor to translate a one-hour speech in English into the other five official languages of Russian , French, Arabic, Spanish and Chinese. The translations have to be very carefully done, because a single mistake like the one made in Khrushchev’s speech could cause an international incident. The difficulties of training and finding translators are going to increase exponentially. Imagine the European Parliament with a Hungarian or Slovenian speaking and expecting this speech to be simultaneously translated into Italian, Swedish, Lithuanian, Polish and so on: a linguistic organizational nightmare! How many people would be fluent enough in both (say) Hungarian and Portuguese to translate simultaneously both ways? Imagine what fees they could demand for their services! Translations of documents require frustratingly long waiting periods, and those who suffer these frustrations are, in reality, privileged people in terms of their communication skills. Their proficiency in languages is very high by most standards, and they usually have the support of language specialists. But the support of language specialists is not available to most people. Ordinary people who travel face the language problem every day. Consider, for example, communication between doctors and patients in a country where the language is not known by the visiting patient, or by newly arrived migrants who do not yet know the language of their new home. As global interdependence, trade and travel increase, these problems get worse every year. They are regarded as a normal and unavoidable consequence of trade and travel, but are they unavoidable? Any rational person would come to the conclusion that the birth of a planetary culture requires the adoption of a planetary language.

Language and Global Communication, Choices

The choice the world needs to make is whether this should be an existing national language which is given a new job to do or a new language designed specifically for the purpose. For a question of such immense proportion, it is worth investing in a bit of thinking about the thinking called for. As Edward de Bono observed: Most bad thinking is not failure of logic, but of breadth. So, pause to consider “who has a choice?” and “how does, and should, the world make choices?” There are many who believe that the world has already ‘decided’ that the international lingua franca should be (or will be) English. English is favored as the priority language for people to learn if they want to be effective on the international stage. There is no doubt that this situation is a consequence of US political and cultural power in the 20th century, and before this the imperial power of the UK in the 19th century. But is that the model of decision-making our spaceship Earth should use? Most citizens of wealthy English-speaking countries pay taxes for the common good, support worthy causes, at least occasionally, and, at least nominally, subscribe to the belief that it is right to aid the disadvantaged. Perhaps they can, and will, see that this global decision should not be claimed by commercial interests, or by the exercise of inherited privilege but by a more equitable consideration of the consequences to all stake-holders. If they do they may recognize that this question impacts on every single person in the world, and even future persons not yet born. Taking this into account, the proportion of the current and future Earthlings who already speak English goes from being a minority, to being a tiny fraction of the total stakeholders. The significant statistic becomes the difference in learning time, for English and the alternative, for the vast majority who have neither. English is a notoriously difficult language to learn and most people who try to learn it fail. English is relatively so difficult that it will only ever be an elite language , just as it remains an elite language in India after more than 100 years of language instruction in Indian Schools. The recent market penetration of English has been huge. However will this (and should this) continue as India and China emerge as powerful nations in the 21st century, and an integrated Europe and resurgent Russia regain some of their former influence? It is not sensible to make choices about global language policy to reflect temporary political power realities. Instead it should be based on more rational criteria such as ease and cost of learning, and whether any cultural imperialism would accompany its widespread use. Esperanto has been a living language for about a hundred years since it was designed as an international language that would promote the development of internationalist values. Ludovic Zamenhof spoke twelve languages and combined the most useful elements of each to design a politically neutral language of remarkable economy and flexibility. The American linguist Mario Pei says, of Esperanto, ‘it is an artificial language just as a motor vehicle is an artificial horse’. Esperanto has a mixture of linguistic roots derived from Romantic, Germanic and Slavic languages so it will be widely accepted as a trans-European language. Some of its strongest adherents are Esperanto clubs in Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria, so the accession of eastern European countries into the EC will improve its visibility across Europe. Interestingly, China and the Republic of Korea have strong Esperanto movements and these cultures find Esperanto very easy to learn. Most people can use it effectively after studying it for six months to a year. Many people involved in languages perceive Esperanto either as a threat to national linguistic cultures or as a language of no culture. In fact it is a language for a now emerging planetary culture; Zamenhof was a visionary a hundred years ahead of his time. Esperanto has survived through the intolerant and culturally imperialistic modernist era intact and can be now looked at afresh as a possible lingua franca for the emerging 21st century global society. Esperanto does not threaten any tribal culture as would English or another national language as an international lingua franca. Esperanto solves in a practical, low cost and culturally non-threatening way the problem of international or universal communication. In late 2003 a meeting in the EU considered the possible role which Esperanto might play in the future of Europe. It is possible that in the not too distant future Esperanto will be added to the official languages of the European Parliament. Imagine the UN General Assembly on the 1st September 2014 making a collective decision to adopt a global lingua franca and to commence its world wide use 10 years later after that date and after the implementation of a 10 program After 1st September 2024 all international conferences would be held in this language, as is the case with the World Esperanto Congress today- with thousands of participants from all continents and with no expensive translators in sight! Each cultural group would discuss things in its own language, but when they come together with other cultural groups they would use a language which is both everybody’s and nobody’s language. It would be a little like monetary union in the EU but on a much grander scale.

Future Taking/ Future Making

When the state of Israel was established, Hebrew was chosen as the language of the new state, and it is now at the centre of Jewish culture there. At that time Hebrew was a language spoken fluently by very few Jews even though almost all of them knew some Hebrew. All immigrants arriving in Israel were required to become fully fluent in Hebrew so that they could participate effectively in Israeli society, and through this all were put on an equal footing. Had one of the other national languages spoken by these immigrants been chosen instead, some migrants would have been advantaged against all the rest. The choice to use Hebrew and to require all would-be Israeli citizens to learn it was an act which consolidated their nation building and created an astonishingly cohesive society in Israel within a generation, because it de-emphasized difference and emphasized unity and cohesiveness. The world now faces a choice similar to that made by the founders of the state of Israel. If Esperanto was everyone’s second language we would be better off because we would be placing everybody on an equal footing, avoiding any cultural imperialism, and so enhancing global cohesiveness. It would not have been hard to find opponents to the introduction of Hebrew in Israel, to find those who said it was too hard, not their problem, something that would solve itself. Nevertheless, some people found the resolve to make a future. We could do that too.


2050 review on The Leadership Hub

June 23, 2009

Here’s a very positive review of Designing 2050 on a site called The Leadership Hub:


The more I read of Peter Ellyard’s fabulous book Designing 2050 the more inspired I am and the greater the clarity for me in understanding the differences between leaders and managers and how we combine to move to the future.


Designing 2050 Narratives

June 16, 2009

Peter Ellyard is now conducting events entitled Designing 2050 Narratives, based on the tile of his most recent book Designing 2050: Pathways to sustainable prosperity on Spaceship Earth which was launched by the Governor of Victoria Professor David de Krester in February 2009 This is a collaborative long term planning game similar in nature to the hypothetical as devised by Geoffrey Robertson. These can be conducted on an audience wide basis or with a small number (up to 12) on a stage in front of an audience with or without an additional audience participation process which involves the audience briefing an individual as their representative ahead of the game beginning.

This game is based on the recognition that the world should all be on the same side and must cooperate if it is to uplift the world out of the global financial crisis, meet the challenge of global warming, and mutually benefit from world trade ( the Doha Round) . A global dialogue is now taking place about the year 2050. This dialogue focuses on by how much and by what means humanity should collectively reduce global carbon emissions and global atmospheric carbon concentrations to maintain the planet is a state where it will be possible to thrive on it forever. Never in human history has the world’s people ever held a discussion about what all of us should seek to collectively achieve in two generations time. That this is taking place at all is should be something humanity should collectively celebrate. The next question then is what other goals and targets should the planet achieve by the year 2050- to ensure we are to create a prosperous, sustainable, harmonious and just future for all-and how can we achieve these targets. This is the question which first the book and now the game seeks to answer. More than 70% of the products and services, which will be present in world markets in a generation’s time have yet to be invented. It is possible to envision what these products and services will be for many of them will help to create such a future for all. This will in turn enable people to glimpse the emerging 21st century global economy.

Many Designing 2050 Narratives are set in the year 2025 and will simultaneously look forward to the year 2050 and backward to the present and will utilise insight, foresight and hindsight – and forecasting and backcasting. The game will usually last between 90 minutes and three hours.

Peter conducts these with or without collaborative cybertechnologies which are used to collect and organise contributions for subsequent inclusion into visions of the future and strategic plans to realise these envisioned futures

The aim of Designing 2050 Narratives is to encourage the development of long term envisioning and strategic planning and thinking skills, to encourage the development of a sense of responsibility for the future of our planetary home, be future makers rather than future takers, and to prosper from doing so. If warranted some individuals will be given a brief to represent particular vested interests in order to create a more dramatic atmosphere and remind the audience that at times finding a successful outcome will require ‘mutual coercion mutually agreed upon’.

For more information about the Designing 2050 Narratives, please contact please contact Sandra Rogerson from Saxtons Speakers Bureau at srogerson@saxton.


Now it is the optimists who are the realistic ones

April 21, 2009

When I read the press comment about the global financial situation or the likelihood of reaching global agreement on climate change in Copenhagen in November I become astonished about the pessimism of mainstream commentators and economists . Each of these people who usually claim the mantle of realism for themselves when they are actually the ones who are out of touch with reality Each of these commentators construct his/her arguments by comparing current problems with past crises when our perceptions were dominated by nationalist thinking and the expectation that international leadership such as the leaders at the recent G20 meeting would continue to give priority to national interests over planetary interests. I commented recently on the G20 summit . These comments can be found in this blog. I predicted a much more optimistic result than most commentators did . I sent the copy to a major Australian newspaper which said they would not publish because they believed that my comments were unrealistically optimistic . Well as it turned out I think I got it pretty right. Even allowing for the cynicism of much of the media they looked at the problems facing the G20 from a nationalist and not a planetist mindset, and without recognizing the genuinely new circumstances of the G20 meeting . The world is now firmly embedded in a global culture which is says that cooperation on these major issues of collective survival is in our interests and competition is not. When the leaders of 85% of the worlds population and 90% of the world’s GDP meet and agree to do something collaboratively -as they did- it is indeed historic . Old thinking believes that such an agreement would be excessively altruistic when in fact it is in our enlightened self interested to raise the bar on possible agreement and to make decisions which are elevating and not based on the least common denominator. Such decisions involve what Garret Hardin called ‘mutual coercion mutually agreed upon’ . Now there is recognition that we are on the same side and that we will either all succeed together or fail together. What G20 leader would want to be the one who prevents such a global agreement when the issues are so serious, such saving ourselves economically speaking by fixing the global financial crisis, seeking ecological salvation through collaboratively facing with the climate challenge together ,or on increasing out mutual interdependence and mutual benefit by completing the Doha Round of trade talks. I predict all three of these major issues will be significantly progressed by the end of 2009. However don’t expect many old thinking economist and newspaper commentators to predict this .


Needed: A vision and a strategy to realise successful Ageing

March 26, 2009

Question. Is Australia ageing successfully?

I have asked this question to hundreds of people and so far only one person has ever said yes. Many, perhaps most, say no and the rest say we are doing OK but that there is massive room for improvement.

From those who say we are not doing a good job at creating a Successfully Aging Australia (SAA), why do you say so and can you nominate some :
Obstacles and Problems in current arrangements you would remove?
Improvements to current practices, policies and actions which you would make?
Initiatives- what would you do to accomplish new ends and means or to give attention to current neglected areas of concern?
Heritage- what would you would keep and nurture so that when you change every thing else you would not throw out babies with bathwater?
Baggage –what current mindsets, attitudes , policies and behaviours you would eliminate because their retention is preventing us from implementing successful change?

In addition if you think there is room for improvement could you nominate a quality, facility or opportunity to create successful aging which you would introduce

There are some places where demographic change is well in advance of us, such as Japan. It is my view that the Japanese are doing a somewhat better job of successfully aging than us, but it is also my belief that they also could do a lot better. Therefore what I am suggesting is that if Australia finds a way to age successfully then we will have a major 21st century export industry as we could export of successful aging products and services to the world which also want to know how to age successfully. In previous generations when more people died younger successful aging would not have the priority it should be now. People are now living longer but I don’t think any of us could say that these extended lives are as fulfilled as they could be. Our failure is that we are not imagining enough of what is possible.

Leadership and Management for realising successful ageing

Each of us want to influence the future, and when we seek to do so we do it in two kinds of ways.
We can act as a manager-of-self and become prophets. We ask the question what will the future be like – what is the probable future? We look and trends and seek where we think where they are taking us –either to paradise , hell or something in between , and then we seek to eliminate the problem and obstacles which could limit our capacity to maximize the benefits and minimize the costs of following along this trend line. This is a rather fatalistic way of behaving , but in fact many of us, including our major corporations do just this
We can also act as leader-of-self and become visionaries. We ask the question what should or could the future be like- what is the preferred future? Leaderdhip is about have a dream of a preferred future and seeking to realise it.

Australia is an over-managed and under-led country and there is too much prophecy and management, and not enough vision and leadership.

George Bernard Shaw summarised this difference between the manage and the leader in each of us when he said
Some people see things as they are and ask why? I see things as they could be and ask why not

This is true for so called ‘aged care’. We confront a probable future of apparently inevitable increases in disability and illness as a part of ageing and in response to this we create a system which accepts this as inevitable and construct often expensive systems to ameliorate this increasing disability and illness . The result is an over medicalised illness care system which consumes vast resources, which assumes that people who are not ill, but not necessarily well, should receive little support even if they are poor from the pension they receive from so called aged care system, and only need help them when they a show increasing disadvantage or disability. We need public policies which give more attention to assisting those who are not working full time and are well to live fulfilled and balanced lives. And we need to remember that a stich in time often saves nine.

No long ago I advised a so called a health insurance company (read illness insurance company). It was struggling to remain profitable and had just about run out of ideas about how to contain costs. After getting them to admit that their business had nothing to do with health, but a lot to do with illness , they admitted that their core business was illness rather than health insurance. I asked them could they imaging creating good health- establishing wellness creation as a goal as well as healing illness – and though this change becoming a true health care ( read promotion) company. I suggested that they could do so by becoming involved (say) in gymnasiums, health and yoga retreats, health food, and personal training? They were so what I called problem-centred in their strategic thinking- that is focussing on overcoming problems rather than pursuing new initiatives outside their current core business – that this possibility had not really occurred to them . I then suggested by making people healthy in their health creation business they could give a reduced fee for their illnessinsurance services to their healthier customers- just like a no claim bonus in car insurance. Similar thinking totally dominates aged care in Australia

Our aged care system has not yet willing or is even or is unwilling to commence a conversation about what a successful aging Australia, would look like as a preferred future vision, and what a elements would be elements of a mission directed strategy to create such an outcome. To me there seems very little real leadership in the so our called aged care sector – both in government and in the age care industry itself– leadership which would be willing to commence an envisioning and strategic planning process to create a successfully aging Australia.

When I work with clients in your industry I have fun asking facilities owners and CEOs this question ’when your time comes will you be happy to live in one of your own facilities. There are very few who answer yes. They then tell me that plan to stay at home. This is a classic example of being over managed and under led. The manage/prophet in these CEOs follows the trend and then constructs facilities based on their own understanding of these trends. The result is a bricks and mortar and over medicalised response to fulfilling the needs of the aged . What they seem less willing do is to walk into the future in their own imagination (which is what leaders do) – visualise their own preferred future and that of their friends and colleagues, and then realise this vision by constructing it on the ground. So I ask them if you want to live at home yourself why are you not using this knowledge to inform you business rather than following trends ? They could invent the ‘nursing home at home’ if they did so, and therefore minimise the institutionalisation of aging. Such a solution would be a marvellous export industry. consider ‘meals on wheels; and create a generic ‘X on wheels’. What could ‘X’ become if we were to construct a major national initiative based on inventing the ‘ nursing home at home’ This could include new forms of housing to create new synthetic extended and nuclear family arrangements to make up for any decline in natural family support for the aged

The fact is we have no idea of what would compromise successful ageing, simply because we have not asked the question and sought to answer it. We cannot work to create a future which we do not first imagine.

Now what might be some components of successful ageing?

Here are few ideas.

Indian Summer Adulthood

Most of us enjoy a period after we finish full time employment, when we can live for decades of mostly healthy living . This is a period in our lives which I call ‘Indian Summer Adulthood’ when living fulfilled lives in not only possible but actively sought by most people. In this period of life we might work a couple of days per week to maintain our career paths as an active core in our lives, but usually we will act in a more of a mentoring/advisor role rather than a hands on role – where our accumulated wisdom will be valued by younger work colleagues. There is no reason why we should not persist in doing this until we no longer wish to or are unable to do so.

Balancing wellness and illness in successful ageing

To create successful ageing we need to pay at least as much attention to wellness as we do to illness. Right now wellness is almost invisible in our discussions about ageing. Wellness is the opposite of illness but illness and disability have so dominated our dialogues about ageing it has become the norm. Wellness consists of two parts, what I call wellbecoming –becoming well or healing, and wellbeing- being well and – maintaining wellness. We have institutionalised aged care not with the aim of promoting wellness but to try to achieve the efficient management of illness and the model we have come up with the nursing home many or may not be the most efficient way to achieve this goal. We have created many problems for our aged by too readily separating them from their families and by over institutionalising our response to the aging of our society. Yes families struggle to look after their aged but this does not mean that separation into institutionalised facilities is the only way to go. How could we keep our old at home and give them the support they need on tap but decidedly not on top? How could we not only have a nursing home at home, but also support families so they are more resilient and better able to look after the old? Unless we ask these questions we will not answer them. Again it is time we asked more questions to explore alternatives to current solutions. In our journey through life we start as dependent children, then transform into independent adolescents and finally into interdependent adult hood. We all know that the we all prefer interdependence as the optional form of relationship and we willingly surrender some of our independence in adulthood because of the benefit and synergy which comes from union. As we get old the process reverses with widow/ widower hood and nursing home and increased dependence . However we need new public policy as well as greater entrepreneurship to maximise the retention of the years of interdependence and independence , including encouraging new forms of interdependence when a spouse dies.

Wellness and Meliors

I have borrowed a concept from the human ecologist Stephen Boyden. In introducing this concept he says:

Much emphasis has been given, quite rightly, to the importance of stressors as aspects of life experience likely to interfere with human wellness. But this is only part of the picture…any human being should be regarded on a continuum between a state of distress and its opposite—let us call it a state of bliss. Stressors are those experiences which tend to push the individual towards one end of the continuum—towards a state of distress. We suggest that, in our attempts to describe or analyse human situations we should pay as much attention to those experiences that can have exactly the opposite effect to stressors, and that push the individual towards a state of bliss. We call these experiences meliors. The position of the individual on the distress–bliss continuum is thus largely a function of the balance between meliors and stressors in her or his life experience.

I now work with clients to identify their own meliors- and we all have individual list which we add to and delete from throughout our lives. I encourage all my clients assemble their meliors into a kitbag into which they reach on a regular basis. The bliss industry and the provision of meliors is a huge 21st century global industries and it is growing rapily ( eg spas , organised sport of concerts. We should be encouraging our old to consider their current melior list and consider both adding to it and taking melior time more often.

Insight , Foresight and Hindsight in future making .

As we age most of us do more future taking and less future making. However I think that maintaining a capability to be a marvellous future maker and not merely slipping into increased future taking, is a critical component of successful ageing. The best way to predict the future is to make it. Even in the last years of life a commitment to keeping a balance between future taking and future making is critical . Success is largely about being able to intervene in ways so that we remain able to shape future outcomes.

Good future making requires that we plan for the future through insight, foresight and hindsight. When I work with the young or people in mid career about career and life paths and choices, I work with them on three dialogues which I call respectively the destiny dialogue ( based on insight), the destination dialogue (based on foresight ) and the derivation dialogue (based on hindsight). In each of these one can conduct a dialogue with family, colleagues and friends ,and increase ones understanding As we get older we often have a deeper understanding of our own special gifts- our destiny –which for me is a summation of one’s purpose in life . One’s destiny is a combination one is good at (aptitude) and what one loves doing passion). As we look forward we should be seeking emerging opportunities which are closest to ones destiny. Following your destiny and realising in a forward journey defines ones work – that which one does which gives meaning to ones life. Whether of not this also becomes one’ s employment – earning income from doing ones work – depends on ones own personal priorities. The final dialogue is what I call the derivation dialogue, (based on hindsight) – as we review our journey thus far. We can determine what is the heritage we should keep and nurture and – as we age- consider leaving behind us as a legacy- and what is baggage (the accumulation of experiences, mindsets and behaviours which we should throw out , because its retention will prevent one being a successful future maker. and we are never too old to contemplate one’s baggage and seek to remove it from our lives.

I often ask senior executives this question:

The year is 2050 your children and grand children are standing beside your grave on your birthday. In on sentence how are they remembering you? . Thinking about creating and nurturing the legacy one wants to leave behind is to me a critical part of successful aging.

Keeping resilience into old age: re-imagining future options and possibilities

Aging is associated with decreased physical and mental capabilities. Sometimes we lose the capacity to do something we love to do –playing a sport for example. One door closes, but the challenge is to find now doors to open, new things which one can do within the constraints of one’s current abilities. This can be done by reviewing ones destiny again , one’s aptitude plus passion in the new modified circumstances. Commencing something new or initiating a new relationship can be totally revitalising. As we get older many of us tend to do this less.


Throughout human history ageing has been associated with elderhood . Respect for traditional elderhood disappeared with the rise of modernity and the spread of imperialism and religious evangelism , which placed little respect for old and traditional knowledge. Traditional societies carefully considered what skills and behaviours were necessary for success in the adult world and sought to ensure that these were well learned by the young during a process called initiation during the age of puberty. At this stage the responsibility for raising the young was formally transferred form the parents to the grandparents generation . Initiation of the young, who at puberty are thirsty for sip the cup of adult knowledge were given formal entry into the secrets and responsibilities of adulthood. The elders accepted this responsibility, and this minimises the distress that every parent and child faces at puberty when the relationship between the two is being reconstructed from one based on the child’s dependence into on based on the child’s independence.

We are not only not created successful aging because we have never tried to consider what might constitute successful ageing. We have likewise also failed to envisage and create successful adulthood because, unlike most of our traditional ancestors, we have never tried to consider what might constitute successful adulthood and then established a specific curriculum at puberty to realise it. In our rush to modernity we threw out all this baby with the bathwater. Now with the arrival of post modernity we are starting to bring it back , but again without any coherent vision of successful adulthood. Every teacher I know tells me that year in our secondary school is a waste of time and money. What we should do is reintroduce a universal ‘initiation into adulthood year in about year 9 to teach out young how to be successful adults. At that time the responsibility for the raising of the young was passed from the parents generation to the grandparents generation-to the elders. Imaging a transformed secondary school where elders come back into the education system and help transform the young for successful adulthood. Imagine two associated credentials: one received by the young as a certificate of adulthood on completion of the initiation year and another which is a qualification held by aged people who want to playa r role as elder- perhaps a one year certificate in a university.

Creating a pathway to effective healing, fulfilled wellness and successful ageing

It should be a goal of all public policy to ensure that each of us assumes the maximum possible responsibility to create for themselves their own health and wellness, and to age successfully so they burden the community to the minimum extent. What we need to do is to create a framework so that this becomes possible.

Imagine a pathway—a sort of yellow brick road to realize one or more of the ends of : effective healing, wellness and successful ageing. Each of us should have a vision of ourselves having achieved this successfully. As a motivator, we should bear in mind that the probable future of more of what is happening now will often lead to continuing decline and even a lifetime of palliative care. Doing nothing new will inevitably lead to this outcome.

Along this yellow brick road the travelers should be provided with information about their current status and progress and
be provided with information to enable them to make choices about the next steps on the pathway. Where possible this journey should be undertaken by independent, sensible individuals and communities who accept the responsibility for navigating their own way to effective healing, fulfilled wellness and successful ageing, and who negotiate and accept services from appropriate service providers while traveling down it. The relationship with each provider would be an interdependent one where both parties make mutual obligations so that the benefits of the service are maximized. For example, many people with chronic illnesses can and should visualize and then accept more responsibility for creating their own healing and they should have much better command over their healing and wellness journeys.

There will always be times when the sick, infirm and aged will be incapable of making informed choices and dependent on services. But this should be the exception rather than the rule, which is clearly not the case at present. The majority of us will be able to travel down such a pathway under our own steam most of the time. We should be able to negotiate which services we need and to maximize choices about future directions and service options. Imagine an interactive computer program involving not only IT (information technology ) but also for its 21st century successors KT (knowledge technology) and WT (wisdom technology) as well, which provides a set of guideposts enabling millions to undertake this conceptual journey. It also connects them to service providers, to learner-driven and just-in-time knowledge, and to insights about their current status and the next tasks and possibilities on their journey out of illness (if they are ill) and into wellness or successful ageing. Such a system would not replace interactions with real people such as service providers, but it would enable each person to understand their situation, status and progress, and to establish goals to be sought and realized at each stage of the journey. They could obtain different opinions at different stages in order to minimize risk of misadventure and maximize their forward journey while at the same time accepting responsibility for the choices they make. Such a client-driven process would be a challenge to many current service provision regimes. With wellness services we are currently at liberty to make free market choices as we like and we mostly navigate our own way down a pathway to wellness even if we do not recognize the existence of such a pathway.

When we make choices about our lifestyle we commit ourselves to traveling down a pathway to either increased likelihood of illness or increased likelihood of wellness. Some of us make good choices and act on them, and we travel down a pathway to better health and wellness. Some of us do it badly or not at all. With each cigarette we smoke we travel down a path which shortens our life journey, and with each walk we don’t take we do likewise. However, it would save a lot of health dollars and lead to happier and more productive lives if we were encouraged to make better choices by a mission-directed system.

We could also ensure that all service providers in the healing, wellness and ageing industries have software pathway templates. In this way all their clients can be serviced through case-management programs based on their clients accepting responsibility to walk this pathway themselves and accept
services, support and guidance when it is needed. This would be a case-management system for effective healing, fulfilled wellness and successful ageing.

Ways and wares for successful aging

To create/invent any new future including successful aging we will need many new innovations . Success goes to those who get to the future first. And those who create it have an export industry, provided we market the innovations needed to create successful ageing. I want to introduce on of my core concepts – which I call ‘ways’ and ‘wares’. When we want to achieve a new outcome or future we need to invent the means to get there, and it follows that we must create and market the new innovations needed to realise our goals . Ways are innovations to what we do and to how we behave : Wares are innovations to what we use- new products , services and technologies to accomplish a new sought outcome. Here is an example A water conservation way would be shortening your shower time from six to three minutes. A water conservation ware would be a new low volume shower head. Here are some of the ways and wares we could innovate and market to create successful aging:

• aged and disabled worker support ways and wares. Imagine the innovations that could be developed to enable a disabled person to work in a normal work environment, so that his/her productivity in and fulfillment from work is maximized.
• working-from-home ways and wares. Imagine how we can better connect home office environments with other work environments to enable seamless and productive work outcomes for all.
• aged mobilisation ways and wares. Imagine new ways to help old people remain mobile so that they can visit or go out shopping. Some would involve public transport and some private transport.
• remote aged healing and wellness support ways and wares. Imagine how healing and wellness can be promoted through home visits and the remote delivery of goods and services.
• shopping-from-home ways and wares. There is shopping we enjoy and want to do, and shopping we hate doing and have to do. Shopping perfection involves doing the first ourselves, and replacing the second with home delivery. How could we best do
• aged home services ways and wares. Imagine all the things which could be delivered through an aged people specific home
services industry.
• nursing-home-at-home ways and wares. Think of all the elements which are in a nursing home, how many of these could be delivered remotely into homes, and how.

Aged and disabled worker support ways and wares will keep people in the workplaces for longer: providing, of course, they want to. During Indian Summer Adulthood there should be increased freedom to determine the balance between going to work and working at home, provided that the workplace as a whole does not suffer significantly as a result. Many professionals—lawyers, doctors and teachers—already do this, and now more trades people are joining their ranks. Many baby boomers have rejected the concept of retirement as it has been traditionally understood, are not leaving full-time work as they used to, and continue to work as part-time knowledge workers. Working lives are lengthening and working weeks are shortening in the 21st century. In this way income from work is being derived for longer periods in the often decades-long period of Indian summer adulthood, therefore lessening pressure on superannuation programs and government pensions. Indian Summer Adulthood will therefore be a time when society adjusts to ensure that all those who want to work can do so for as long as they would like to or need to. And governments will need to make the same public investment to provide the physical and social infrastructure for an Indian Summer Adulthood world in the way they have built and funded the operation of schools for the young in past decades.

As for aged mobilisation ways and wares, older people or those who have a disability need to be given the capacity and flexibilityto keep much of the mobility they enjoyed in their earlier lives. How could this be done? Significant advancements in innovation in personal transportation have been developed for the disabled sector, and many of theses innovations can be tailored to the aged. There will be a huge market for these innovations. If an aged person can’t (or shouldn’t) drive a car the employer or the welfare system could provide flexible public transport. This could include vouchers for taxis or dial-a-bus services for work journeys or for going out for shopping or entertainment, or to see friends. How do you feel when you see an old and fragile woman wheeling a heavy shopping wagon back home from the supermarket? There has to be a better way. That better way is a part of the whole Indian Summer Adulthood industry.

Imagine the many aged home services ways and wares which might comprise components of this industry. Another huge industry for aged people is education, which has already started with organisations such as University for the Third Age. In twenty years it is likely that the budget for learning for older people will be as big as the budget for children. As there is some evidence that keeping the brain active is one means of deferring dementia . Imagine aged learning ways and wares. All of these categories of innovations will be in more demand as Indian Summer Adulthood becomes a major focus for our ageing society and all will be important for the creation of successful ageing. There will be many innovations needed to fulfill this journey. Those who create the ways and wares for successful ageing will prosper, for there will be huge global markets for their innovations.

Can you imaging some of the new ways and wares to realise – for example – successful adulthood, to create a nursing home at home, to enable partly disabled to continue to work during Indian Summer Adulthood , to make Elderhood effective in our schools , and to provide new meliors to create greater aged bliss.


I have suggested some ideas about of what might constitute successful ageing. What are your own thoughts?

We need a vision for successful ageing. At present we have what I call a problem centred approach to ageing-when we identify an area of failure and then seek to ameliorate the problem. We dedicated ourselves to removing problems caused by unsuccessful aging not create a vision and a strategic mission to realise successful aging. Irrespective of what you think should be a constituent of successful aging, we all know that merely fixing the obvious failures will not get us to where we want to go. To remove problems from the future merely creates a future which is less awful. To create a magnificent future including one where our society successfully ages, we have to imagine and then discuss what constitutes successful aging. And successful aging for me means that we design it so that the ageing remain in command of their lives and future to the maximum possible extent, and they ensure that they are effective future makers.

We cannot work to create a future which we do not first imagine.


The G20 Summit : This time we are all on the same side and we will put the planet first.

March 18, 2009

The G20, the Presidents and Prime Ministers will meet in London on 2 April. This meeting is both short-term urgent and long-term important as the world is facing challenges as great as any faced by humanity since the end of World War 2. The transfer of action from the narrowly based Eurocentric G8 -which consists of the USA, Canada, , Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Russia , Japan – to the more multicultural G20 is immensely important . Not only does this transfer decision making power to what is now 85% of world GDP, but it also draws participation from a wide diversity of cultures with countries such as South Africa, Argentina, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Brazil, China, South Korea, India, The European Union, Turkey and Australia being added to the G8 group of collaborative participators who will meet in London. The official web page succinctly outlines the challenges before the G20:

First, to take whatever action is necessary to stabilise financial markets and enable families and businesses to get through the recession.

Second, to reform and strengthen the global financial and economic system to restore confidence and trust.

Third, to put the global economy on track for sustainable growth.

The third item of sustainable growth is broken down to further three components
Trade, jobs and skills – This includes kick restarting and completing the Doha Round of trade negotiations by the end of this year to ensure that trade becomes even more open and free and nationalist retreats to increased protectionism are avoided.
A low carbon recovery. This involves meeting the threats and taking the opportunities posed by global warming and commit the world to reach an agreement for post 2012 in Copenhagen also by the end of 2009, and
Providing for the poorest . This includes assisting the world’s poor to utilise this increased global trade and investment to lift themselves out of poverty so that the 21st century is not characterized by what Nelson Mandela describes as ‘islands of plenty in seas of poverty’. This also involves the globalisation of responsibility as well as of trade and investment.

So the year 2009 will become a year for collaborative purposeful action to realise some very significant shared global goals. The reason for this is because this meeting will be characterised by another feature which is genuinely new. In all of these critical agendas humanity faces danger as a single global entity, it is perhaps equivalent to the planet collaborating to face an invasion of the Earth from outer space. We must collaborate and not let our differences undermine our work. In this case there will be no option for some to win and some to lose: we all will win or we all will lose. Now we must collaborate as if we are members of a single planetary tribe.

Indeed the current global suite of interconnected crises, could be the very thing to remind us that we are living on a planetary spaceship, and that we must collaborate like members of its cosmonaut crew rather than as cowboys who can do as they like on the range, and settle our differences by competition and confrontation. Our capacity to do great collateral damage to each other has reached the point that we have no choice other than to accept our collective responsibility to reach agreements which Garret Hardin described as ‘mutual coercion mutually agreed upon’.

The positive value of such diversity and purposeful collaboration will be immense. The first result is likely to be a global economic recovery which will be much more rapid than many people fear. We have never before experienced such a broadly based purposeful collaborative effort before, and as a result of this collective effort economic recovery by the end of 2009 is likely to be substantial. The meeting will achieve a result to eliminate the threat caused by trillions of dollars of toxic assets because the costs of not doing so in terms of stimulating banks to lend more is unacceptable.

For the first time in human history we are starting to recognise that we are not only nationalists but planetists as well. When John Howard said that signing the Kyoto protocol was not in the national interest, many of us disagreed because we regarded that signing this protocol was in the planetary interest, and that now the planet must have priority over the nation. The first allegiance of 1.5 billion people, including the rapidly growing global educated middle class, increasingly goes to planet first and nation second. Nations and corporations are now very aware that permitting corporate, national or individual greed and self interest to run riot has created much of the current planetary mess we now collectively face. In a world of growing interdependence and interconnectedness adherence to planetism- putting the needs of the planet first – is growing. One of the key transformation which is occurring with the birth of planetism is that the world is becoming less individualistic and more communitarian Just as we no longer tolerate individual smokers who smoke in a café and cause collateral damage to the rest of us, we will, within 20 years, treat those whose individual countries and corporations who release climate changing smoke into the planetary atmosphere as pariahs similar to a smoker in a café in 2009. And we will similarly treat as pariahs those who endanger us all through individual or corporate greed

We are now recognising that the planet and its peoples must come first, thereby affirming John Donne who said 400 hundred years ago that ‘no man is an island entire of itself, everyone is part of the continent part of the main‘ and that ‘we are involved in mankind’.

While regulation will have its place, these historic challenges being faced by the G20 will mostly be achieved by market based processes and the arrival into the global market place of innovations to facilitate a global transformation which eliminates the dangers which face the world and the G20. There will be a huge global market demand for new innovations , new products and services to realise the new transformed world we must create out of agreements reached in London. Most of the social, political and technological innovations needed to create a sustainably prosperous planetary society in the 21st century have yet to be invented. The birth of planetism as a global set of values will inform what new products and services will enter world markets in the next few decades. If we understand the dominant values in the year 2029, we will then know what people will value and find valuable in the year 2029. What they value and find to be valuable they will want more of and therefore create global market demands for more of what is valuable. There are nine value shifts associated with the emergence of planetism as a global paradigm and these values are the very values which are needed to deal which the challenges faced by the G20 in on 2 April.

When we consider what innovations which will be needed in the next few decades, it is useful to define two types of innovations. I call these ‘ways’ and ‘wares’. ‘Ways’ are those innovations which involve changes to beliefs and behaviours- changes to what we do. ‘Wares’ are innovations, new things we use – new tools and technologies. A simple example: a water conservation ‘way’ is shortening your shower time to 3 minutes : a water conservation ‘ware’ is a new low volume shower head. By combining these ways and the wares we conserve water. In terms of the huge global ecological challenges we face in the 21st century we need ways and wares for four different purposes : to live within perpetual solar income, to turn waste into food, to achieve outcomes with zero net collateral damage, and to protect biodiversity. There are hundreds of similar categories of ways and wares which will be needed to realise a sustainably prosperous global society which will enter global markets in the next two decades.

So as the G20 faces up to its huge task we should recognise the emerging opportunities for the creation of new ways and wares to transform the world between now and the year 2050, as well and the shorter term threats inherent in the challenges the G20 and the world is facing. The world faces challenges of great magnitude even more threatening than when the world was divided into two armed camps and facing the threat of global nuclear war and a nuclear winter 30 years ago. But this time we are all on the same side, and the enemy is the darker side of ourselves, so the chances of a rapid turnabout of our fortunes are excellent.

On 2 April these G20 Presidents and Prime Ministers will intuitively recognise that the time has come for them to recognise the they must now work as planetists and that the time for continued adherence to national interests has gone. They will accept their global responsibility and this meeting will become a key historic and transformative moment in the 21st century.

Dr Peter Ellyard is a Melbourne based futurist and strategist. His latest book Designing 2050 :Pathways to sustainable prosperity on Spaceship Earth was launched by the Governor of Victoria Professor David de Krester on 20 February .


The Governor of Victoria’s Speech

March 9, 2009

Below is a transcript of the speech given by The Governor of Victoria, Professor David de Kretser, A.C., at the launch of Peter Ellyard’s new book “Designing 2050”, 20th February 2009.

“Designing 2050: Pathways to Sustainable Prosperity on Spaceship Earth”

Reverend Tim Costello
CEO, World Vision Australia
and Mrs Merri die Costello

Dr Peter Ellyard
Chairman, Preferred Futures Group
Author of “Designing 2050: Pathways to Sustainable Prosperity on Spaceship Earth”

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners and custodians of the land on which we stand, the Kulin Nations, and pay my respect to their elders past and present.

I am very pleased to be here this evening to launch Dr Ellyard’s most recent work “Designing 2050: Pathways to Sustainable Prosperity on Spaceship Earth”. When approached to launch a book, I automatically ask the question, why me? I guess having a Governor launch a book might serve to attract people to the launch and hence boost early sales. I hope that was not the only reason Peter. Before making a decision I always look at the title to see whether it attracts me and whether it is a topic of importance. Certainly, the title grabbed my attention as it address a fascinating concept of the earth being likened to a spaceship and further attracts the reader who may be interested in the whole topic of sustainable prosperity. Some might argue that the two are incompatible, namely sustainability and prosperity. By now, I am half way to a positive response to launch the book.
I then make the final judgement as to whether the author can be considered as an authority on the subject and here I was completely sold on taking on the task. Peter Ellyard is highly qualified to address this topic having been actively involved in matters environmental and planning and the Executive Director of the Australian Commission for the Future together with more recent activities with the Preferred Futures Group, which aims to promote long term strategic thinking in defining the future direction of our country and our community.
What better qualifications when combined with a scientific background in the field of biochemistry.

This is indeed a book for this time in the world’s history for we face the challenges of rampant consumerism with little thought for the future; the want it now and can’t wait culture. We are challenged by the issue of climate change and global warming that cannot be answered by our own personal actions, nor the actions of our local community, nor the actions of a nation but only by a global response. The sceptics will roll their eyes and produce arguments about the data supporting the reality of climate change. So before I further explore Peter Ellyard’s book, let me just remind you of a few facts to set the scene.

Here are a few thoughts:
 All of us seek better health and longer life and medical science is enabling this to happen.
 The population of the world is predicted to rise from 6 billion today to 9 billion by 2050.
 Pollution from transport, powerhouses and industry today kills a million people annually and is responsible for the ill health of millions more. A recent report indicated that the average life expectancy of a traffic policeman in Beijing is 42 years
 Daily we read about environmental degradation of water supplies and the land in many countries and also of emerging global food shortages.
 We have already passed the peak of oil availability and need to conserve oil as a fuel for functions where there is no other alternative
 The developing nations such as India, China and Indonesia require a 5 fold increase in energy expenditure per head of population for each of their citizens to reach a standard of living comparable to ours especially if they uncritically accept our consumer driven lifestyle. Such a lifestyle is easily visible by those from the developing world due the extraordinary development of instantaneous visualisation of all we do through the communication revolution through which we are living.
These are the forces that are driving the need for global equity. Global equity to me means that by 2050, all the people in the world should have been given the opportunity to reach the same level of life style as in developed countries. However, if that were to occur, my conclusion is that we will leave a very degraded planet unless we each develop a more sustainable lifestyle, using energy from renewable sources, so that our environmental footprint is considerably smaller. Note, in the last few minutes I have not used the words climate change or global warming, both matters that augment the urgency of addressing all of the issues that I mentioned
We require global solutions not only this issue but also to the most recent economic crisis, a crisis that provides a wonderful example that the nations of the world are now inexorably linked to each other.
The early chapters in Ellyard’s book trace the progress towards globalisation, a journey that is by no means complete and yet one that we will need if we are to achieve the outcomes necessary for the survival of our planet. In discussing progress towards globalisation and the forces that oppose it, the book takes the reader through the past history of the world as we move from a tribal culture to one of nationhood and global networks or organisations such as the European Union. Ellyard builds the case for continued progress to a global economy assisting the reader to appreciate the benefits of a global society. He states “ Globalisation can provide a route for the development of a sustainable and prosperous planetary society in the next generation, provided that globalisation itself becomes more civilised than it is right now” He challenges us to “develop visions, strategies, design and innovation, not just for surviving but for thriving in this new globalising society.” To drive home this message Ellyard builds the case that the earth should be considered as our “spaceship” to convince the reader that we exist in space on a relatively small fragile planet whose atmosphere, resources and environment is critical to our survival. The views from the space of this earth help to get the message that we are in a fragile state and remind us that to date no other planet provides the conditions that would enable the earth’s biodiversity to survive.
These early chapters define the terminology that is used throughout the book which requires us to grasp the concept of planetism and the need for a cosmonaut culture and he compares and contrasts this to the modernist philosophy and cowboy culture of the 1960s.

I cannot do justice to a book of 507 pages divided into 13 chapters in 15-20 minutes. Ellyard builds very cogent arguments for the need to change and to build a vision for the society we have to have by 2050, if we are not only survive but to thrive on spaceship earth into the future. He does more than that in this book. He sets out the tools to enable each of us to contribute to the change required to achieve a sustainable environment with a population that fits comfortably on spaceship earth.
A critical requirement is for visionary leaders not managers as we travel through unchartered waters to create the required sustainable economy and environment. The book assists the reader in defining the differences between leaders and managers but it can be summed up in a quotation of George Bernard Shaw that is used in this book which states ‘Some people see things as they are and ask why? I see things as they could be and ask why not?
The book explores other needs that are required to achieve this transformation such as the process of learning and the quality and design of a curriculum that assists us to learn for life. He emphasizes the need for innovation and design, for civilising globalisation and the pathways to sustainability and prosperity, inclusive of ecological prosperity, social prosperity and cultural prosperity.

The Preferred Futures website asks us to consider “What will be the future if we do not change direction or make a new choice about the future?” This question asks us to consider the direct impacts of our action – or inaction –on our future.

There are many issues that have developed over the course of the last few decades, which, if we consider them in the light of the future we are creating for the next generation, should shape our community and the way we live for many years to come.

Perhaps the greatest of two of these that face us now is the continuing issue of climate change and a sustainable future and the economic crisis that has engulfed us over the past 12 months. History tells us that past economic crises are time limited albeit with considerable hardship over those years. However in an evolutionary time scale such events would be barely detectable. Yet, both issues challenge us to make choices as to how we act over the next few years and force us to put values to all that we do.
What is really important to us? If economic stimulation is required, how should we spend our money? Should it prop up rampant consumerism that takes no note of the reality that we live on a planet with finite resources? Or should it be spent on building a sustainable lifestyle that emphasizes the values of a society that cares for this planet, that cares for and values its biodiversity, that creates a framework where citizens respect each other, where children and adolescents are nurtured, mentored and cared for and in return who respect the older generations for their wisdom and contributions?
These are vitally important questions at this juncture that we all must consider not just for ourselves, but for the global community? How can we alter the course that has evolved over the last 40-50 years? This book gives us the tools to be able to analyse what we do and to change course. Of course changing human behaviour is not an easy task but one that is critical if we are to move in the right direction.

The Preferred Futures website suggests that “people only change their behaviour because of two feelings: fear and hope… If a probable future scenario indicates that potential crisis or disaster is ahead it will generate fear-which becomes the catalyst of change.”

The issues of climate change certainly provide us with enough fodder for fear, and there is plenty of scientific evidence to justify that fear in the face of the uncertain future of our planet.

Clear communication and consistent messages are critical and here, coordinated planning and action across different sectors of our economy and life style is required for maximum effectiveness.

To me, community education is critical to enable the stage to be set for government action to legislate to change people’s life-styles, otherwise, with short electoral time-frames, governments are reluctant to enact unpopular legislation. Unlike war-time approaches where people have tangible evidence of life-threatening issues, climate change is insidious and slow to demonstrate its effects.

The community needs to know that there is hope for the future, that climate change isn’t a lost cause, and that there are things we can do now to halt and, eventually, reverse the impacts of climate change.

What does this mean at the personal level? There is only one conclusion in the short term. We must change our behaviour and aspirations as our lifestyles are unsustainable. In Designing 2050, Dr Ellyard describes a sustainable society as “…one where all forms of behaviour – production, consumption, development and lifestyles – are sustainable”. And while industry must lead by example, and alter the way in which goods are produced and developed, we are all able to alter our consumption and our lifestyles immediately to ensure that our day to day lives are as sustainable as possible. We must cut energy usage to buy time to change our infrastructure and to allow research and development to provide new solutions. Every molecule of carbon dioxide released today sits in the atmosphere for about 100 years.
Designing 2050 provides an important contribution to the debate about our future, and outlines a way in which we can be “future makers” – a way in which we can control the destiny of our planet and of future generations through our actions and behaviour, rather than remaining on our current course, content to blame those who have gone before us for the issues we today must face.

Dr Ellyard asks us to take risks, rather than accepting the future as a destiny we do not have the power to influence. You may not agree with all that he says but he will stimulate you to think about the issues.

Ellyard does not give you all the answers. He hints at them but provides you with the important tools to answer the questions. He will help you to commence the journey to a sustainable future, a journey that will not be short, a journey that will not be easy, a journey that will require behavioural and structural change but a journey that we have to take for the future generations.
A quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson sums up the journey “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave behind a trail”

Dr Ellyard’s work has given us the opportunity of considering for ourselves what our future may hold – and the ways in which we all hold the power to alter that future. I congratulate him on this important contribution. It is now with great pleasure that I officially launch “Designing 2050: Pathways to Sustainable Prosperity on Spaceship Earth”.

Thank you.


“Designing 2050” available now!

March 20, 2008

Order your copy of “Designing 2050” online from or order it from any Australian bookstore!

If you are in Melbourne, try The Paperback Bookshop.

Listen to a brand new podcast recorded with Peter in March 2009!

Designing 2050

Designing 2050

An inspirational blueprint for those wanting to be future makers rather than future takers, this book offers a third choice. According to Peter Ellyard – former Executive Director for the Australian Commission For The Future – we are at a tipping point in history. Globalisation, increased technological and social innovation,the growth of the educated middle class and democracy, and a shared awareness of our ecological vulnerability are combining to offer us a chance of designing sustainable, diverse societies which are prosperous in every way.

You can watch a 10 minute video of Peter Ellyard being interview by his publisher Cameron Reilly of The Podcast Network, recorded 5th June 2008:

If you want to discuss with Peter and others how you can become a future maker, join our Facebook group “The Future Makers Club” and participate in regular online discussions with similar-minded people from around the world.