The King’s Challenge

One of the articles in Living Together (IC#29)
Originally published in Summer 1991 on page 8
Copyright (c)1991, 1996 by Context Institute

Sweden’s King Carl Gustav has established a nation-wide competition for Sweden’s local governments. This "Environment Competition" challenges counties to implement ecologically sound programs, and will reward those which have made outstanding progress with projects or planning.

Targeted activities include utilization of sustainable energy sources, "courageous prohibitions," citizen participation, innovative "cooperation between industry and commerce," traffic reorganization, and sound land and water restoration programs. Much emphasis is placed on creativity and innovation – the "unconventional" is specifically encouraged. In conjuction with the prize distribution in 1992, some of Sweden’s leading experts will hold a symposium on ecological planning for local governments.

The King has been a supporter of "The Natural Step" (see IC #28, p.10), an organization that sent educational materials about environmental sustainability (with an introduction by the King) to virtually every household in Sweden.

Both the King’s Environmental Competition and The Natural Step strongly emphasize the necessity for all of us to shift from linear economic activities to ones that are cyclic. They point out that with the advent of industrialization, people have been creating something – garbage – that has little place in the cyclic systems of nature.

The King’s challenge is our challenge: learning to create "a tight resource technology, with long-lasting, quality products"; to recycle and reuse; to stop creating garbage, especially "molecular garbage" – products or byproducts so poisonous their reintegration into natural cycles lies in the unforseeable future; and to respect the cycles of life all around us that are a form of "capital." The King reminds us we can live well – and sustainably – on the "interest" if we are wise.

 

Thanks to Ingela Abbott, Ann Marie Fauvelle, Maria Saraste-Albrecht, and Sonja Wallberg-Gidlund who translated the King’s Environmental Competition from the Swedish for IC.

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