As ecological, economic, and social crises deepen, human societies are seeking new designs for a sustainable and desirable world. Although it is widely recognized that isolated initiatives will not form an adequate response to our interconnected plights, current efforts to promote sustainability rarely pervade all aspects of our lives. Our failure to craft holistic solutions is due, in part, to the lack of a shared vision of what a sustainable world looks like.

Envisioning is a process in which community members collectively identify shared values, describe the future they seek, and develop a plan to achieve common goals.1 Envisioning complements more traditional forms of planning, serving as a tool for determining community desires and initiating the process of change. It generally begins by establishing consensus on a community’s goals and desires through public forums and group discussions.

Our civilization’s challenge is to create a positive and detailed vision of a sustainable and desirable future. This needs to be a future in which living in harmony with nature enhances everyone’s quality of life, a future that can captivate and motivate the public, a future that we are proud to bestow on our grandchildren. Until we create and widely share this vision, we have no hope of achieving it.

The Solutions Journal is initiating an envisioning process among our readers. We encourage you to actively participate in this process. On our website, you can respond to the following questions, which will help us craft a shared vision of the future:

  • What does a sustainable and desirable world look like?
  • Which worldview, or shared belief system, should predominate?
  • How should we design society’s physical infrastructure (including our buildings, transportation systems, energy networks, and industries)?
  • How should we manage natural capital (the goods and services provided by nature)?
  • How should we educate ourselves?
  • How should we govern and make decisions?
  • What should the economy look like?
  • What should characterize our social interactions?
  • Which factors should weigh most heavily in our quality of life?
  • What should our societal priorities be?

Come to and contribute to the development of a shared vision!


Robert Costanza

Robert Costanza is Chair of Public Policy at the Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University. He has authored or coauthored over 350 scientific papers, and reports on his work have...

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