The Sustainable Selling initiative is driven by a growing body of research that says the old growth paradigms of the 20th century are no longer viable. There are many groups and professional bodies rethinking and reframing growth.
The Cluetrain Manifesto and The Smart Growth Manifesto () are good examples of thoughtful thinking which challenging our 20th century business growth paradigms. These initiatives and others are highlighting issues and opportunities such as:
- 20th century capitalism is eating itself… Today's leaders are plugging dikes, bailing out industries and banks as they fail. Yet, what negative global growth suggests is that the problem is of a different order: that we have reached the boundaries of a kind of growth.
- Reigniting growth requires rethinking growth… Tomorrow's growth won't come from a person, place, or technology - but from understanding why yesterday's growth has failed. We have to reboot growth: the problem is not what is growing versus what is not, but how we grow.
- 20th century growth was dumb. Dumb growth is unsustainable. Dumb growth is unfair. Dumb growth is brittle
- 21st century economies will be powered by smart growth. Not all growth is created equal. Some kinds of growth are more valuable than others. Where dumb growth is unsustainable, unfair, and brittle, smart growth is sustainable, equitable, and resilient.
- Smart economies are driven by smart growth. The four pillars of smart growth are design principles for next-generation economies. 20th century economies are limited to unsustainable, unfair, brittle, dumb growth. Smart growth is more sustainable, equitable, and resilient.
- Capitalism 2.0 cannot be powered by growth.1.0: that's why the race for smart growth is inevitable. The economic pressure -- the potential for value creation, in a world being ripped apart by value destruction -- is simply too great.
- A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter—and getting smarter faster than most companies.
The Brundtland Report formalised ideas around Sustainable Development providing the basis for practical application of the principles of sustainability in the real world. They propose that Sustainable Development is not a fixed state of harmony, but rather a process of change in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development and institutional change are made consistent with future as well as present needs.
Cradle to Cradle Design is one example of some clever thinking and action to around sustainable development. Cradle to Cradle Design is a biomimetic approach to the design of systems. It models human industry on nature's processes in which materials are viewed as nutrients circulating in healthy, safe metabolisms. It suggests that industry must protect and enrich ecosystems and nature's biological metabolism while also maintaining safe, productive technical metabolism for the high-quality use and circulation of organic and synthetic materials. Put simply, it is a holistic economic, industrial and social framework that seeks to create systems that are not just efficient but essentially waste free. The model in its broadest sense is not limited to industrial design and manufacturing; it can be applied to many different aspects of human civilization such as urban environments, buildings, economics and social systems.
The Victorian Government and VECCI initiative www.Carboncompass.com.au was launched in April 2010. Carbon Compass is a place where small and medium businesses can find knowledge, share information and get practical advice on how to reduce their carbon footprint. The website has been developed to help us understand what carbon is and where it exists in our businesses. It is designed to help us make our businesses more sustainable. The carbon, climate change and sustainability solutions they host have been recommended by businesses for businesses.