The Natural Advantage of Nations

RRP: Paperback £24.99 (ISBN 9781844073405) and Hardback £75.00 (ISBN 9781844071210) from Routledge

         Paperback AU$54.50 (ISBN 9781844073405) from EA Books


Title: The Natural Advantage of Nations (Vol. I): Business Opportunities, Innovation and Governance in the 21st Century

Forewords: Amory Lovins,William McDonough, Alan AtKisson, Hunter Lovins, and Michael Fairbanks

Lead Authors and Editors: Karlson ‘Charlie’ Hargroves and Michael H. Smith of The Natural Edge Project.

Citation: Hargroves, K. and Smith, M. (2005) The Natural Advantage of Nations: Business Opportunities, Innovation and Governance in the 21st Century, The Natural Edge Project, Earthscan, London.

Co-Authors and Contributors; Alan AtKisson, Alan Pears, Alan Tate, Andrew Smith, Anna MacKenzie, Bruce Paten, Cheryl Paten, Chika Saka, Chris Ryan, Colin Butler, Craig Townsend, David Dumaresq, Dexter Dunphy, Elizabeth Heij, Geoff McAlpine, Gerry Gillespie, Hugh Forde, Hunter Lovins, Janis Birkeland, Jaya Pillai, Jeff Kenworthy, Joe Herbertson, Mark Diesendorf, Mike Krockenburger, Paul Weaver, Peter Newman, Philip Sutton, Rob McLean, Rob Murray-Leach, Roger Burritt, Sasha Courville, Shaun Mays, Stefan Schaltegger, Stephen Dovers, Tobias Hahn, Tricia Caswell, Valerie Brown, Walter Link, Wayne Wescott, and Yolande Strengers.

Published: Earthscan/James & James in January 2005 (1844071219)


TNEP Education Coordinator Cheryl Paten.

Why read The Natural Advantage of Nations?

On the 4th of April 2005, former Governor General Sir Ninian Stephen led the Australian launch of The Natural Advantage of Nations to a full house of business, government and civil society leaders at the ‘National Business Leader’s Forum for Sustainable Development’ in Melbourne. On the 6th of July 2005, Alan AtKisson led the European launch of the book at the Frontline Club in London with publishers Earthscan/James&James.

Collated and edited by a group of young Australian engineers and scientists from a group called The Natural Edge Project , this book is one of the first to bring together leaders from business, government, civil society, academia and NGOs to demonstrate how it is possible and profitable to achieve sustainable development in our lifetimes.

It is increasingly recognised that we need to achieve sustainable development (development that improves not just the economic bottom line but the integrated bottom line of economic, social and environmental well being). As Western Australian premier Geoff Gallop stated, ‘for many years we pursued economic, environmental and social goals in isolation from each other. We have come to recognise that our long-term well-being depends as much on the promotion of a strong, vibrant society and the ongoing repair of our environment as it does on the pursuit of economic development. Indeed, it is becoming obvious that these issues cannot be separated. The challenge is to find new approaches to development that contribute to our environment and society now without degrading them over the longer term.’

With over 30 authors and contributors, The Natural Advantage of Nations pulls together a stunning thesis showing for the first time that, wisely applied, the pursuit of sustainable development can lead to higher than business-as-usual economic growth, increased employment, while also solving our social and environmental problems. The book shows that significant decoupling of economic growth with environmental load on the planet is possible. This is a vitally important book for the world, especially when, driven by China, the world economy continues to grow rapidly and pressure on the environment continues to increase. This book draws a bold vision of an ecologically sustainable future and tells us how to get there by building on the lessons of competitive advantage theory. It provides a remarkable synthesis of the latest from the fields of sustainability, economics, innovation, business and governance.

This is not another book of nice ideas. The Natural Advantage of Nations covers the latest most significant developments in the actual day to day practice of sustainable development by business, government, institutions, civil society, universities, research and development organisations, and educational institutions from around the world.

Numerous leading experts have lent their support to this book because it shows that pursuing sustainable development in any organisation and on any scale, nationally and internationally, is no longer a walk into the unknown. In fact, as this book shows, in many cases the solutions already exist and are being implemented by companies, governments, civil society groups, churches, trade unions, universities, schools and professional bodies around the world. The book provides demonstrably relevant and successful solutions, already being applied, of which its authors have first hand experience. These are people who are working at the ‘coal face’ (or should we say ‘solar face’) of change, having been either a part of these processes of reform within significant institutions or advisors to them.

Nick and Charlie with Bob Hawke and Blanche d’Alpuget

Imagine if, as in the Netherlands, every government initiated a program to work out how they could achieve a 90 percent plus reduction of their negative environmental impacts over the next 50 years? Imagine if, as in Western Australia, every state or regional government worked with business, universities and civil society in a spirit of partnership to develop a sustainability strategy? Imagine if every state or regional government committed to halving its ecological footprint over the next 20 years like WA has? Imagine if, as in Goa, a state in India, every nation’s experts tackled the challenge of how to create sustainable cities cost effectively in 30 years?

The lessons of these ground breaking programs are recounted in this book so that any nation, any regional government can learn from these programs and confidently set their own ambitious targets.

Earthscan/James & James, the largest publisher of sustainability books in the world with over 4000 titles currently in print, has stated that, ‘coupled with a companion website, the book The Natural Advantage of Nations is nothing less than the most authoritative and comprehensive guide to building the new sustainable economy.’ Earthscan/James & James have demonstrated their belief in the book by choosing it as one of the three to be promoted at the back of the recently published 30 year update of the classic sustainability text Limits to Growth and have featured the book on their site homepage. The book is currently the 6th bestseller of all of Earthscan/James&James’ 4000 titles.

Cheryl Paten with Earthscan’s Rob West at

the Launch of ‘The Natural Advantage of Nations’ in London.

The breadth of scope of the book means that it truly has something for anyone. Whatever your line of work, whatever your organisation, this book and its online companion gives you access to the latest thinking to help you achieve sustainable development in your own context. While written clearly for the layperson it is also academically extremely rigorous with over 1500 notes and references. In addition there are over 500 freely downloadable references on the book’s companion web site. Therefore this book will be a significant asset to any student, teacher or researcher.

Finally the book’s publication is timely, as 2005 marks the start of the United Nations Decade of Education in Sustainable Development. The book will provide a key resource for educational bodies seeking to play their part to ensure all school, tertiary and vocational education graduates have critical literacies in sustainable development. Above all, the book shows that Australia has truly world leading expertise and capacity in this area. It shows, as Hunter Lovins discussed at the National Press Club, that Australia can indeed lead the next wave of innovation and truly become a ‘sustainability superpower’.