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Don’t give up hope! Despite the barrage of unwelcome environmental news, there is a way to perceive our world and our place in the biosphere with fresh eyes. Deep reverence for nature, economic opportunity and a sustainable future are possible! ZERI, standing for Zero Emissions Research & Initiatives, is a design methodology based on nature’s principles and a global network of citizens dedicated to creating a healthier world. At its heart, ZERI incorporates the by-products of one system into a value added input for another system. For example, waste from coffee plantations are being used as a mulch base for the growing of shitake mushrooms, a major cash crop.
ZERI connects the needs of people with concepts of applied science, the complimentary nature of systems and the incentive of economic growth. It uses nature as a mentor at a time when immediate positive action is desperately needed. Using the laws of physics, chemistry and other sciences, ZERI proponents have made breakthroughs in realms such as water purification, waste recycling and optimized farming techniques… all as profitable ventures.
We recently caught up with Gunter Pauli, founder and director of ZERI just prior to his accepting Japan’s Global Environment Award from Fuji TV. Gunter is an internationally renowned business leader, author, and educator. He works closely as an adviser to the UN, oversees a wide variety of projects around the globe, and is fluent in 7 languages. We asked Gunter if he was optimistic about our future.
Pauli: We just can’t be continuing with the negative analysis of everything that we see… because if we want to make a negative analysis, we have all the data to support it….But if we are, in our minds, determined to be positive, we have all the reasons to be positive, as well!
He sees abundance and opportunity where others see scarcity and problems.
Pauli: Just imagine what we can do about hunger in the world! Just imagine what we can do about malnutrition in the world! Does it still make sense to aid the poor and provide perhaps some food stamps?? Or does it just make more sense to just say…l let’s all just realize what we have. Let’s be blessed with the generosity of everything we have before us , and let’s just say from now on we’re going to make use of it instead of just discard(ing) it. Let’s open up our eyes! Let’s see the truth before us instead of being in despair and saying that you know there is no future and our water is too polluted and we don’t have enough food and the food is very bad…and if you wanted to go that way you can. The time has come to be positive and do something about it!
To realize a sustainable future, the way we educate ourselves and our children must be radically altered. ZERI has developed a UN sanctioned, systems-based educational approach, using conceptual fairy tales as a framework for students to expand their learning skills. The Fairy Tales introduce kids to the study of nature’s designs in the context of present day issues of sustainability. Not only is the interconnectedness of all life demonstrated by this curriculum, students gradually learn to… think, see, and design using an integrated systems approach.
ZERI methodology explores nature-based values and solutions, which help create a meaningful context for learning. The students are energized by this approach as they realize that their education has become relevant. They recognize that they are being given valuable new tools with which they can become active participants in dreaming and designing a world of new opportunities.
Pauli: The 21st Century requires us to build on what we don’t know and that’s why its exciting for everyone who has that little child still alive in them. (That) We want to wake up and say hey, we are in a powerful discovery. We don’t have to go to the Moon or to Mars for it! We’re just staying home. And we can start in our backyard and figure out what we are not giving value to, which gives us the opportunity to really respond to all the basic needs…. for water, for food, for healthcare, for shelter, for energy… creating jobs and providing stimulating learning opportunities for everyone within a (the) context that’s very generous, very ethical, very social.
We asked Gunter how we might best proceed to help bring about this wonderful new world he envisions.
Pauli: The key challenge for the present generation that is in power and that is kind of leading the world to where we are going …is to take time and create space for young people to be inspired and to imagine their world which we, as adults, consider a fairy tale. But for them, is reality.
If you would like to learn more about Gunter Pauli and Zeri, please visit our website, for related links, at gooddirtradio.org.
I’m Tom Bartels and I’m Tami Graham. Thanks for joining us on GOOD DIRT RADIO. Digging up good news….for a change.