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Greedy Frogs, Balanced Humans, and Improvisational Music


The world of FROG! is a familiar world—at least at first. In this scenario, many nations experience a fair degree of economic success; and for almost all, economic growth is the major concern, with sustainable development acknowledged to be important, but not pressing. Environmentalist NGOs continue to demand enforcement of standards set at global summits, but those nations striving to develop economically argue that, if the developed nations insist on raising environmental standards, they should "First Raise Our Growth!" Indeed, in this scenario, some nations leapfrog from underdeveloped status to benchmarker in particular areas of technology [e.g., go solar and avoid power lines]. People in western nations respond in uneven ways—sometimes by offering help, and sometimes in raising various cries of "FROG!" themselves, especially in response to perceived threats from underdeveloped nations in the areas of unemployment, copyrights, and patent infringement.

In the FROG! scenario, people value sustainable development—but it is not the top priority. In the early years, environmental health in many areas improves significantly. Improvement in local air quality, solid waste management, and environmental education leads to a perception that the environment is in much better shape than it was in the late 1990s. But at the global level, the picture is less clear. With economic growth and the increase in population, greenhouse gases are rising, unnoticed by most. The signals are difficult to read, and people disagree about what they mean. Both the difficulty and the disagreement are good reasons, it is felt, to continue to "First Raise Our Growth!" But there is evidence by 2050 that the darkest predictions about global warming are actually nearer to the truth than the more optimistic ones.

In FROG!, the habitual reliance on technology has not been sufficient to solve long-term problems of either environmental or social health. Globilisation and liberalisation of markets, along with the pressures of rapid urbanisation, have raised the degree of social inequity and unrest to a level that threatens basic survival of both human and environmental ecosystems.

In this scenario, people react like the proverbial frog. When placed in boiling water, the frog leaped out of danger; but placed in cold water that was gradually heated to the boiling point, the complacent frog was boiled to death.


GEOpolity begins with a succession of signals—some real, some imagined—in the first two decades in which an environmental and social crisis looms. The prevailing "economic myth" is increasingly viewed as dangerously narrow. This is particularly true in Asia, where rapid economic growth has meant that corners have been cut and traditions lost. Because many institutions, especially governments, have lost credibility as problem solvers, people expect something from the new centres of power—multinationals. But the business sector seems unable or unwilling to respond adequately. Business is distrusted—and in some cases, because of its prevailing focus on narrow self-interest, it is perceived to be hindering solutions to problems. Its actions are not coordinated on a global level, and it seems to lack the will even to address the problems.

Because neither governments nor businesses are effective in providing leadership, people begin to look for new leaders and to demand new social institutions. Some of these involve the strengthening of government—for example, "sustainable cities," "sustainable national accounting," and comprehensive implementation of industrial ecology. Others are politically innovative. The perceived need for strong and certain responses leads to a new global consensus that welcomes technocratic solutions, sanctions, and more direct control of the market, to ensure that environmental values and social cohesion are preserved. The impetus behind all these movements is the growing consensus that the market has no inherent incentives to protect the commons, social welfare, or any other non-economic values. In the absence of leadership from business and government to solve problems, people form new global institutions. One such is the Global Ecosystem Organisation (GEO), which has broad powers to design and enforce global standards and measures to protect the environment and preserve society—even if doing so requires economic sacrifice.

In GEOpolity, governments are rejuvenated as focal points of civil society. Governments seek to work with markets rather than displace them. But they take the lead in shifting the structure of the economy towards sustainable development in conjunction with institutions such as GEO.


In the world of Jazz, diverse players join in ad hoc alliances to solve social and environmental problems in the most pragmatic possible way. The keynote of this scenario is dynamic reciprocity. This is a world of social and technological innovations, experimentation, rapid adaptation, much voluntary interconnectedness, and a powerful and ever-changing global market. Businesses believe they cannot operate against the greater good for long.

What enables the quick learning and subsequent innovation in Jazz is high transparency—the widespread availability of information about ingredients in products; sources of inputs; company financial, environmental, and social data; government decision-making processes; and almost anything else concerned consumers want to know. Many players are involved, in part because of the way information continues to level the playing field. The challenge to both business and government is encouraging transparency within their organisations.

Government is most active at the local level. Ad hoc local and global institutions arise to solve particular problems. Mediation becomes a major method of problem solving. In this world, where transparency is required, particular "green" behaviours are not the major focus, even though such behaviours are rewarded. Achievement of the new environmental and social standards occurs largely out of self-interest. The public recognizes transgressions and quickly acts against companies or countries that violate standards. Companies have an interest in seeing that disputes do not escalate and indirectly harm them. They monitor relationships with customers and suppliers closely, and drop risky partners quickly. In this highly competitive and interconnected world, businesses see the strategic economic advantages of being perceived as environmentally and socially responsible, and many become proactive leaders in responding to social and environmental challenges.

Jazz is a world in which NGOs, governments, concerned consumers, and businesses must act as partners—or fail. Together, along with other players, they learn effective ways of incorporating environ-mental and social values into market mechanisms.