Barbara Heinzen believes that the need to restore environmental wealth is the defining challenge of the 21st century. Her first assignment in this area came from the WBCSD, World Business Council for Sustainable Development*, when she was part of a larger team led by Ged Davis in the late 1990s. Roughly fifty business people worked over 12 months to develop scenarios looking at the future of the global environment in the following fifty years.
One of the scenario stories, “Jazz”, postulated that markets would solve the environmental challenges we face. But how would that happen? In answering that question, Barbara Heinzen wrote a paper titled “Can Markets Manage Ecosystems?” that contributed to the Jazz scenario and Barbara Heinzen’s book, Feeling for Stones.
This early paper also identified the need to engage politically with people across boundaries in order to meet new environmental goals. Following the WBCSD work, Green Cross International hired Barbara Heinzen to facilitate discussions on water from the Jordan River Valley in the Middle East and on water from the Ogavango River in Southern Africa. In both cases, legacies of war and environmental stress complicated the ability to agree on the future management of water resources.
Barbara Heinzen believes that environmental challenges are already forcing us to invent new social and economic systems, comparable to the invention of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th Century. This requires not just a technological invention, but also a effective process for achieving political agreement.
*WBCSD Futures work:
1997: WBCSD Global Scenarios 2000-2050
2010: Vision 2050 Among other measures, this reports calls for incorporating the cost of externalities (carbon, ecosystem services and water) into the structure of the market place.