Magazine

Into the blue

Gunter Pauli is widely regarded as one of the leading experts on sustainable economic design. His mission is to challenge orthodoxy. The key to his approach is modelling systems that solve problems by harnessing or imitating nature. These generate no waste or emissions, but do generate jobs and social capital – something of a holy grail for readers of this magazine.

In person, Pauli exudes a huge amount of energy, so it’s no surprise to learn he’s founded, chaired or sat on the board of a multitude of companies. One of these, Ecover, which he’s credited with rescuing in the 1990s, also gave him a key insight that guides his philosophy today. This was witnessing at first hand how Ecover, a brand established to promote sustainability, had inadvertently caused the loss of Indonesian rainforest and habitat for orangutans through its sourcing of palm oil. It was a salutary lesson, teaching him that sustainability must recognise the whole system.