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Ecological Governance and POLIS

At POLIS, ecological governance is the ground upon which theory meets practice and where, in turn, practice is informed by, and evolves, theory.
Ecological governance means embedding the environment in all levels of decision-making and action – from the personal to the global. It means thinking about our cities and communities, our forests and watersheds, our economic and political life within a new paradigm that treats the environment not as an add-on or afterthought, but as all-encompassing and all pervasive.
Ecological governance is thus about democracy and community. It is also about the natural world within which our communities exist and interact, and which sustains us. Humans are also physical animals. Today, this connection has been broken, as our daily lives have become increasingly remote from the sources of our sustenance. Global sustainability must be sought at all levels. But ultimately, the end of all our endeavours must be to create new relationships on the ground, in the countless local places where people live and work.
The concept of ecological governance is exciting because it offers alternatives to linear, extractive, and unsustainable systems that continue to level ancient forests, displace Indigenous and local communities, clog and choke our global cities. Instead, ecological governance asks how we might foster circular systems where we reduce our demands on distant (and local) ecological systems.
With the ever-growing scale of human impacts, the rush toward environmental disaster is breathtaking. To avert disaster, old patterns of thought and the institutions in which they are embedded must change. Governance is a term that involves much more that just government. Governance embraces two other pillars of social decision-making: business and what is loosely called “civil society.” Our governance systems themselves exist within natural relationships – ecologies – that are dramatically deteriorating at all levels. Inevitably, if we are to develop sustainability, we must re-imagine, and re-invent, these systems. Is there a choice? Ecological governance is an imperative for the 21st century.

Page last updated: 01/22/2013