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Sustainability as a Megatrend

Many more strategies have become informed by sustainability analysis, with four broad approaches.

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Readers of a certain age may remember John Naisbitt’s 1982 book, Megatrends, which described the major social, economic, political, and technological developments that Naisbitt argued would shape the future. It was a popular book that was both assigned reading in college courses and available in supermarket checkout lines. The idea has stuck with me over the years. Megatrends are trends that are likely to have broad, deep, and long-lasting impacts on our lives and institutions, and those of future generations.

The concept comes to mind when I think about sustainability and its impact. Sustainability emphasizes the need to think in more holistic and long-term ways to make decisions that meet our needs in the present without diminishing the ability of future generations to make decisions that meet their needs. It emphasizes the interconnection between financial, natural, and human capital. Says Yale professor Daniel C. Esty, the faculty director of the Yale Sustainability Leadership Forum:

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