Gunter pauli

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The Blue Economy

10 Years

100 Innovations

100 Million Jobs
Gunter Pauli

A Report to the Club of Rome

Paradigm Publications
Taos, New Mexico ~ 2010

The Blue Economy

10 Years

100 Innovations

100 Million Jobs


Report to the Club of Rome
ISBN 978-0912111-90-2
Copyright © 2010 Paradigm Publications
All rights reserved. Under penalty of law, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
Published by

Paradigm Publications, Taos, New Mexico USA
Distributed by Redwing Book Company

Taos, New Mexico USA
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Pauli, Gunter A.

The blue economy : 10 years, 100 innovations, 100 million jobs / Gunter


p. cm.

ISBN 978-0-912111-90-2 (pbk. : alk. paper)

1. Natural resources. 2. Sustainable development. I. Title.

HC85.P38 2010



Cover and interior design: Lesley Cox, FEEL Design Associates,

Praise for The Blue Economy
The Blue Economy describes innovations that are certain to change our habits of production and consumption. It points us in a strategic direction for sustainable development. Dr. Pauli’s new economic model gives aspiring entrepreneurs and political leaders the means to contemplate and achieve a sustainable future. They will be able to take advantage of manifold opportunities and make policy decisions that serve both economy and community.

Noemí Sanín Posada, Colombia Ambassador to Venezuela (1990-1991, Spain (2003-2007), UK (1994-1996, 2007-2009),
Colombia Minister of Communications
(1983-1986), Colombia Minister of Foreign Affairs (1991-1995)

Government of Colombia Peace Negotiator
The Blue Economy is exactly the kind of tool we need to help us repair our broken economy and create a more sustainable model. The new ideas and innovative thinking compiled here give us exciting new options about how to transform our economy so that it can generate new jobs and sustain healthy, happy communities far into the future.

Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, CEO, Green For All
Over the past 30 years as I have built up the computer industry around ACER, Dr. Pauli has introduced me to many creative ideas, especially through his Zero Emissions Research and Initiatives (ZERI) organization. He has devoted himself for decades to theoretical development as well as practical application of zero emission concepts. The ideas he puts forth in The Blue Economy represent a sustainable and competitive business framework based on innovations that offer investors and society financial, social, and environmental benefits. Such opportunities to achieve sustainability, parity, and profitability are not only inviting but tremendously compelling.

Stan Shih, Founder, ACER Computers

Chairman, IDSoft Capital Venture Fund
Gunter Pauli masterfully elucidates examples from nature that can help us solve our sustainability problems. There are refreshing and competitive options to artificial chemical and technological fixes and their unintended toxic consequences.

Yvon Chouinard, Owner, Patagonia, Inc.
Nature holds all our solutions. Gunter Pauli is a visionary entrepreneur who is able to help us create a Blue Economy based on respecting the Earth’s ecosystems and humankind. His book is destined to be the bible of this new economy, meant for all of us who are working to build a better world.

Christian Courtin-Clarins, Chairman, Clarins (France)
Our current economic crisis is also a crisis of ethics and values which has led to the enrichment of a few and the disempowerment of many. The Blue Economy advocates for a new economy, one led by innovation and creativity to cultivate the next generation of social entrepreneurship. We are in need of such an economy and no one is better placed than Gunter Pauli to offer this to the world.

Wendy Luhabe, Chancellor, University of Johannesburg
Chair, Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa

Fifteen years ago Gunter Pauli came to my Tokyo office where I was serving as Rector of the United Nations University. He explained his concept of “Zero Emissions” and I immediately hired him as my Special Advisor. In a very short time, the Zero Emissions concept was thoroughly disseminated in Japan and other countries. Private Japanese companies quickly began to invest in technologies and facilities to implement, in practical terms, that original concept.

Gunter’s new work, The Blue Economy, presents excellent innovative ideas with practical applications that will help entrepreneurs and consumers to significantly impact the economies of the world, while earning money, generating jobs, and protecting the environment. In envisioning the future, Gunter continues to be an optimist. I am one too. As you read The Blue Economy, you will be introduced to these ideas and their concrete applications. Don’t miss it and recommend it to your friends.

Professor Heitor Gurgulino de Souza,
Rector, UN University, Tokyo, Japan (1987-1997)
Secretary General, IAUP (International Association of University Presidents).
Brasilia, DF Brazil

Ultimately, our civilization will survive if we are able to emulate nature. The Blue Economy illumines the way.

Lester R. Brown, President, Earth Policy Institute
Author, Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization

Though I know too little of ecology, the rich ideas and inspirations set forth in The Blue Economy are worthy of our greatest attention.

Elie Wiesel, 1986 Nobel Peace Laureate
The Blue Economy shows us that by securing materials and aligning production schemes as nature does, many problems of environmental degradation and pollution would disappear. However, economic policy and core business models largely ignore integrated solutions. Future economic models would do well to take into account the strategic advantage of a portfolio of innovations based on nature and physics. That will be a tall order, but Gunter Pauli´s book, with its rich presentation of how nature and economy can and must collaborate, convincingly shows the way.

Anders Wijkman, Member,
Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences
European Parliament (1999-2009)

The Blue Economy is an exceptional vision of what is truly possible in the context of a sustainable economy. Gunter Pauli has worked tirelessly for many years to put substance to the promise of a Blue Economy. His book is the fascinating result of true dedication to unlocking the potential for sustainability that is universally practiced in Nature’s ecosystems. As investments managers we always seek great, unique ideas that can make money while solving the world’s greatest challenges. I would urge anyone who is interested in going beyond shallow notions of sustainable business to read this book and be inspired by the real opportunity we now have to create a truly enduring and sustainable economic system based on Nature’s profound wisdom.

Colin M. le Duc, Partner,
Generation Investment Management LLP (London)

Gunter Pauli is an inspired and visionary entrepreneur. He is the kind of business leader and educator the world needs. His concepts and ideas for creating sustainable business and social enterprises are based on a deep understanding of ecosystems. This book belongs in the library of every university, business school, and entrepreneur who wants to make a difference in the world today.

Hazel Henderson, Author, Ethical Markets: Growing the Green Economy
President, Ethical Markets Media (USA and Brazil)

The Blue Economy describes in a clear and inspiring manner a systems approach that models Nature and provides a way forward. For anyone who wants to profit from the economic opportunities concomitant with 21st century changes, Gunter Pauli explains how to restructure economies and reshape societies.

Harvey Stone, President, Open Circle Innovations

Gunter Pauli has formulated an entrepreneurial business model that can respond to basic needs, build social capital, and achieve sustainability. His current economic development work with READ in Bhutan is focused on introducing a portfolio of the innovations described in this book as tools to improve the National Happiness Index and foster environmental and social entrepreneurship. Given the mission of the Social Venture Network, his message in The Blue Economy is certain to resonate with a growing community of business and social leaders.

Omer L. Rains, Chairman, Rural Education & Development (READ) Global
Director, Marshall Plan Venture Capital Fund
Member, Social Venture Network (SVN)

Gunter Pauli has carefully gathered many concepts that can achieve harmony with nature, wealth for entrepreneurs, and opportunities for food and livelihood security for all. The Blue Economy is important reading for all entrepreneurs who embrace environmental awareness and celebrate human evolution.

Paul Mahal, Co-founder, CoroCare

Hawai’i is moving to revitalize the Ãina (the land and the ocean) using the principles of prosperity from the ahupua’a model. These principles originate from the indigenous culture, aligning with the ancient systems of the Earth and the values and spirit of Aloha and Pono. The innovations described in The Blue Economy honor this spirit. Aloha ke Akua, e mÃlama kakou. 

Mark McGuffie, Managing Director,
Enterprise Honolulu

Japan was among the first to support Gunter Pauli’s early work with zero emissions. I am certain that the innovative approaches he describes in The Blue Economy will give the entire world a powerful engine for a new kind of economy.

Professor Kiyoshi Kurokawa, M.D.

Special Science Advisor to the Prime Minister of Japan (2006-2008)

President, Science Council of Japan (2003-2006)

The Blue Economy fosters our transition from a product-based economy to a system-based economy. Such a cultural leap requires all of us to see – and move beyond – the connections that have gone into an oblivious core business strategy subject to market tyranny.

Dr. Catia Bastioli, President, Novamont SpA (Italia)

European Innovator of the Year (2007)

As a species we have evolved in interdependence, formulating the tools for brilliant co-existence. The novel ideas and breathtaking concepts presented in The Blue Economy resonate with our deepest knowing. We are led to recognize that Nature devises systems perfectly suited to continuance. The model of cascading energy and nutrients from one kingdom of nature to the next offers us a necessary paradigm that allows us to envision our place in nature’s congruence.

Amy McConnell Franklin, Ph.D, M.Ed., M.P.H.

Emotional Intelligence Education Consultant and Lecturer;
Choose to Change

In The Blue Economy Gunter Pauli exposes readers to a brilliant compendium of innovations that hold the potential to intertwine profitability with sustainability. He shows us how business, science, civil society, and community can partner and profit in meeting the needs of all. This work will energize entrepreneurs to meet the challenge set by former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan: “Let us choose to unite the power of the markets with the authority of universal ideals. Let us choose to reconcile the creative forces of private entrepreneurship with the needs of the disadvantaged and the requirements of future generations.”

Frederick C. Dubee 

Professor, World Peace Academy, University of Basel

Senior Advisor, United Nations Global Compact, China Network

Executive Director, International Global Management Education Institute
The Blue Economy holds a special place on my desk – front and center. In my 30 years of working for a sustainable future, it is rare to come across a book with such a high level of both intellectual rigor AND joyful wonder. I consider both essential. Gunter Pauli’s insights and extraordinary breadth of solution-oriented scenarios can make your head spin and your heart beat fast. As a student of systems thinking and design, the 100 innovations described fill me with a sense of hope and thrill me with the possibilities for a future I’ll be happy to leave to upcoming generations.

Kris Holstrom, Regional Sustainability Coordinator, The New Community Coalition

Colorado organic farmer
The Blue Economy reveals, through the eyes of an economist, a panoply of 
technological innovations based in nature. It shows us that environmental sustainability and company profitability are far from mutually exclusive.

Andrew Parker, PhD, Research Leader, London Natural History Museum & Green Templeton College, Oxford University; Blue Economy Innovator
From the GREEN (initiative)
Jump into THE BLUE (economy)

Your RED (balance sheet) becomes BLACK (wealth)!

With the true dynamic of GAIA (naturally . . .)

Tomoyo Nonaka, Chairwoman, Gaia Initiatve

CEO, Sanyo Electric Group (Japan) (2005-2008)

The Blue Economy i

10 Years i

100 Innovations i

100 Million Jobs i

The Blue Economy iii

10 Years iii

100 Innovations iii

100 Million Jobs iii

Contents xi

Foreword xvii

Dedication xxi

Preface xxv

Chapter one 1


Timeless Resources for the Challenges of Our Times 1

Physics and Practicality 1

Wasting Away 3

How to Welcome Waste 6

Achieving Abundance 9

chapter two 12

Emulating Ecosystems for a Blue Economy 12

Plenitude From paucity 14

Food Security in Africa 18

An Island Afloat a Dream 20

Progressive Pueblo Solutions 23

Bagasse, a Sweet Solution 25

Urban Whole Systems 26

chapter three 28

Nature’s Resource Efficiency 28

Structure and Flow 29

Termites, the Masters of Flow 30

A Stripe of a Different Color 33

A Desert of Plenty 34

Collecting Water by Attraction and Repulsion 35

Sophisticated Sticking 36

Vortexes as Viable Bactericides 37

Natural Ways to Avoid Fire and Flame 40

Unlocking Solutions to the Challenges of Sustainability 42

chapter four 46


Leading the Way for Market Leaders 46

Oak from Seed 47

New Possibilities, New Perspectives 48

Getting Out of the Box 51

Management Principle 1:
Core Business Defined by Core Competence 52

Management Principle 2: Supply Chain Management 55

Management Principle 3: Outsourcing 57

Management Principle 4: Cash Flow as King 58

Management Principle 5: Crowding Out 59

The Downside of the Upside 61

So Many Solutions, So Little Time 61

Greenwashing 62

From 20 Thousand to 100 Million 64

chapter five 66

Nature’s MBA (Mastery of Brilliant Adaptations) 66

Empowering Entrepreneurs 69

Three Levels of Sustainability 73

One Innovation, Multiple Revenues 74

Cascading Resources in a Community 76

Real Opportunities, Real Solutions 77

Chapter six 80

Cascading Models, Multiple Cash Flows 80

The Buzz about Coffee 84

Pulp to Livelihood 89

From Waste to Superfood 93

Chapter Seven 98

Spinning a Silken Tale 98

Topsoil on the Cutting Edge 99

Silk for Carbon Capture 102

The Geometry of Silk 103

A Close Shave 106

Smooth as Silk 108

Biocompatible Medical Uses 109

Chapter eight 112

From the Mighty
to the
Miniscule 112

Only a Heartbeat Away 113

Energy from Whales 114

Healthy, Battery-Free Electrical Current 117

Health Data Online 119

A Cooler Way to Cool 122

(Did You Hear?) The Furor over Furanones 124

Miraculous Maggots 129

Painless Injections 134

Gasless Propulsion 136

Bundling Innovations 138

Biodiversity and Health 139

Chapter nine 142

A Rainbow of Possibilities
Remaking Coloration and Cosmetics 142

Light Perception 144

Ultraviolet: Light Humans Do Not See 145

The Evolution of Color and Perception 147

Color Pigmentation as Commodity 149

Waste for One, Resource for Another 152

The Biorefinery of the Future 155

chapter ten 158

Envisioning New
Energy Options 158

Rethinking Demand-Side Energy Policies 161

Unlocking New Energy Options 164

Electricity from pH 166

Electricity from Temperature Differential 166

Electricity from Gravity and Pressure 168

Energy from Movement (Kinetic Energy) 171

CO2 as a Source of Energy 172

chapter eleven 180

True Gold:
Mines as Platforms of Healing 180

How to Restore Errors of the Past 181

Binding the Wound to Heal 184

A Method for Methane Capture 185

Converting water from cost to revenue 187

Electrifying Savings 189

Power from Airflows 190

Energy Generation from Temperature and Pressure 190

Environmental remediation 191

Chelating Complex Ores 193

Mines as Biorefineries 195

Financial Engineering 197

chapter twelve 198

Buildings Designed by Flows 198

Creating an Ecosystem of the Domicile 199

The Seven Flows of Building Design and Living Space 201

The Thoroughly Modern Nursery 204

The Flow of Air and Light 206

Insect Insights Relative to Humidity 208

A Living Filter 209

Fungi in the Basement 210

The Challenge of Triple Glazing 212

The Flow of Water 212

The Heat Island Effect 218

The Flow of Sound 219

The Flow of Energy 220

The Flows of People and Matter 223

Schools as Sustainability Classrooms 224

Housing for All 225

All Flows Considered 229

50 Technologies Inspired by Nature Integrated into Building Design 231

chapter thirteen 232


a Blue Economy 232

Opting Out of a Dead End 233

A Curiously Winding Path 234

Epilogue: Realizing a Dream 242

Success in California 245

Coffee, Invasive Species, and Local Biodiversity 247

Overcoming an Unjust Boycott 248

From ZERI to 100 250

A Table of 100 Innovations Inspired by Nature 254

Appendix 2 263

100 Innovations Inspiring Competitive Business Models 263

Cascading Materials, Nutrients,

and Energy like Ecosystems 264

Substituting something with nothing 274

Platform Technologies Accelerating Sustainability 288

Extraordinary food for thought 297

Bibliography and References 301

Books and Journals 301

Other Works by Gunter Pauli 304

ADDITIONAL Information 306


The ideas you are about to encounter are among the most tantalizing prospects for realizing a low carbon, resource-efficient, and competitive economy in the 21st century. It is remarkable that some of the greatest opportunities for jobs will come from replicating the waste free efficiency of ecosystems. The natural world, in all its splendor and diversity, has already solved many of the sustainability challenges humanity faces in ingenious, unexpected, and even counterintuitive ways. If humans could only unravel the fascinating chemistry, processes, structures, and designs that organisms – from bacteria and mollusks to reptiles and mammals – have evolved and tested over millennia, perhaps then we would have new and transformational solutions to the many challenges faced by a planet of six billion people, rising to over nine billion by 2050.

Gunter Pauli’s book, The Blue Economy, opens the door to this fresh, forward-looking field. The pioneering advances it profiles will quickly persuade business and government leaders to explore and develop the cutting-edge sciences at the foundation of these new developments. It highlights the innovative work of many, including Emile Ishida (Japan), Wilhelm Barthlott (Germany), Andrew Parker (UK), Joanna Aizenberg (Russia/USA), Jorge Alberto Vieira Costa (Brazil), and other front-line scientists who refuse to accept either the conventional wisdom or the status quo. In featuring their work, The Blue Economy demonstrates that we can find ways of utilizing physics, chemistry, and biology with renewable materials and sustainable practices just as ecosystems do. This is no longer the realm of science-fiction; it is actually happening here and now. With appropriate policies to support research and development, with promotional strategies delivered through market mechanisms, these materials and methods offer abundant opportunities for accelerating adaptation to pressing global issues.
In turn, widespread adoption of the framework proposed in The Blue Economy can provide a solid rationale for implementing the agenda of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the missions of organizations like UNEP and IUCN. Currently, species are being lost at an unprecedented rate. Many scientists believe that the world is now undergoing the sixth wave of extinctions, primarily caused by economic models and human behavior that undervalue the contributions of species, habitats, and ecosystems to our lives and the planet’s life support systems.
These species within ecosystems underpin our mega-trillion dollar economy by providing essential services at the local, regional, and global level. Many ecosystem species and processes hold clues for potentially significant achievements in the production of medicine, food crops, biofuels, and low-energy materials. These could prove to be essential for societal measures to mitigate or adapt to climate change. Such achievements will certainly be needed to catalyze new sustainable businesses and industries to provide decent, sustainable jobs. For the 100 innovations it describes,
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