Are Sustainability Challenges Different in America?

By Zachary Alexander on

Given the importance that members of the World Economic Forum accorded to sustainability and free markets, you would think that a more sustainable future is right around the corner. However, you can’t visit news sites like the Huffington Post without seeing a story, which talks about the challenges associated with achieving sustainability. And most of these opinion pieces link the challenges in some shape of form to Globalization.

For those tasked with supporting sustainability in America, you and your peers may want to consider the threat posed by neoliberalization (i.e. the process of running American institutions by neoliberalism doctrine) instead of the waning influence of the Globalization process . In fact, you can see the impact of neoliberalism growing in the United States as a reaction to the last election even though it has been discredited in other parts of the world.

You and your peers must win the debate with the “liberty first crowd,” which is led by Senator Rand Paul, before you can deal with the real challenges of scale associated with sustainability in the places that would benefit the most. America is a land of wide-open spaces and self-reliant people, of entrepreneurs willing to take on the world. And its sustainability needs require solutions that will scale accordingly.

In fact, the strength of neoliberalism stems from its simplicity. It is hard to argue with someone like Senator Paul when he says that America was born of a quest for Liberty. Unfortunately, Senator Paul’s brand of Liberty doesn’t include all Americans or even all American communities. For example, he would leave out minority Americans that need the protection provided the Voter’s Rights Act to exercise the most basic right of citizenship and deny the opportunity for a quality education to those born without means.

The good news for those tasked with supporting sustainability is that America’s regional differences provide an opening for building a post-Globalization school of thought. The cookie cutter solutions advocated by the liberty first crowd won’t work for post-Globalization America. There is going to be a need for innovation infrastructure that will allow lesser industrialized communities to compete in highly industrialized markets.

This post-Globalization school of thought will be built on a two-tiered sustainability architecture, which acknowledges that entrepreneurial companies and economic development organizations have different goals. Entrepreneurial companies need to build relationships with their customers and their vendors while economic developers need to identify strategic options, which will protect the economic security of their region.

Zachary Alexander