Indigo Development
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Integrative Regional Action Planning (IRAP)

Blue Oak Indigo Development is colloborating with the Mantaray Team to develop and apply the practice of integrative regional action planning (IRAP). This process seeks to optimize solutions by addressing multiple regional issues as a whole system.
  • It integrates planning across the continuum from urban to rural to
    wild lands, realms that are
    usually treated in isolation.
  • It links sustainable community planning with high performance infrastructure and building design.
  • Regional carrying capacity and the unique natural capital assets of
    regional ecosystems define the limits and opportunities for community development.
  • Within these limits, sustainable economic development supports formation
    of business clusters that help regional economies to develop in the face of global competition and the escalation of costs for energy, water, and materials.
  • Support for the transition to sustainable agriculture is a key aspect of sustainable economic development. This transition is now inevitable, thanks to the cost of oil and the degradation of soil quality and productivity from petrochemical farming.
Integrative regional action planning responds at the level of the crisis of resource constraints, environmental impacts, and economic challenges that every region now faces. When issues are addressed in an integrative, systemic way, a synergy is likely to develop, so that the problems in one realm are resolved by the solutions of another.   

 California Blue Oak, Quercus douglasii, with spring foliage emerging 
For instance business and job development in renewable bio-energy can use several streams of discarded biomass. Inputs include, sludge from sewage and food processing plants, green garbage from solid waste disposal, crop residues, and manure from concentrated animal farm operations. This business solution cuts disposal of sludge and garbage at landfills and reduces the serious water and air emissions of animal operations. Cleaner operations support regional watershed and airshed conservaton planning. This integrative approach also reduces greenhouse gas emissions and can generate income from carbon credits. Thus the client partnership gains local economic development, reduction of land, water and air pollution, a market-based means of meeting regulatory standards, and reduction of health risks.  (See Indigo's strategy paper prepared for the Province of Ontario.)  
European regions and countries have been working in a more integrative fashion, especially as the institutions of the European Union have been formed. There are many strong precedents for this approach.

Benefits of a holistic response to crisis

Addressing any one major concern, especially politically charged ones like climate change, is difficult. Many different jurisdictions and interest groups are in conflict over the nature of the problem as well as the solutions.

However, each area of crisis contains seeds for resolving problems in other areas. A holistic response, organized regionally, could take on several interlocked problems as a whole system and yield benefits for all stakeholders. For instance:
  • Using resources much more efficiently strengthens the profitability of companies and the competitiveness of local and regional economies. (China's Circular Economy initiative is reaching for multi-factor increases in efficiency of resource use.)
  • Making the transition from petrochemical intensive farming to full sustainable farming cuts operating costs, conserves land and water resources, and reduces generation of greenhouse gases and their impacts. It can also improve quality of life in rural communities.
  • Both resource efficiency and sustainable farming open markets for existing and new firms and create local jobs that cannot be outsourced.
  • Integrative regional planning for urban and rural economies also opens new opportunities for reducing waste through development of firms and jobs in resource recovery and renewable energy.
  • Restoration of major ecosystems renews the natural capital without which no economy can continue functioning.
  • All of these benefits contribute to the preparation for climate change and the reduction of emissions causing it.
An intrinsic synergy emerges when we work with the major negative economic and environmental trends of the 21st century as a whole system. Furthermore, the means of achieving such synergy are at hand:
  • Sustainable Systems Inc. and several other companies have developed innovative strategies for creating sustainable regional investment funds through formation of a public private infrastructure of financial institutions and systems to support the success of enterprises. Such double bottom line funds seek market rate of return for the business and the economic, environmental, and social benefits for the community and region.
  • New methods of managing complex communications, meetings and project processes enable much more effective perception of problems, resolution of conflict and generation of creative solutions.
  • Advanced methods and technologies improve the effectiveness of high performance building design, and projects for renewable energy, resource efficiency, low-input intensive organic farming, resource recovery, ecosystem cleanup and restoration, and many other areas.
  • In public, private, and civil sectors there is an increasing number of actors aware of the depth of the combined economic, environmental, and resource crisis and ready to work in a more integrative way to create solutions.
The Mantaray Team, including Indigo Development, has applied IRAP to a major planning firm's master plan for a new town development in the Philippines and to the stategic options analysis for a major property in the Southeast US. We are now analyzing situations in Michigan, California, Shandong Province (China) and Liberia to determine how integrative regional action planning could move regions toward sustainable development.

Two institutes in the Netherlands have led development and application of tools for more integrative planning:
The International Centre for Integrated Assessment and Sustainable development  (ICIS)
The Dutch Research Institute for Transitions

For example, a study of water management in the Netherlands, finds, ”The claims of housing, industry, infrastructure and agriculture have resulted in increasing pressure on the water system. The continuous subsidence of soil and climate change has put pressure on the land. Hence, the nature and magnitude of water-related problems have changed.  . . . (The Dutch) water management regime has changed its water management style over the past 30 years from a technocratic scientific style towards an integral and participatory style.”

Integrative Regional Action Planning pages

The system of crises    The process of integrative regional action planning  IRAP realms of action     

The Mantaray Team

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