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.)
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:
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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) http://www.icis.unimaas.nl/
The Dutch Research Institute for Transitions http://www.drift.eur.nl/home/
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.”