The Big Sur Declaration

At a conference in 1994, members of the international Ecological Design Society issued the following declaration.

Ecological design re-integrates the needs of human society within the dynamic balance of nature. It calls for an ecological revolution as fundamental as the industrial revolution.

Conventional forms of agriculture, architecture, engineering, and technology have not proven themselves sufficient to maintain either human health or the integrity of ecosystems.

We, the international Ecological Design Society, call for a regenerative ecological design science and craft which honors the following principles:

  • Trace the ecological footprint: Set up the books for a full ecological accounting. Evaluate designs by their environmental impacts over their complete life-cycle.
  • Live off solar income: Increase the renewability of energy production and the efficiency of energy use until we can provide for our needs out of annual solar income.
  • Maintain biodiversity and the locally adapted cultures and economies that support it: We take the preservation of species, representative ecosystems, and ecologically viable landscapes as a self-evident necessity. This can only be accomplished with a diversity of cultures and economies predicated on the uniqueness of place.
  • Waste equals food: Create restorative materials cycles in which all waste from one process becomes food for the next.
  • Work with whole systems: Design in keeping with the greatest possible degree of internal integrity and coherence.
  • Design must follow, not oppose, the flows of life: Replace energy and materials with the self-designing capabilities of ecosystems. Allow living systems to unfold in a full expression of their creative capacities. Ecological design occurs in planetary time.


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Cuyahoga Bioregion
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Copyright 2002-2003



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