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No turning back?

These widespread changes unfold at different rates in different regions. By the year 2032, some shifts are already well on the way to a new, more stable level of functional completion, while others are only beginning to take off. Although there have been setbacks, these have not been major or widespread. The reason for this smooth passage lies in the nature of the process which, while somewhat chaotic and unplanned at times has been driven from the grass roots up with strong support at higher levels. The degree of participation between governments and society, and the ongoing evolution of basic beliefs have been instrumental in allowing governments to pursue policies that would not otherwise have been possible. Examples are the establishment of land and marine sanctuaries and major shifts in the constructive use of tax breaks and penalties.

'New technologies play a big role, both as catalysts for, and in response to, many of these changes.'

Furthermore, as businesses, NGOs and governments, working together or apart, achieve notable success, they push for action to encourage others to follow. The evidence of these accrued benefits helps governments in taking action, as they make it very difficult for those who are opposed to them to argue against the feasibility of meeting new targets. And as formal actions are taken, they act as a ratchet, keeping the advances from slipping back.

The interlinked sets of changes that have occurred during the first three decades of the new millennium are clearly part of a broad societal transformation. Although no one would argue that sustainability has been achieved, there is a clear sense that the world is moving in the right direction and there is no turning back.