Topic: Ecological Civilization

An ecological civilization is an umbrella term for the vision of a transformed civilization based on the core principles that sustain living systems in natural ecologies. An ecological civilization would be built on life-affirming values rather than wealth accumulation (see ecocidal civilizationpetronormativity, ecocide) and structured to create the conditions for all humans to flourish as part of a thriving, living Earth (see sustainability, Just Transition). A fundamental precept would be the recognition of fractal flourishing: that the well-being of each person is fractally related to the health of the larger world. Some of the core principles of an ecological civilization would include fairness, justice, individual dignity, diversity, integration, balance, and symbiosis between humans and nonhuman nature. Human activity would be organized not merely to avoid harm to the living Earth but to actively regenerate and sustain its health (see Rights of Nature). In practice, an ecological civilization would likely entail 1) strict restrictions on the power of transnational corporations (see triple bottom line for corporations, regenerative economy), 2) a renewal of the commons, 3) a universal basic income (see social justiceclimate justice), 4) a shift from industrial monocrop agriculture to regenerative agriculture (see agroecology), and 5) a devolution of power to local and regional levels where their effects are felt most (see subsidiarity).

Many of the underlying principles and values for an ecological civilization may be found in the traditions of Indigenous communities throughout the world. In China, the concept of “ecological civilization” has been used as a platform by the Chinese Communist Party, but so far has not fully materialized in major policy priorities. In modern Western society, the idea of an ecological civilization has been developed among a select group of visionary thinkers since the 1970s and is gaining increased traction. The Institute for Ecological Civilization, based in California, works to disseminate these ideas.

©2021 ClimateLit (Jeremy Lent)

Related terms: sustainabilityregenerative agriculture, agroecology, climate justicethe commonsRights of Natureregenerative economy, transnational corporations, universal basic income, just transition


What Does an Ecological Civilization Look Like? Jeremy Lent, YES! Magazine, February 2021.

For a vision and principles of a Just Transition from extractive to regenerative economies, check the Climate Justice Alliance website.

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by Juana Martinez-Neal

“The forest needs help! / We all must answer.”

One Earth, cover

by Megan Herbert, Michael E. Mann

“I’m just a kid. What can I do? / Someone must help us. It’s now up to you.”

by Penelope Arlon, Susan Hayes

“This is a book that turns itself into dozens of eco-projects to inspire you to think more about the planet we all call home.”

The Absolute Book

by Elizabeth Knox

“He’s going to do it, she thought. God help us all. He really does mean to save the world”

by April Pulley Sayre

“Thank you for beginnings, / for endings, / for lifetimes. Thank you for being / our home”

Tales from the Inner City

by Shaun Tan

“It’s hard to convey how natural it all seemed, and how even the first conversations began without us really noticing.”

by Carlos López Estrada, Don Hall

“Now to restore peace, I must find the last dragon. My name is Raya.”

by Mai K. Nguyen

“We gotta be careful not to hurt the things around us, because nothing’s really gone forever… everything leaves a little mark”

Greta and the Giants: Inspired by Greta Thunberg’s Stand the Save the World, Climate Lit

by Zoë Tucker

“And no one told them to stop because everyone was scared of them”

Cover of Good Morning, Farm Friends!

by Annie Bach

“The farm is full of sleepyheads. Let’s help our friends get out of bed.”