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The Art of Systems Change: Eight Guiding Principles for a Green and Fair Future

Nothing remains constant except change itself. Harnessing this wisdom is critical to taking advantage of new opportunities as they arise, and to creating a sustainable future for people and nature.

Yet, the alarming rate of global environmental change invites a moment of collective reflection: With all our efforts, why have we not yet reversed the trajectory of global change? There's no easy answer, but it starts by accepting that the world is complex. Enabling lasting change requires embracing this reality and working with greater intent to transform the systems that perpetuate the unsustainable trajectory of our planet.

This book lays out a vision and an actionable plan for seeking sustainable solutions for our planet. In Part 1, we outline the fundamental tenets of systems thinking, the behavior of complex systems, and the implications for our understanding of the world. In Part 2, we outline a set of eight guiding principles for working to achieve long-lasting solutions to tackle our most pressing environmental and societal challenges. Finally, we lay out a map for the road ahead, and for the individual journey into systems practice that each of us is embarking on.

The Art of Systems Change is not designed to be prescriptive. It does not lay out a specific set of tools to guide the design and implementation of interventions. What it does do is seek to provide a collective roadmap for navigating toward a sustainable future, by embracing the complexity of the challenges we face, creating space for diverse ways of knowing, and providing ways of working that reflect the dynamics of the systems we strive to influence. We can no longer ignore that the future of humanity and the planet are at risk. How we go about our work must be in intentional service of the lasting change we seek to make. Welcome to the systems journey.