Gunter Pauli

Trained as an economist, I have been a company manager several times in my career. In particular for the Ecover company in Europe, then as an importer of exceptional beers in Japan, where I live part of the year. For almost four decades, I have been working to provide solutions to the threats that the 21st century has in store for us. More prosaically, I also present myself as an “impediment to go around in circles” to the industrialists and governments who solicit me. I did not come into this world to please, and that is why the wise words of René Char motivate me to go beyond reason:
“He who comes into the world to disturb nothing,
deserves neither looks nor patience.”

René Char

Yet, whenever I am considered unreasonable, it motivates my action. That is why I gratefully welcome you to this site, to discover my vision and share your patience with me.
If I have been able to break new ground, it is primarily because of a few exceptional friends and mentors who encouraged me to go beyond my wildest dreams, to accept huge challenges, to be willing to risk everything.
I am on a mission with passion, inspired by the wisdom of science, shaped by the beauty of nature and the arts. No one has appointed me to this mission but me. The state of the world and the plight of billions of people make it impossible to accept the status quo, or mere improvement. We must give ourselves the freedom to move beyond the present, and even change the rules of the game. To do this, it is not a matter of saying that we are bad, imagining that everyone, without exception, can always do better. We have to start. One step at a time.
We must aim for a path that is not one of personal enrichment or ego satisfaction. We must aim for a sustainable world where we are able to meet the basic needs of all with what we have. A path that allows us to learn more and more and to realize that science alone is temporary, and that we are in pursuit of the discovery of the web of life. With its magnificence and its subtleties.

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Gunter Pauli was born in Antwerp, Belgium in March 1956. In 1979, he earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Loyola University (now the University of Antwerp) in Belgium and received his master’s degree in business administration from INSEAD in 1982 in Fontainebleau, France, on a Rotary International Foundation scholarship. During his studies, he worked at a variety of jobs to “support his family, his education, and to save money, which allowed him to travel extensively during the summer vacations.” In 1978, he was elected national president of the student union AIESEC.

He was founder and chairman of PPA Holding and more than 10 other companies, founder and CEO of the European Service Industries Forum (ESIF), secretary general of the European Business Press Federation (UPEFE), founder and chairman of the “Mozarteum Belgicum” Foundation, chairman and president of Ecover, and advisor to the rector of the United Nations University in Tokyo, Japan.

His entrepreneurial activities span business, culture, science, politics and the environment. Under his leadership, Ecover pioneered a green factory in 1992, featured on CNN Prime Time News. He founded the Zero Emissions Research and Initiatives (ZERI) at the United Nations University in Tokyo, and then established the ZERI Global Network as a foundation, redefining production and consumption into clusters of industries inspired by natural systems.

He is dedicated to designing and implementing a society and industries that meet people’s needs using what is available locally. His visionary approach, supported by dozens of field projects, earned him an invitation to present his cases at the World Expo 2000 in Germany. There he built the largest bamboo pavilion of modern times, featuring 7 groundbreaking initiatives. It became the most popular pavilion with 6.4 million visitors. Unfortunately, the pavilion was destroyed after the Expo. However, the original built in Manizales, Colombia, is still a symbol of the coffee region.

 

His latest initiatives include designing a solution for the plastic soup floating in the oceans and creating a protected area with islands to prevent rising sea levels. He is actively involved in ensuring that the largest herd of rhinos (2,400 in Kaziranga National Park, India) is freed from poachers through an intensive economic and community development program in coordination with organic tea plantations.

He has been a guest lecturer and professor at universities on every continent, and a board member of NGOs and private companies in Asia, the United States and Latin America. He has advised governments, entrepreneurs, and business leaders on how to implement breakthrough innovations that enable society to better meet the basic needs of all, starting with water, food, shelter, health, and energy. It works with what is available locally and focuses on creating value.

He is a member of the World Academy of Arts and Sciences (San Francisco, USA), a founding member of the Club of Budapest (Hungary), a member of the Club of Rome, moderated the Nobel Laureates Round Table for Science organized by HM the King of Jordan, and received a PhD from the Italian government in systems design. The University of Pécs, Hungary, awarded him an honorary doctorate.

Gunter has published 20 books (16 written – 4 edited), which have been printed in +30 languages and 365 fables bringing science and emotion to children. Over 17 million copies have been distributed worldwide. One of his fables “The Strongest Tree” is available in over 100 languages. One of his latest books published in April 2015 “The Blue Economy 2.0: 200 projects implemented, $4 billion invested and 3 million jobs created” is the new reality inspired by the vision of his Report to the Club of Rome presented on November 2, 2009.

He is the father of five sons and one daughter (adopted). Fluent in seven languages and having lived on four continents, he is a citizen of the world.

Some of Gunter Pauli’s lectures