Systems Analyst

Nicole Foss is a systems analyst. She has previously been an environmental consultant, a research fellow at Oxford, executive coordinator of the Ontario biogas industry, and is now a researcher, writer and international speaker. She lectures on limits to growth, encompassing international finance, energy, environment, psychology, geopolitics and permaculture.

Back to Themes and Speakers  page.

See the Festival Program for more information.


We are approaching limits to growth in many ways simultaneously, and these limits will interact to constrain future options. Resources are increasingly limited, we cannot afford to waste what remains. It is therefore important to assess the viability of different proposed solutions in light of this. If we eliminate unworkable proposals, we can focus more effectively on real solutions. To be viable, a choice must not be capital intensive or energy intensive. It must not depend on large-scale, top-down decision-making, existing societal complexity or social cohesion. This presentation will explore each of these constraints. We will also delve into the range of paths forward that do not violate one or more of the constraints. 

Solutions will need to be relatively small-scale and locally-based, to operate within the trust horizon. They will need to rely on collective human initiative and effort at the community scale. Building social capital will be essential, with many possibilities for community groups and local government to collaborate. Businesses also have a critical role in maintaining access to essentials and will need local supply chains and a local distribution network. 
In a relocalised community, the economy needs to be locally grounded, including its monetary system. Initiatives such as time banks, savings pools, and local currencies can make a major difference in maintaining liquidity through an economic depression. The goal is to create a decentralised and resilient system capable of supplying people with the essentials by facing uncertainty with flexibility. To explore this concept, a permaculture mindset is beneficial. The reality of what can be delivered under a system constrained by non-negotiable limits requires a substantial downward adjustment of expectations. This need not mean deprivation of material wealth, but wealth in human connection. It is what makes people healthy and happy, and that is what we must focus upon.

The 2020 Festival of Landscape Architecture is taking place on Whadjuk Noongar Country. We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of Whadjuk Noongar Country and Country throughout Australia. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.