GIFT Publications

The Sustainable State

When it comes to sustainability, the developing world (unlike mature economies) faces a dilemma. Both advanced and developing economies need to become much more sustainable given the challenges of the 21st Century (e.g. peak population, climate change, increasingly scarce resources, and so on). However, the developing world has yet to achieve a basic standard of living for all its people. The development models available to them (based off a Western experience) all rely on the overuse of resources and over-consumption, but these options will no longer be appropriate in a more resource constrained world. When it comes to sustainable development, developing countries need to achieve both sustainability and development. But under current models, developing countries can only achieve either sustainability or development.

It is strong state governance, with its legitimacy, accountability and authority, that is the foundation upon which strong global and local governance is built, and it is the only viable pathway to sustainability for the developing world. What is necessary is a “sustaining state”: one which preserves public and common goods to ensure that all citizens receive the basic “rights of life” through the equal and fair access of resources.

A strong state is the best vehicle for governance if the developing world is to achieve a universal basic standard of living without dooming the planet. This strong state will have an active and consistent government presence in the economy to resolve the system-wide market failure that encourages overconsumption, and will directly act to provide basic needs to a wide population.


In his book Consumptionomics, Chandran Nair advocates that the Western model of consumption-led economic growth cannot be replicated in Asia, that current and future leaders must find alternatives to safeguard our future. He argues that resource constraints will require a realignment of economic policy in order to avoid catastrophic outcomes arising from the relentless promotion of a consumption-led growth model in the world’s most populous regions. He calls for curbs on some forms of consumption and for resources to be re-priced to reflect the true costs to society. Mr. Nair offers a new paradigm for governments, business leaders and academics to consider.


The Other Hundred Series

The Other Hundred is a worldwide initiative by GIFT that provides a better understanding of the people who make up our world and the lives they lead.

Through a series of 100 photo-stories drawn from photographers across the world, each edition of The Other Hundred moves beyond stereotypes to challenge conventional wisdom and introduce readers to the vast majority of people, ideas, places and cultures that are overlooked by most major media.

Learning Places : The GIFT Report

Learning Places: The GIFT Report discusses prosperity, people and progress—free of mainstream trends, conventional wisdom and comforting themes. It goes beyond a mere collection of case studies by drawing upon our boots-on-the-ground knowledge of markets, new business models, untapped customers and environmental constraints.

Volume 1

  1. Community-based sports facilities on underutilised land in Hong Kong
  2. Branded agricultural products from smallholder farmers in Iran
  3. Growth prospects for small and medium-sized enterprises in Myanmar
  4. Tech-enabled emergency response services in India’s most literate state, Kerala
  5. Commercial solutions to driving increased hygiene and public health in Vietnam
Volume 2

  1. Revitalising rural villages in ultra-urban Hong Kong
  2. Spreading access to incremental housing finance for rural families in Tamil Nadu
  3. Selling affordable health products to migrant factory workers in Vietnam
  4. Developing community sports facilities in Kuala Lumpur
  5. Building better links between Chinese smallholder farmers and nearby communities
  6. Growing an entirely new coconut industry in Cambodia


    Karim joined GIFT in 2010 after participating in the Global Leaders Programme and has since designed and facilitated dozens of experiential programmes for high potential executives and government officials. In his current role Karim leads the ASEAN office and is responsible for GIFT’s regional activities and programmes across Southeast Asia. Prior to GIFT Karim spent a decade in Mainland China where he was a partner in a successful nationwide food and beverage business. Karim’s articles on insights gathered through GIFT programmes have appeared in a range of publications. He has an MBA from the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business in Beijing and is a proficient Mandarin speaker.


    In addition to leading GIFT’s dynamic team and business, since 2008, Eric has facilitated more than 50 experiential leadership programmes in fifteen countries. He is well versed in introducing new ideas on governance, business and sustainability and coaching participants to think critically about their role as leaders. Before joining GIFT, Eric spent several years managing multi-stakeholder partnerships between global brands and civil society groups in the United States and China. He writes and speaks regularly on topics related to leadership development and the changing role of business in society. Eric is an alumnus of Standford University and holds a Masters from Hong Kong University.


    For more than three decades, Chandran has advised governments and MNCs on strategic management, leadership issues and sustainability, and is often invited to facilitate for top corporate education providers including Duke CE, INSEAD and NUS. He was previously Chairman of ERM in Asia Pacific, helping establish it as the world’s leading environmental consultancy. Chandran is on the Executive Committee of the Club of Rome and is a member of WEF’s Global Agenda Council on Governance for Sustainability and Experts Forum, where his thought leadership is sought for its fresh insights and intellectual honesty. He is the author of the best-seller – Consumptionomics: Asia’s Role in Reshaping Capitalism and Saving the Planet, and The Sustainable State: The Future of Government, Economy and Society.