There is no difference between Premium and Economy Class when the ship-train-airplane runs out of nature’s petroleum gas. Rich or poor; in sickness and in health, until death do us part; CV19 reminds us that we are bound to the survival of all species living in the natural world and contributing to healthy ecosystem functioning. We originated from the One Ocean. We live on One Earth. There is no Planet B for any one of us organic life residents on the biosphere’s phylogenetic tree. Thus, as Homo sapiens (smart humanoids) it seems the best course forward to optimize our chances of evolutionary success and ultimate relief from CV19 stress is to follow the sun and to give life to everyone–equitably, sustainably, and naturally intelligently.
Opening Remarks for the launch of the Great Reset @ World Economic Forum:
“We only have one planet and we know that climate change could be the next global disaster with even more dramatic consequences for humankind. We have to decarbonize the economy in the short window remaining and bring our thinking and our behavior once more into harmony with nature.” Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chair at the World Economic Forum
If we merely Stay Calm and Carry On business as usual after this CV 19 Great Rest, we will have missed the greatest opportunity in our lifetimes to be part of the Great Reset. Now, instead of watching the ecology of entire living biomes slowly unravel and living communities- like the coral reefs disappear; we can pivot and rather create conditions that allow natural systems to Rest and to naturally Reset. Any child knows being sick is simply not desirable or fun; but the recovery can be a very healthy one. In many Native cultures the healing is not just a physical re-vitalization of the body; but a re-integration of a person who has become sick- become separate from a healthy body, community, culture– disconnected from his home and nature. The healing ceremony is centered on his re-joining, re-uniting, and re-membering his rightful place in the community, re-covering this role—perhaps also refreshed or created anew. So, perhaps one way to recover well during these tumultuous CV19 times is to find peace in the solitude and imagine also that this pandemic is Mother Nature’s gift of Rest for us to shut down the old programs and systems of society — hacked & corrupted that no longer serve– to pause, to revisit our values, to upgrade and iterate our priorities, and to Reset accordingly.
The CV19 pandemic has given us pause to reflect on the connection between our personal health and planetary health. The pandemic has given us pause to reflect on the connection between our modes of travel and means of manufacturing consumer goods and the quality of our air, water, and soil. Note: In the months ahead, we can expect a flood of geospatial data to visualize these connections on a global scale. (e.g. ESA, NASA, NOAA, ESRI, Potsdam Climate Institute, Planet, Spot Image; etc.… exciting GIS to come). CV19 has given us pause to reflect on the connection between the providence of our fish and fruits, the quality of life for fishers and farmers, and the fragility of our biosphere’s food web. The pandemic has given us pause to reflect on the impact of laundry detergents on eutrophication of waterways and the persistence of nano-plastics or the ubiquity of micro-plastics in the ocean ecosystem, affecting the health of marine wildlife. CV19 has given us pause to reflect on the marine wildlife that we consume as contaminated with non-biodegradable plastics and immersed now in 5 enormous plastic gyres –artificial ecosystems, persistent in the 3D ocean world. The exponential decrease in biodiversity and increase in ecosystem degradation since 1976 caused largely by human development has given us pause to consider the strength of correlation also with the rise of new viruses—12,800 novel viruses, recorded since 1976.
The good news is that among ourselves we can Zoom…we can share our reflections during this pause— this Great Rest and benefit from our collective life experience to now begin the Global Reset. As well, the collective intelligence resident in the 3.8 billion years of naturally selected design strategies is there at our disposal in nature. Important now is to deeply listen and to truly learn from nature. Here I believe it’s essential to turn to the elders within Indigenous communities and to really lean into their stories and life principles. Here I believe it’s essential to turn to the ecologists and naturalists and earth system’s scientists, who have made it their life’s pursuit to understand living ecosystems from the inside out and from direct experience in nature. Here I believe it’s essential to begin a journey of discovery in biomimicry—to learn the manifesto and operating principles of healthy ecosystems—including the principles of reciprocity, mutualism, circularity, and symbiosis (variations on the same theme). And here the good news is that nature’s library of adaptive design strategies to most every environmental challenge (including CV19) is open and free for everyone, everywhere — to access, to explore, and to learn more about who we are, how we best thrive living on earth, and where we naturally fit into the circle of life. Imagine. We are living in the Age of the Anthropocene. And, we did after all have the audacity to name ourselves, Homo sapiens (smart humanoids). Perhaps now is the time when our natural intelligence really kicks in and we express ourselves as our best selves in connection to one another, acting as if we cared as much about one another as we care about ourselves. Clearly CV19 has shown us too, that when we have the collective will, we can mobilize global communities and capital to protect what we love and value. It seems so trite, but the ethic is exactly right…
The secret to protecting and to conserving the body of the biosphere is to love her and to respect her– Mother Nature (Gaia) as ourselves. Indeed, this is our critical planetary Lion King stewardship role — to protect the integrity of the whole and to connect life’s circle dance in advance of any catastrophic mischance where we’ve extracted too much and restored too little… Time to wake up from our self-centered, human-centric trance and re-finance our future in a new bio-economy honeybee waggle dance.
The truth is that like mycorrihizae who can literally feed a forest and a colony of ants who can literally move mountains (Tree’s Truth), we humans are uber-powerful when we aggregate our actions and act in connected solidarity with one another, investing in our common future. Imagine the collective power and potential of the relief funds now being framed, leveraged, and blended with other forms of money capital and coordinated across country wealth funds and central banks.
The EU announced ahead of CV19 in December 2019 its historic Green Deal, aiming to be the first carbon neutral continent. Then, the EU doubled-down on its sustainability values in the heat of CV19 and ultimately decided to back bio-friendly business by allocating 25% of the $826 billion USD for CV19 recovery toward green urban infrastructure and sustainable agriculture. Then in March 2020 the EU proposed the European Climate Law and Pact with a Circular Economy Action plan. Come the end of May 2020, Ursula von der Leyen announced the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030.
Thus, with lightning speed and by a union of countries in culturally diverse Europe –visionary, unified leadership created a significant stream of capital to build back better –imagining what a bio-based economy could actually look like. That’s the power of vision, leadership, and collective intelligence in action. Mirare (admire, look at with awe) what our eu-social (EO Wilson–uber social, like ants and bees) species can do! We can rebuild the anthill and hive if and when we want to. Thank you. Thank you, Ursula von der Leyen, whom I remember in Davos 2020 stating quite clearly; “ Make no mistake about it. I am a mother and we will get this Green Deal done.” (Davos 2020) Thank you, Prince Charles, for bringing Harmony to the world and imagining the natural conditions of a bio-economy many years ago. (Great Reset) Thank you, Johan Rockstrom for giving global context to human development within planetary boundaries; and Nick Stern for gifting the economics of risk and reward from your climate reports and new climate economy framework. Thank you, Christiana Figueres, Laurence Tubiana, Mary Robinson, and many others who ensured that the Paris Climate Agreement was an inclusive, immersive process that followed the natural principles of life evolving from the inside-out; and from the local to the global. Thank you, David Nabarro, Jeff Sachs, and so many others I know deserve note operating under the same Laudato Si principles of true humanity– inclusivity, respect, celebration of diversity, equity, solidarity in framing the Sustainable Development Goals…universal values we continue to lean on and into as we move through a fragile, just transition, perhaps sometimes not as elegantly as we would like to advance. Thank you, President Ivan Duque for having BiodiverCity vision, Gavin Newsom for your Positive Platform, Marc Benioff for being in service to keep companies selling and dreaming forward to build their companies better in a digital world, Paul Polman for Imagining, Klaus Schwab, Adrian Monk, and team for leading the Great Reset. Thank you, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, President Macron, Chancellor Angela Merkel for modeling great leadership in crisis.
No matter our current trauma or conflicted socio-economic situation; we have good reason to keep the faith and to give the best of humanity a chance.
The multiple passionate appearances by IMF Chief, Kristalina Georgieva, on delivering emergency relief for the poorest countries, relieving debt, and increasing financial support now up to $11 trillion USD, globally (June 27, 2020) , rallying G20 countries to deliver bilateral support, and now encouraging private capital to blend in …. gives me hope. The new assignment (June 2020) of former Costa Rican Environmental and Energy Minister, Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, to the CEO/Chair of the Global Environment Facility (GEF)— the largest multilateral trust fund supporting environmental action in developing countries and the main financing mechanism for multiple United Nations environmental conventions. Carlos represents the epitome of effective leadership, authentic bio-economy values and priorities, and proven track record with building both the economy and protecting nature in perfect step. This combination is potent as now Carlos can amplify these same bio-based business models and proven policy practices in Costa Rica for conservation, globally.
“This is a rare moment of unity and celebration (c.f. Carlos Rodriguez’s assignment to GEF) in the environmental community during an abysmal year.” M. Sanjayan
Mission critical now is that the massive relief funds stimulated by the IMF and the other development banks with bilateral support from G20 countries be directed toward truly sustainable economic and environmental solutions. Mission critical now is that government funds previously allocated to conservation and regeneration of nature in this super decade for nature be enhanced and included top-of-mind in these new government relief funds with a long-term investment horizon. Mission critical now is that we invest this extraordinary pool of liquid capital (and debt relief) into a new bio-based economy (Prince Charles, Great Reset) where all stakeholders in our global ecosystem benefit with green jobs (Professor Klaus Schwab) and urban environments grow new native natural landscapes (the BiodiverCity). M. Sanjayan CEO of CI, points to recent studies that suggest the job creation rate for conservation and reforestation are 40 jobs/ $1 million USD spent, a much higher job creation rate than other extractive and environmentally destructive jobs, like mining. ( CI 2020) This is only one example of how we can build back better. There are many more, and nature can show is the way to cooperate.
How does life know best that to cooperate is essential to life? How does live naturally know that to act according to a Golden Mean sustains the collective? Why is it that most every other species besides (not all) humans knows to take only what you need and to give back relative to what you take? How is it that life seems to innately know that to disturb more than 50% of wild lands; the entire living biome begins to unravel? (EO Wilson, Half Earth Project) How is it that life recognizes that if we continuously disturb an ecosystem and don’t allow the system time to regenerate –to pass through natural stages of succession toward a new climax state; that the biome suffers? How is it that most species perceive that as tropical forests produce 50% of its own rainfall; if one species (humans) continue harvesting standing trees according to current deforestation regimes operating for quarterly profits at a rate of 1 soccer field per 6 seconds; then these forests will dry up and the biodiversity resident mostly in their canopies will disappear? (Andrew Steer, President, WRI and Tom Lovejoy, Tropical Forest Expert and National Geographic Explorer in Residence). How is it that other species seem to know when and where to eat leave-roots-shoots-seeds-fruits at exactly the right ripe time and for the right food, energy, and medicine purpose that optimizes both the health of themselves (the individual), but seldom at the expense (and rather the benefit) of the whole?
Let’s be our best Homo sapiens (wise humans) who know:
Let’s take care of the water and oceans as the source of life.
Let’s take care of the land, which is the cradle of our food.
Let’s take care of the air, which gives us breath for life.
Maria Juliana Ruiz Sandoval, wife of President Ivan Duque Marquez of Colombia
There’s an inherent wisdom alive and echoing throughout the biosphere that reveals the secret of life—that we are in this game of life, enjoying this finite experience, and journeying on this planet earth– together. And, the way to win life’s game is not to out-smart othersin order to exploit, overrun, or compound one’s own self-interest at the expense of the community-system-game. The way to win life’s game is not to hold or to hoard all the resources, and to destroy one’s opponent in a competition that isolates, aggravates, and produces winner and losers. No. Rather the name to life’s game is to out-love the other– to establish long-standing synergistic relationships. The way to win life’s game is to uncover the unique and complementary talents and resources that each individual character in the ecosystem brings to the cooperative—and engage those talents in the optimal ways that best supports the collective, that’s the operative. We win the game of life when all species co-exist in ways were all mutually persist. So, when we talk about cooperation and reciprocity in nature, we are essentially talking about ourselves—reflecting ourselves, cooperating with and giving back to ourselves. Sharing our collective intelligence and talents, so life can simply do life and nature can simply be nature—that is what leads to the success of each other because he is me. Simply, the health of the whole is dependent on the collective health of each part. There is no other magic or high art. That said let us not then miss the message of C19 during humanity’s rest and reset. Shutting down human activity and transport worldwide and locking us inside, apart from nature is not the sustainable new normal way of life for our species. Rather, we were meant for activity. We are all meant to take part in a healthy economy that transacts with each other and with nature, daily. We belong to nature. We are nature. And, now we can learn from nature how to build back better a bio-economy based on love.
Many speakers during the World Environment Week and Ocean Week referenced the “economic and social fault lines of our world widening as the great tectonic plates that undergird our world- technological, geopolitical, and environmental shift dramatically” (Jeff Sachs, June 8, 2020, China Daily). As someone who lives literally on the San Andreas Fault line that separates the Pacific (West Coast California) and the North American (Midwest) tectonic plates, I can attest to the fact that there is a lot of geologic energy underfoot in America, The Beautiful. And despite the intense socio-economic stress of our times, a new narrative is being written and a new normal sandbox for our human experience will be built despite these charged, socio-economic and political shifting sands. The key to surviving in this new world is to be in service to it and therefore to help shape it– to stay awake to new opportunities, to remain flexible and agile, to be mindful of those present at the top and top of mind for those present at the deciding table of the new world order, reiterating and recreating itself now in real time. The best world leaders rising to the top of global influence recognize the gravity of their responsibility to ensure the health and wellbeing not only of their citizens-communities-customers, but everyone, everywhere. The best world leaders rising to the top of global influence are micro and macro economically (not only financially) savvy, ecologically conscious, thoughtful, service-oriented, inclusive systems thinkers who value diversity, rapidly recognize & reward real potential, fearlessly experiment, welcome innovation, and focus on building resilience for the long term future past CV19.
The benefit of this Great Rest has been that we’ve been able to reflect on all our human activities and discern which ones are not sustainable, not respectful to nature. This Great Rest has given us the opportunity to re-create the way we cooperate with one another and with our fellow plant and animal kin to sustain life within planetary boundaries and to revitalize functioning, healthy ecosystems. What we learn if we listen from Indigenous Peoples is that if we ask politely first, take just what we need, plant back only endemic seed, and never exceed half (50%) of the resources the land and ocean can give; then we can maintain good relations and healthy cooperation with nature. This is enough for the tendrils, and roots, and nodes, and micro-biome loads of fungi and bacteria and other incredibly creative life stuff to keep the circular regeneration wheel in motion and life in balance during continual earth crises and commotion.
As we emerge from our Great Rest begin this Great Reset it is my hope that we subscribe to these naturally intelligent principles that have sustained healthy relationships between humans + humans and humans + nature and biomimic successful strategies of individuals and communities who have lived close to nature and in harmony with nature’s cycles and rhythmus for millennia. This is our time. This is the Age of the Anthropocene (or so we have defined). We can as Homo sapiens (smart humans) tap into our true nature divine… and shine.
Capital: How to Build Back Better with a Bio-Economy Consciousness
The good news is that what we truly love, value, and appreciate (in the personal sense), we can find a way to economically (manage) value, appreciate, and protect (in the public sense). We’ve iterated our economic system before; we can do it again. Thus, it would appear we only have to get the finance (circulation of funds) right. Alas, if only a world economic system including 7.8 billion people, living in 195 nations, also exchanging value with 8.7 million other species in a multitude of different interconnected bioregions was so simple and operated so purely and elegantly… hum, as does nature.
Well then, if it is truly our intention to now build back better in the Great Reset with a nature-based (nature-backed) biological mindset; then perhaps there is a lot we can learn from nature’s principles of synergy, symphony, circularity, reciprocity, and legacy.
Synergy– In healthy, thriving ecosystems every organism is a stakeholder. Mutualism is the name of the earth game. Everyone alive is naturally selected to be here for some special role and responsibility to well manage the ecosystem economy—the whole. Everyone is in necessary relationship with at least few others in their shared ecosystem. Whether a predator or prey or parasite or host; we all feed each other and derive energy and life from each other. We filter pollution from water one calls waste; the other calls wealth. We carve out niches and homes, create work, grow raw materials, provide shade, thin colonies, harvest shells, build habitat, guide water, direct nutrients, plant trees; even inadvertently, seed one another. Everyone in a natural system is considered an essential worker because everyone contributes something of essential value to the individuals in the community and the community as a whole.
“There are no free loaders in a natural system. All plants and animals and organisms in nature are essential workers.” Janine Benyus, Biomimcry
Symphony– Organisms contribute to natural ecosystems freely– without prompting or payment. Plants and animals and fungi act in naturally intelligent ways without deep reflection or conflicted consideration and consternation. They simply do what they do best to eat, shelter, safeguard the next generation, sustain the environment, and rest. And the grace and beauty is that nature does nature in a way that just flows like an orchestrated dance. Everyone in nature aligns with such natural harmony that the diverse constellation of beings making up an ecosystem could be considered a symphonic super-organism operating in perfect pitch, tone, and rhythm.
Circularity– In our closed world systems of water, carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, minerals, proteins, nucleic acids, metals, and other rare earth elements; the same chemistry of life flows through life in circular loops. Thus, most organisms in the biosphere seem to know to go with the flow.
“There is no hoarding (of resources) among organisms in nature. There are no billionaires in nature. And for Indigenous Peoples, hoarders are considered mentally insane. No one in their right mind (who understood the circularity of nature) would purposefully stop the flow of resources because it is clear to cause death.” Lynn Twist
Further, there is no overflow; in the sense that most organisms know how to moderate their lifestyles to ensure the safety and long term sustainability of their home. This mindset of moderation could really benefit us as a society, as well. The new concept of Donut Economics out of Northern Europe is consistent with building a new economy within Planetary Boundaries and is a new topic in the rich and expanding conversation on designing to up-scale, generating zero waste, permaculture, living in flow, and always giving recycled products or parts somewhere new of value to go.
Reciprocity– The Indigenous Peoples can speak volumes about what it means to live and to transact among others according to the principle of reciprocity. (c.f. Nia Tero) And at the end of this article, I have included an adaption of the Honorable Harvest Canon by the Anishinaabe Tribe, which outlines their living principles. Reciprocity lies at the center of this canon, as well, the culture of many other Indigenous Peoples, like tribes in the NW Pacific or Hawaiians and other Pacific islanders who celebrate the Potlatch. Reciprocity means giving first, taking last, and trusting in the future and past.
Legacy-If we really dissect natural systems and the benefits of maintaining the integrity of health ecological communities for the wellbeing of life, including humans; there really is no end or beginning to the supply value chain (web). It is infinite and circular… So, we are wise to biomimic (copy) how life has created healthy, sustainable, infinitely circular, perfectly balanced, reciprocal exchanges over a 3.8 billion year legacy. We are wise to reset our global economy based on nature principles of prosperity (See my next article V)
Natural Capital: It’s Never about Money; It’s Always about Mindset
The good news is that creating a new bio-economy is not about money or creating a new nature-based currency; it’s about creating a mindset change and integrating different principles and values into a new financial (flow) system of value and giving proper principle to life, which we now all agree is principal. Money is a human invention. It’s merely a medium of exchange that our ancestors invested in building our first civic (public) places and urban spaces conceived and conceded to value. The good news is that the original intention of moving from a direct barter-based exchange between buyer and seller to a money system was to include everyone in the economic exchange. As social systems and societies became increasingly more complex and work became more specialized; the farmer was no longer only selling a bushel of barley for a few fish; but fields of barley for occasional belts of leather or blades of metal or bowls of earth and bundles of sheep wool for clothes. So, the money system became a proxy for the barter of goods and services to allow everyone in growing villages and the first world cities; like Urak, Sumeria, Byblos, Rome, Athens, Jericho, and Argos in Mesopotamia, to participate in the local economy. Our original money system was built based on the principle of inclusivity. As transactions increased, services proliferated, and goods came in periodically or seasonally from foreign trade, this money system allowed the first advanced civilizations to well manage their communities and natural resources—their economy and ecology (Eikos/Oikos)- their home. However, as currency in coins were proxies for value—the society could decide where else to place that value in addition to the actual exchange of goods and services. Enter state tax and tax collectors. Enter central banks, bankers, and bank fees-brokerage taxes. … The rest is history?
Fast-forward to today, over 30% of corporate profits goes to banks in fees, interest, and brokerage costs (Andrew Winston, Sustainable Brands 2020). Further, layered on top of bank fees and taxes and subsidies and debt associated with loans that in a complex global marketplace massively distort the entire free market system such that the value of a dollar associated with a product or service widely varies, depending on who you are, where you live, what you are selling, your stock value, and your “credit trustworthiness”.
It’s important to remind ourselves as we imagine building back a better bio-economy that in our complex global economy now– one dollar no longer equals one dollar everywhere in the world, equally for everyone. If we aim to build back a better economy where all stakeholders (not just shareholders) matter; then the inequities that currently exist, matter.
And anyway with new mobile touch-free wallets and digital credit, dollars and cents are no longer tangible proxies for exchange and no longer make dollars and sense. But, if one is able to transact digitally and invest wisely; then one can make a lot of dollars and cents in virtual stock exchanges…also with new digital currencies.
Oh, where have all the (flowers) values gone? Is anyone noticing that we continue to fast track toward disconnecting entirely from the visceral, tangible world, while complicating invisible fee-based infra-red structures? As new AI algorithms are now training on datasets based on historic biases and trends associated with lending; AI left alone in the Wild West without eco-ethics and oversight will likely not create a more level playing field for buying, selling, lending, or borrowing. The incredibly exciting and innovative AI tech world developers need direction and datasets that are continually retrained to mitigate bias. And this is the role of the 4th Industrial Revolution Center Network in collaboration with thoughtful visionaries in the tech community.
Where have all the land-hand, hand-hand, held exchange of flowers and smiles and scents (perhaps freely given), gone? Hail the Digital Age on CV19 steroids has risen. The Empire of E-commerce is here to stay. Clearly, the big winners of CV19 have been technologists designing virtual platforms for E-exchange of everything under the sun (all organic products) and all things manufactured by machine (synthesized products), maybe even 3D printed and delivered by drone in a CV19 safe way household doors. Virtually all companies (e.g. even flower and food markets) now sell from digital storefronts and make products available online for home delivery. Clearly, the virtual Amazon is largely responsible for breathing life into a tempered global economy (as well, their company) during these tumultuous CV19 times. And, thank goodness.
Now imagine, E-commerce as not only electronic; but also ecologic. For example, imagine, a simple, international, capital conversion application; including most (if not all) currencies in the world + natural capital that’s super cyber-safe? For example, imagine bio-based principles integrated and more positively weighted into the variables and parameter assumptions driving SEO search algorithms in machine-learning models. This is an entire discussion for another digital day, but suffice to say you can ‘Google’ Ecosia and start planting trees when you swap your search engine today. And by the way, where have all the stories on national currency gone in our digital currency driven world? I love to travel. And, I loved learning the stories and the symbols written into the currencies of different cultures as I traveled. For example, imagine we keep the cultural diversity and currency stories by making them come alive in little video clips connected to the digital ID of the digital currency, coming soon. Possible?
Speaking of digital currency, the proliferation of digital currencies with information distributed through a blockchain on different computers, managed on multiple virtual stock exchange networks is literally mind-blowing. And already, the exchange of value (and the bank fees associated with that exchange) from country currency to country currency is complicated enough– the valuation of one currency against another, mysterious enough. Bring on blockchain and bitcoin… and only the fastest, AI smart-enabled computers can track and keep up with the pace and scale of now nanosecond transactions made across a virtual banking world and on radio frequencies 24-7 around the world in a parallel universe. Is it fair to say that this proliferation of currencies, the number of transactions, and the speed of transactions is light-years ahead of us? Is it fair to say that the real drivers of our global economy are beyond human intelligence for most of us to track? Have we then lost control of the financial exchange (flow) of value (goods & services) in this hyperactive, un-imaginably complicated, and unavoidably interconnected world? If so, then that’s a problem.
Clearly, it’s time for a Great Reset.
Also eventually, the unrelenting spin of commerce and unending growth of commodities detached from earth-limiting constraints was bound to one day take its toll. Only a powerful, persistent, prolific virus (whether a virtual hack or a full-on pandemic attack) could bring us home. Many climate change scientists, ecologists, botanists, biologists, earth system’s scientists, cultural anthropologists, and historians believed for decades that we would soon come to this moment in our evolutionary history when our social and economic systems (and agreements) with each other and the natural world would be challenged. Many of us knew since our first Biology 101 course that we would soon be given a choice to collectively follow the lead of evolutionary life, which has for 3.8 billion years continued to adapt to environmental change and to support all of life in the exchange… or not. We’ve understood that at one point all of humanity would necessarily come to the realization that a bio-economy is ultimately the only one that sustains earth’s life support systems and underpins the wellbeing of everyone.
The good news is that this time of transformation for humanity is natural and good. Like a pine forest, our world has matured from a migrating meadow into mountain forest stands. And, as our pine forests have now become mature, complex systems succeeded to their climax state… naturally a disturbance will come to return the pine forest back to the meadow and continue the natural cycle of forest succession once again. Natural selection and natural succession are nature’s way of clearing the deck and preparing the land for a global reset. And, Mother Nature is the dynamic portal of life and death, the food-energy source of every day, and ultimately always gets her way.
We have to admit as well, that it never really made real sense in the long run for us to create a type of capital called natural capital and insert it into a financial system where money still got stuck in secure bank accounts or empty third-fourth homes; and services (cheap labor) in emerging economies, still under-valued; and corporate earnings still flowing against gravity always upstream to single sources; and nature’s design IP (biomimetics) still copied for free. I appreciate that in order to help investment bankers, CFOs, and Finance Ministers cross the mindset bridge of recognizing nature and valuing nature’s (free) services at all, it’s important to give a sense of scale to our incredible dependence on the natural world across industries in a language for those currently controlling the global economic system to understand. And, it was helpful to put a $125 trillion USD price tag on the nature’s services we can attribute to real health, food loss, and environmental recovery costs without these nature’s services. It is good to put into perspective that to regenerate 30% of nature –reclaiming wild lands and expanding marine sanctuaries it will cost us $300–$400 Billion USD/year. How else (for now) would the European Union be able to judge size of its 10 year trillion dollar commitment to nature? It is also good to compare the needs of nature’s repair with the 1% of global philanthropic or 1-3% national GDP capital that goes toward protecting the biosphere upon which our planetary and personal health depends. And that said, do we really have to translate the value of the Great Barrier Reef @ $5.7 billion USD/year and 69,000 jobs in ecotourism to make the case that permanently destroying this extraordinarily biologically-rich ecosystem in perpetuity is a priceless loss to people, planet and all of life on the planet? How do we put a price on life? We struggle still (for many reasons) to put a price on carbon. And the more important questions now are: Why are trillions of dollars being spent currently on mining meteors in space, when we know that it is mission critical to invest in the regeneration of degraded ecosystems upon life and livelihoods depend? We may be able to charge our new smart phone, but can’t eat moon rocks. And how is it that we as a global culture invest trillions of dollars in virtual 3D images of prized, rare objects, artwork, paintings, furniture locked away (for protection) on some secret ship dock somewhere in the world, while the vitality of marine ecosystems, whose health is responsible for our every second breath lies in abeyance? We have to change not only the mechanics and infrastructure of the global economic system; but we have to change the mindset that drives the incentive structures, as well.
I agree with Brune Poirson, Minister of the Environment in France; we really need now to base our economy on nature, not the other way around. Our ecosystems are currently collapsing. Biodiversity loss is advancing (1000x faster extinction rates than normal). We are reaching our planetary boundaries where we risk spiraling out of our current Holocene climate and into a new climate (perhaps life-unfriendly) regime. So, we can’t now afford stepwise moves or limitations on our visioning forward with traditional metrics and measurements. We really do need a Global Reset, beyond our wildest naturally intelligent imaginations. Thus, the global discourse on valuing natural capital must evolve and turn itself on its head if we are to create a New Deal with Nature and thrive sustainably as a species connected to nature. The economy of our world and ecology of our earth must resonate and move to a new bio-economic beat.
“There are no jobs on a dead planet. There is no business that can be conducted without being fueled by nature’s goods and services. We treat nature like we are in the casino on the Titanic after hitting the iceberg.” Enrique Sala, Marine Biologist, Largely responsible for 10% of our MPA (marine protected areas), National Geographic
Nature must now drive the bio-economy agenda. It is simply not sustainable for us to continue to use over 1.7 earth’s worth of natural resources/year and run an increasing nature debt. (Global Footprint Network) The economics don’t make sense. And we can no longer afford to merely be accountants– observing and reporting on the exponentially increasing collapse of our planet’s life support systems. Incremental change won’t work.
Clearly, it’s time for a Great Reset
In 2009 when I launched my eco-education company, I called it Eikosphere. Why? Oikos (Eikos) is the Greek word for Home– one’s place of being, where one belongs. It is also the root of Economy– the management of our Home and Ecology– the study of our Home. A Sphere is the most stable, ultimately dimensionless, infinitely inclusive shape. It is no coincidence that the Earth is a sphere and our galaxy’s planets and stars are spheres. Imagine living in an Eikosphere operating on a bio-economy where our presence, purpose, protocols, mutual profit and exchange is based on promoting and propagating the health of earth’s natural systems in an infinitely sustainable, inclusive, naturally intelligent, and stable way. As the Global Risk Reports @ WEF, the IPCCC reports, the IPBES reports, and others continue to warn against environmental collapse, natural disaster, climate change, and now biodiversity loss, it’s no surprise that the World Economic Forum continues to morph into the World Economic-Ecologic Forum, placing greater emphasis on sustainability, climate change, and nature loss at the heart of the Forum’s Annual Meetings. We need a Global Reset.
Game On: Initial Conditions
What new economic system will we design in our new meadow? Who will be at the table designing this new economic ecosystem? How do those designing view the relative place and value of all the different stakeholders within the ecosystem? What new species will our new meadow comprise in our native seed bank? … Ok, and what do we do next?
Game On: Character Profile
I remember a few years back at a meeting in Switzerland former President Frederic Willem de Klerk of South Africa shared a story about his collaboration with Nelson Mandela to revise the current legislation on the apartheid system of racial segregation. In retelling his tale of frustration; President de Klerk shared their brilliant solution to ending apartheid. If only the walls of Nelson Mandela’s jail cell could speak; they would sing. They both decided to imagine different more compassionate characters of themselves and the tribes they represented. Greater empathy for one another grew. And then, they were able to decide on a shared vision for the future. The President told the small group of us gathered that after many months working with Nelson Mandela from his jail cell, red-lining current legislation on the apartheid system of racial segregation; he and Nelson Mandela finally decided to scratch the whole text and start over. It was time for a Great Reset. In 1993, they won the Nobel Prize for Peace for their collaboration in establishing nonracial democracy in South Africa.
Game On: Let’s Begin
The good news is that our world is dynamic; and we are a creative species. We can imagine a new proxy for exchange of value in a global marketplace that’s more pure and more direct and values life as paramount. We can decide to develop our new character profiles with new skins and superpowers. All stakeholders can enter the game with equal opportunity to advance and the guidance to develop a new, unique role.
The good news is that we already have tools and technologies and internationally agreed goals, standards, and targets at our disposal. We already have the internationally agreed Paris Climate Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals as guides and many roadmaps to follow.
We have significant financial resources becoming available in public CV19 relief funds for most every country. Again, the EU passed a $825 billion USD for Europe’s CV19 relief fund and announced plans to set aside 25% of those monies for green, climate-friendly urban construction, EV vehicles, sustainable land use, and clean renewable energy. Again, this relief fund is additional to the largest environmental fund in history, equaling 1 Trillion USD – the EU Green Deal.
The good news is that the international business community is also mobilizing around conscious capital and defining new modes of operation, standards, and ethics for the global commons and the common good (Business for Nature 2020).
The good news is that many country, regions, and local city leaders are sharing best practices for recovering economic strength and many are being bold to build back post-CV19 better, greener, more energy-resource efficient. Pedestrian zones, nature parks, outdoor offices, virtual storefronts, and electric bicycles may soon dominate the urban landscape. (World Environment Day 2020)
The good news is that we know how to make (print) new money to bolster our economies until we can transition to other systems of exchange. So we can invest now in the Great Reset—the transition of our global economic system to a global economic-ecologic system. Enter the bio-economy—the heart of the BiodiverCity. Further, we can decide that maintaining the integrity of Nature is central to playing and maintaining the game. Thus, creating an entirely new system of exchange that values, appreciates, and protect (bio) life becomes the new story world design challenge for us. And this is fun and exciting and innovative and entirely new.
In his appeal at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum, Davos 2020, Prince Charles presented a new vision for our global economy based on biology. He proposed a new global game and he proposed new global game rules. His thesis is to retune our economy back to its original Harmony with nature. Brilliant. And, the ethics and values that Prince Charles outlined @ WEF 2020 in support of the Davos Manifesto 2020 are a great starting point to build back better a bio-economy.
- Capture the imagination and will of the people to decarbonize our lifestyles and to engage in conscious capitalism and consumption.
- Sustain employment and educate people to pivot toward jobs in a new green economy.
- Incentivize the existing systems and those industry leaders who iterate them to re-imagine the basic architecture and infrastructure according to sustainability criteria.
- Re-design pathways and flows of capital toward a circular economy; and by all means flow capital opposed to holding and hoarding it.
- Re-balance futures investment now in the bio-economy, the green economy, and ecotourism; and design blended capital and public-private funds to achieve that end.
… But, not an endpoint.
On this note, the good news is that both the Conservation community and those Indigenous Peoples living their lives and running their local economies on seventh generation cultural engines hold the wisdom we now need to inform a new bio-economy and the Great Reset.
In framing the New Deal for Nature and launching the 2020 Super Decade for Conservation, the scientific community determined that we need an urgent Call to Action to realistically reclaim at least 30% of the world’s oceans and landscapes as nature sanctuaries in time to ensure that we re-balance our atmospheric carbon load and avert a planetary earth system’s collapse. Meanwhile, Indigenous Peoples have always taught to take what you need, give back what you can, and never take more than 50% of any fruit or nut or grass or flower or fish on any land. This simple Code of Stewardship Ethics guides many Indigenous cultures living close to the land– seven generations forward and seven generations back. The Honorable Harvest Canon is a good example of these principles we can borrow to build back better a bio-economy.
Honorable Harvest Canon by the Anishinaabe Tribe:
- Know the ways of the ones who take care of you, so you may take care of them.
- Introduce yourself. Be accountable as the one asking for life.
- Ask permission before taking anything- fish, forage, or forest animal. Listen to the answer; and abide by the response.
- Never take the first. Never take the last.
- Take only what you need.
- Take only that which is given; give back… replant, repair, rebuild right conditions.
- Never take more than half (50%). Leave some for others.
- Harvest in conscious ways that minimize harm.
- Use the life given respectfully, entirely. Never waste what you’ve taken.
- Give thanks to what has been given. Lead life with gratitude.
- Give a gift, in reciprocity for what you have taken.
- Sustain the ones who sustain you and the earth will last forever.
(Adapted from Robin Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass)
In this Native knowledge, we can trust. It is Earth tested and shared by Indigenous People’s speaking different languages and living in different cultures around the world. Personally, I’ve witnessed these canon principles practiced among many Indigenous Peoples; Natives in my home community, villagers in the Italian Alps, coastal farmers of Kaui, Masai hunters of Kenya, sherpas in the Himalayas, and medicine women in Peru.
“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.” William Shakespeare
Dr. Catherine Cunningham, PhD, Natural Intelligence Media is committed to awakening Natural Intelligence in the World. She produces multimedia content — books, films, and podcasts with her creative companions that aim to inspire everyone, everywhere to live a happy, healthy, naturally intelligent life.
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