Rebuild Economics of environmental stewardship

Building a Regenerative Economy

A new eco­nom­ic sys­tem must be designed to serve the time­less needs of human­i­ty while still mak­ing sure to respect the envi­ron­men­tal lim­i­ta­tions of the planet.

Com­pe­ti­tion does not need to be baked into our econ­o­my. The glob­al econ­o­my can instead incen­tivize coop­er­a­tion on a mas­sive scale. Our cur­rent econ­o­my, that entrench­es rigid class sep­a­ra­tion, could soon enough van­ish into the records of history.

Accord­ing to the regen­er­a­tive eco­nom­ic think­ing shared by impact investor John Fuller­ton and spir­i­tu­al teacher Thomas Hüble, a new eco­nom­ic sys­tem can do much more than react to fac­tors like ris­ing or declin­ing GDP fig­ures. Instead, a new eco­nom­ic sys­tem can become the orga­ni­za­tion­al mod­el by which wealth is redis­trib­uted more equi­tably to meet the basic needs of all peo­ple. By pur­su­ing long-term think­ing, rather than being sole­ly focused on short-term quar­ter­ly prof­its, invest­ments have a bet­ter chance at being more close­ly affil­i­at­ed with eco­log­i­cal con­ser­va­tion and restoration.

Algae bio­plas­tics cul­tur­ing, Eric Klaren­beek and Maart­je Dros

In many ways, a regen­er­a­tive econ­o­my cor­re­sponds to a cir­cu­lar econ­o­my in that both require val­ue chains to make use of recy­cled mate­ri­als and both encour­age pro­duc­tion of longer-last­ing goods. These changes will go hand in hand with more respon­si­ble man­age­ment of nat­ur­al resources. And more last­ing effects will include the cre­ation of social and envi­ron­men­tal cap­i­tal to ensure more demo­c­ra­t­ic access to vital resources.

In overde­vel­oped coun­tries, prin­ci­ples of degrowth will need to be pur­sued to mit­i­gate the risks of over-pro­duc­tion and over-con­sump­tion. In her book, Plen­i­tude: The New Eco­nom­ics of True Wealth, Juli­et B. Schor (Pro­fes­sor of Soci­ol­o­gy at Boston Col­lege) makes the case for an econ­o­my that pri­or­i­tizes eco­log­i­cal and social flour­ish­ing through cul­ti­va­tion of the wealth inher­ent in human rela­tion­ships.23 The idea of plen­i­tude offers an ide­al frame­work for the process of shift­ing val­ues away from mate­r­i­al con­cerns to more far-reach­ing dynam­ics between peo­ple and planet.

“Real change means putting pur­pose at the cen­tre of how val­ue is defined by firms, gov­ern­ments, and the eco­nom­ic the­o­ry that informs pol­i­cy-mak­ers.” — Mar­i­ana Mazzucato

“RIPPLE (cymat­ics 1–9)” Jake Ama­son, 2018

A Pro­fes­sor of Eco­nom­ics of Inno­va­tion and Pub­lic Val­ue at Uni­ver­si­ty Col­lege Lon­don (UCL), Mar­i­ana Maz­zu­ca­to pro­pos­es a kind of sym­bi­ot­ic cap­i­tal­ism in which all par­tic­i­pants thrive.24 We believe in the need to change how pub­lic val­ue is eval­u­at­ed in order to tack­le soci­etal chal­lenges. Pub­lic insti­tu­tions and col­lec­tive enter­pris­es yield ben­e­fits that ought not to be exploit­ed for pri­va­tized profit.

As tax­pay­ers, we cit­i­zens get to be share­hold­ers in the pub­lic ser­vices that enable untold oppor­tu­ni­ties to devel­op. It’s essen­tial we stand up for com­mon access to the very secu­ri­ties that make inno­va­tion possible.

The econ­o­my can shift to empow­er local­ized solu­tions to endem­ic prob­lems. In this way, the very act of prob­lem-solv­ing becomes a means for going straight to the root cause of unfair eco­nom­ic agen­das. In the future we imag­ine, gov­ern­ments, com­pa­nies, and insti­tu­tions will enact mea­sures to set an agen­da of basic decen­cy, dig­ni­ty, and oppor­tu­ni­ty to pur­sue mean­ing and pur­pose in one’s life.

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