Hospicing the Extractive Economy while Birthing the Regenerative Economy


Joe Brewer of the Capital Institute’s Regenerative Communities Network crystallized many of the ideas “floating in the air” at the 6th International r3.0 Conference:

“We are experiencing two simultaneous processes that seem contradictory (but aren’t): we’re ‘hospicing’ the dying culture of extractive economies, and ‘birthing’ a new culture of regenerative economies. The growing regeneration movement has been ‘hiding in plain sight’ for decades; the r3.0 community represents a node in this increasingly interwoven global network whose members are reclaiming autonomy and agency to nurture viability of our bioregions that scale out to regenerative societies on a planetary scale.”

Joe’s comments also reflect r3.0’s move into its Second Phase.  r3.0 works with organizations and investors wanting to move to a new economy, collaboratively producing Blueprints as pathways for closing gaps between current reality and aspirations are the core vehicle.  The first generation of Blueprints defined a Green, Inclusive and Open Economy as the aspiration. This produced blueprints for transforming Reporting, Accounting, Data, and New Business Models.

Phase Two introduces the second generation of Blueprints: the Sustainable Finance Blueprint and Value Cycles Blueprint, for those wanting to transform our economy.  The former shifts from degenerative to regenerative finance by integrating Context-Based Sustainability into the mix; the latter proposes a systemic economic structure that shifts from a linear, throughput model (Porter’s value chains) to a biomimetic approach that honors the natural cycles of resource regeneration.

A next round of Phase Two Blueprints, due out in 2021, will focus on the funding and programmatic power of Governments, Multilaterals & Foundations. It will call for a shift from incrementalism to necessary transformation, as well as Education as an opportunity to shift from atomistic to holistic understanding and solutions.

Transformation Journey Programs: Breathing Life into the Blueprints

The Transformation Journey Blueprint breathes life into the home r3.0 is building. And it serves as the curriculum for a 12-month Transformation Journey Program (TJP) consisting of four workshops.  Three TJP pilots walked participants through the creation of their own transformation projects that implement r3.0 Blueprint Recommendations. They validated the “proof-of-concept” and open the door for a host of TJPs with flexible orientations — sectoral, thematic, geographic, etc…

One potential TJP format would leverage the recent statement from the Business Roundtable (BRT), signed by 181 CEOs of US-based corporations, pledging to “redefine the purpose of a corporation to promote ‘an economy that serves all Americans’.” The pledge met both congratulatory and critical responses — Kevin Moss and Eliot Metzger of the World Resources Institute likened the BRT statement (which it characterized as “the corporate social responsibility plan of an earlier generation”) to “Apple announcing a new portable cassette player.”

Global Thresholds & Allocations Council: Setting Boundary Conditions for Vital Resources

r3.0 is undertaking a feasibility study to form a Global Thresholds & Allocations Council (GTAC) as an authoritative approach for allocating fair shares of responsibility to organizations for their impacts on the stocks and flows of capitals – natural, human, social and other resources – within their carrying capacities. Following the core r3.0 strategy of “scale-linking,” the GTAC would assess approaches that respect sustainability thresholds as allocated to multiple scales, tying the micro (organizational) and meso (sectoral, portfolio, and habitat) levels to the macro (ecological, social, and economic systems) levels.

Research Projects: Collaborations to Map Future Directions for Capitals & Indicators

As Phase One wound down, r3.0 introduced two collaborative research projects that lay out new pathways for how capital is defined (and deployed) and for how indicators measure sustainable development, both of which will come online in Phase Two.

  • From Monocapitalism to Multicapitalism: Building on the seeds planted by Richard Howitt, former CEO of the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC), a white paper is integrating the carrying capacities of the capitals (natural, social, human, intellectual, constructed, and financial). By end-of-year 2019, review of it will be completed by a group of advisors including representatives from the Capitals Coalition, Capital Institute, Deloitte, MetaIntegral, Principles for Responsible Investing, Social Value International, and World Business Council for Sustainable Development. A landing page for this project with background resources is here.
  • From Incrementalist to Contextualized and Transformational Indicators: 0 is contributing to a 4-year Sustainable Development Performance Indicators Project for United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD). A first report proposes a Three-Tiered typology of sustainable development performance indicators: a first tier of incrementalist indicators; a second tier of contextualized (thresholds-based) indicators; and a third tier of transformational indicators. A second report will present second tier indicators corresponding to a set of first tier indicators proposed by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). This UNRISD / r3.0 collaboration also has a landing page on the r3.0 Website here.

Ralph Thurm is one of the leading international experts for sustainable innovation and strategy as well as sustainability and integrated reporting. He is Managing Director, co-initiator, content curator and facilitator of the r3.0 Platform.  Bill Baue is r3.0 Senior Director and an internationally recognized expert on ThriveAbility, Sustainability Context, and Online Stakeholder Engagement.

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