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After the corona wake up a new era starts



Level 4 society, following levels 1, 2 and 3


COVID19, or the coronavirus, has provided us involuntarily with the blueprint of a new type of society. The measures of change that we could only dream of in a world based on money driven economies of growth have been imposed on us now by nature and “the system” itself. These measures are out of structural self protection yet introduce a new reality that demands effective continuity to avoid continuous repetition through other viruses or crises of other kinds. This continuity can only be achieved through the modification of many things that used to be part of our blind comfort zone. This document gives us the blueprint that was developed over the years in the region of Eindhoven (Netherlands) and put into practice step by step during the last 11 years. Also here the community is asked to upgrade itself firmly to level 4 Sustainocracy.   


Every change is difficult. On a personal level it is already quite a challenge. More complex it becomes still when it involves more people. To get the support of everyone involved (or affected) it is very important to get people to understand why the change is introduced, invite them to join and make them engaged participants. This should be done through necessity, awareness and positivism, not just  fear and risk management via impositions, like we witness during the corona crisis. UNITED is a method that helps during complex changes. We use it to move to a new societal level, level 4, all together, citizens and institutions alike.

Understand, Need, Involvement, Targeted, Entrepreneurial, Devolted


The U of Understanding

Why level 4? It was Einstein who said “We can’t solve problems by using the same way of thinking we used when we created them”. For a long time already we have been debating our misuse of our planetary resources, the elimination of lifeforms due to human pollution and destructive activities, and our speculative consumer society “caring” through the costly repair of illnesses rather than proactively focus on integral health. Top level agreements were signed, such as the Earth Charter, or introduced, such as the Sustainable Development Goals. But they all remain within the “same kind of thinking”, namely the overall fragemented focus on economies of growth and repairing illnesses. 

Then the coronavirus came. In a short time frame the human world sensed its tremendous vulnerability, as a species, individually (the proximity of possible death) and as globalized society (potential massive sufferings, pandemic and chaos), as a specific type of economy (remedially reactive rather than adaptively proactive). Suddenly our health became the world’s major concern. Due to the shortcomings and risks of the current societal format we were all forced into a lockdown. Fear became our biggest trigger to adjust our lifestyle instantly in an unprecedented way. Decades of warnings, images of poverty, child death and abuse, hunger around the world, labor abuse, severe pollution, climate change warning, etc never could do what a single little virus did: put us to a hold. 

Many agree that this hold has to be a temporary solution. It was necessary to avoid flooding the heavily downsized hospital intensive cares with a tsunami of very ill people. But this cannot continue forever, nor repeat itself. In order to avoid it our health (resistance, resilience and immunity) has to become leading, not money or political interests. Else we will face Corona 2.0, 3.0, any other virus name or new natural disasters affecting us all. 

At the same time, during lockdown we could witness the effect on our environment. It was not a reduction of the amount of people on Earth that made the difference, it was the changed lifestyle and equivalent reduced level of polluting activities. We could suddenly enjoy blue skies, clearing waters, return of wildlife, and breathe healthier air. 

Then we realised that it was our focus on health instead of money that was achieving this. Health is a core natural and human value. This should be more important than the old economic formats, and for the first time it was. Maybe the motivation for the lockdown could be fear (people) and control (system) but the final result is reassurance (love) and potential trust (there is a difference).

The question now is not “how do we get back to normal?”. The question is now “how do we maintain the positive effects of the corona measures by transforming our economies and behavior focused on sustainable natural human values, rather than money?” 

Can we do this with the current players in society? The answer is: yes!  But to do it we should all do it, together: 

  • Citizens 
  • Government
  • Innovative entrepreneurship
  • Knowledge institutes and schools 

That is what we call level 4. 

Level 4 is our societal progress on top of levels 1, 2 and 3. These levels have historically determined the look and feel of a particular region or city. Building up these levels never took health into consideration as the priorities and motives of building the community were different. 

  • Level 1: basic infrastructure. At some stage in history there was a reason for people to gather in an area and form a community. A castle, a church, a marketplace, a  harbor, a cross road, whatever. Buildings were built and streets put in place. That is level 1.
  • Level 2: integrated infrastructures. As a community grew it became more complex. Additional structures needed to be added such as street lights, sewers, water drains, shops, services.  
  • Level 3: SMART. Smart (technological) elements were added to the modern world. Traffic lights to manage traffic, sensors to support determining plans by using data, camera for safety, etc. Nowadays it is the internet in order to work from home.

Level 1 could be done together a long time ago when the community was small enough. Put as it became bigger and more complex a kind of common service was put into place that would take the responsibility for the collective services. As the collective overrules the individual this common service (now government) gradually had more and more say in the regional development. Levels 1, 2 and 3 are nowadays completely wrapped into the powerculture of such governance. Via a democratic debate choices could be discussed against specific interests. Possible consequences at human level could, if necessary, be dealt with in a similar manner as deciding about a building, a street or investment in technology, all based on interests with costs and benefit analysis. 

Since governments over time, and especially these last decades developed a risk avoiding political “care policy” the general care system (not just healthcare, also disabilities, elderly schemes, unemployment, etc) grew also into a significant cost and field of private and public interest debates. These costs tended to rise fast, under pressure due to the growing care requirements within an economically stimulated, overrated consumer lifestyle, aging population, cost saving industrial automation, processed unhealthy food and highly polluting logistic and mobility structures. Remedial care also got wound up in a battle of interests, just like any other government file. 

“The human being” and our wellness was often used as a political argument in regional development and governance but mostly in the context of consomer potential, taxable labour participation,  cost allocation, taxes, insurances, payment of mortgages and risk behavior (gatherings and uprise against the system). Policy was focused on income (economic growth), cost savings, regional growth and “keeping a political degree of satisfaction of the largest part of the population”. Gradually it became clear, especially to the people in government structures, that this approach was feeding its own problems. However, it is deeply rooted in the governance and societal cultural history with corresponding fragmented institutions and the general public that got dependent on its functioning.  

The population and globalized, citified, societal structure gets to deal with crises. Viruses are one (Influenza, Corona, Sars, HIV, etc), greedy self interests and manipulation (political economic conspirators) are a second. More and more often the human resilience as a species is becoming part of the discussion due to the lack of proactive attention for the human being, our core values and natural environment. One part of the population wants to hold on to the lifestyle and world economy, and see the growth of the world population as a problem. Others see an integral healthy life as a basic natural right, sensing our dependence and vulnerability with lack of resilience as a problem. 

Each of these types of people and groups express themselves throughout the world. Sticking to the old expresses itself through control and manipulation (including  lockdown). Change to health and resilience expresses itself through accepting the deployment of level 4 (we take our own responsibility, together).

At level 4 we place “the human being” and our biological and community resilience, not the political economic system of interest that reigned levels 1, 2 and 3. By placing the human being and our core natural values at the center of attention we invite all people to engage together to take responsibility together. People who work in institutions make these entities instrumental to these core values. It gives this institution a reason to be through the recognition of bringing its expert values to the table in the context of proactively developing our human values. Professional functions within companies are made servant to these values and can be engaged to take co-responsibility. Functions such as alderman, civil servant, police, entrepreneur, doctor, nurse, care institutions, etc but also responsible citizenship can be stimulated for healthy behavior and lifestyle. 

At level 4 we do it all together. Institutions are our toolbox, the creative hands of the healthy society are of the human being itself.

And what happens with the layers 1, 2 and 3? They remain in the hands of the government, as before. Only the decisions are now based on level 4 and not old self interests. The execution at these infrastructural levels is in the expert hands of the professional institutions, who usually have a seat also at the level 4 table.

Financially local government are asked to reserve 5% of their anual budgets for the level 4 processes, 95% for the usual processes.

The N of Need 

Once we “understand”, not only the overall “why” but also our own required involvement in the changes, a need arises as well as a sense of urgency to leverage ourselves to this operational level of “human and environmental” wellness. We cannot proceed the way we did as this would only lead to more crises such as COVID19 with corresponding economic and human malaise. It is also not logical that new lockdowns or possible a vaccine provides us long term resilience and safety. The only solution is to go step by step for a new societal cohesion in which money can be a means and our health, immunity and resilience as a community is our permanent goal, of all present in a region, equally citizens and institutions. We cannot throw our history over board, nor our existing structures. They are too valuable for that. We can however engage them in level 4 and ask them to function accordingly, meanwhile feeding the other levels in an innovative and wellness driven manner. 

The I of Involvement 

The principle of “together” once understood becomes relevant and challenging. Each participant, whether citizen or institution, carries a unique responsibility and offers a concrete contribution to the whole. When organisations such as government, business enterprises, NGO’s, educators, knowledge institutions, etc sense the urgency the involvement becomes fundamental for them as well. When one participates one can adjust one’s own essentials to the new context and make one valuable through creativity, added value and authenticity. The creation of one’s right of existence in this new reality is fundamental. It takes often one’s own path of transition and the ability to adjust. Participation makes it worth the while. 

Such right of existence is not a given for every existing organization. There will be institutions that only had a function on the old reality and will be doomed to disappear (often with resistance). Some can and will adjust by adopting a new elan. There will also be new initiatives that in the old reality had no space or simply could not yet exist. The transformation path hence will shape a new economic and financial ecosystem with old, adapted and new players. 

This we call evolution. One joins or not, it remains a judgment and choice. 

The T of Targeted 

The purpose of the “transformation of the economic and financial system for sustainability” is too vague and abstract for many to connect, despite the sense of urgency and need. The COVID19 virus brought some concrete challenges by introducing the proactive shared responsibility for human “health and resilience” also from an environmental perspective. But also making effective a proactive “care for health” system. By anticipating on the documented core natural human values a new dialogue arises that can focus on local priorities, project choices and learning processes. 

Level 4 concentrates on the core natural human values only, and at regional level. These core values are summarized as follows:

Examples of such targeted subcategories for level 4 project tables, are:

  • Human resilience, immune system and health
  • Care for health
  • Urban food and health
  • Regional human dynamics, mobility and health
  • Urban development, residence, social interaction and health
  • Air quality and regional dynamics
  • Energy, quality of life and local productivity
  • Urban and rural engagement on integral wellness 
  • Transition of food production from monoculture to natural diversity
  • Etc

Some of these challenges already have documented level 4 precedents and only need to be adopted in other regions, adjusting them to local priorities and their own UNITED processes. 

  • AiREAS – air quality, health and regional dynamics
  • FRE2SH – urban agriculture and healthy food
  • COS3i – social inclusion and innovation
  • School of Talents – participating learning 

All level 4 clusters enhance each other, have overlapping activities and can be managed as such in order to multiply the value creation with positive engagement, cohesion and cross fertilization of processes. 

The E of Entrepreneurial 

Entrepreneurship is not limited to old money driven business activities. We are all entrepreneurs, every day, in terms of “to initiate or do something”, whether this is as a job or personally in our daily life. When we decide to initiate something we better try to “do something good or beneficial”. The word “benefit” has in modern times often been limited to financial parameters. Benefit in terms of intrinsic core human, environmental or societal value, is less common even though unconsciously we apply it all the time. If it is just money driven then we tend to “forget” our moral judgement about the consequences of our choices. After all, money is goal, not moral or ethics. To change that, and use money as means rather than goal, we adopted the 21st century entrepreneurship structure referred to as the 4 x Profit or 4 x Value principal, also known as the Pyramide Paradigm for integral value creation:

  1. Value for the human being, in terms of our core natural values, such as health,
  2. Value for society in the shape of societal engagement, recognition, reward, participation, shared responsibility, cost savings, equality, participatory learning, awareness
  3. Value for the environment by avoiding or dealing with pollution, developing circular processes in material usage, the redefinition and restoration of natural spaces and ecosystems,
  4. Value for our economic continuity. 

This 4 x Profit/Value model is proper of level 4 regional and cultural development. It is not only relevant for level 4 business development but also for government participation, self aware citizenship, knowledge development and application. In level 4 projects all values need to be positive. 

The D of Devoted 

The level 4 connection via UNITED and the human core values is significant. It touches the senses and passion of participants. This is due to the recognition people and institutions receive for their added value in the development of our core values of which they themselves take benefit too. When people and institutions recognize and strengthen their self worth in cooperation it stimulates their motivation to take part and grow in the process. Specialized functions are also recognized and valued. 



Who is responsable for the start of the UNITED invitation? General awareness of the fundamental importance of our core natural human values is leading. Also the understanding that such proactive responsability cannot be carried by government nor delegated by citizens. It needs to be cocreated.

So who is responsible for level 4? We all are together but no institution can take the lead since equality rules at this level, not the system. The invitation to participate in cocreation of the core values is therefore done by a politically and economically independent person or NGO. These organise and finance themselves through the project driven level 4 approach, using the transparent 10-10-80 formula. We call this person or NGO a Sustainocrat. 

Per level 4 cluster this can be 1, normally 2, maximum 3 persons. They connect the diversity of participants, protect the core values driven framing and multidisciplinary co-creation, assure equality at the table and function as table chairperson. In case of the execution of projects they try to make sure that agreements are being met, the objectives are being reached and, in case of problems or conflicts, the issues are escalated again to the group processes.

Within the clusters attention is being paid to the coaching of participants in order to maximize the value creation among each other and offer each partner guidance when confronted with transition or transformation challenges of their own. .


Since various years the term “Small Heroes” appeared in Brussels and Europe. This refers to regions or municipalities that adopted integral wellness as level 4 participation model. Larger cities show fragmented interests in powerful silos of compartmentalisation that people increasingly see it as the source of unhealthy behavior, manipulation, speculation and ghetto-like situations. The small heroes become increasing attractive, especially for families with children, elderly and artists that find a connection with nature, with social engagement, rest, and positiveness as compared to the large city alternative. In the small heroes alternative value systems can be deployed in order to further stimulate the cohesion and cocreation. Relationships among small heroes can develop exchange of goods and services of abundance. For many people dealing with governance it is much nicer and rewarding to be active in the environment of a small hero than the field of tension of a large city. 

Jean-Paul Close

Founder of Sustainocracy, level 4 co-creation

City of Tomorrow – UNITED

Expert consultant for level 4 initiatives worldwide


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