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In this blog I explain an evolution in our region in Holland where many people of all kinds of talent and status of authority seem to reach a level of awareness and personal leadership which motivates to join in a new level of responsibility together. We refer to this as level 4, one level above the hierarchies of political and economic powers, and one in which we allow core human and natural values to define our priorities and innovative investments. It is interesting to see how it captures the interest of the global community who visit us for inspiration and cocreation. This blog was also publised on LinkedIn in Dutch.
Never before in history the modern human being has been challenged as whole to put the shoulders under our evolutionary survival. Now we have. Ever since we crossed the invisible line of about 3 billion fellow members of our species, the lifestyle based on the economy and politics of production and consumption started to damage our surrounding is an irrevocable way. This happened somewhere between the 50’s and 60’s of last century and millennium. This seems very far away but in essence is the timeframe of the current generation aged 50+. It is all part of today still, not at all far away.
Before we crossed this invisible line the natural reproductive abundance of our planet Earth could still recover from our destructive behaviour of greed and aggressive competition. But after this crossing it could not anymore, not if our human species would continue the way it did. We are now well on our way to a population of 9 billion indivdiuals, three times that of 70 years ago. What have we done in the meantime? Gradually we became more and more aware of the problems and introduced new processes such as Cradle to Cradle, Biomimicry, circular economy, CSR, costly bureaucracy and new rules, costly healthcare systems, etc. Yet our steering mechanisms, based on sustaining the political and economic hierarchies, with primarily consumption driven civilians, has only been expanded and sustained artificially by the local and worldwide structures of financial power and control. Our fragmented money driven structures can only take responsibility for their little islands of self interest and none oversees the whole that is being seriously damaged, with very unpleasant consequences. Each for themselves take competitive measures out of economic or political self sustaining interest, contributing at the same time to the worsening of the problems without sensing direct responsibility for the whole, just their part. The submission to money remains leading, not our evolutionary self resilience as a species.
There are two twee routes we can take.
The first route is the one of the least resistance. We just keep going with our lifestyle and political-economic steering. Eventually nature will take over and reduces humankind to proportions below the line of (self)destruction. This is normal in nature. As soon as a lifeform cannot feed itself anymore or becomes sick it dies out and is taken over by healthier lifeforms. Whatever remains of the sort that collapsed is so much smaller that it is not dangerous anymore for itself or the rest of the lifeforms. These last mentioned get the new space to develop themselves according to the same rules of nature.
According the current situation of humankind we can expect to be reduced to about 1 to 2 billion people in a natural way via catastrophes, crises, hunger and wars. Nature does not make distinction between people and just cleans up. If we look closely at what is going on in the world we see this process already happening.
The second route is the one of awareness and taking of responsibility. We have already seen that none of the fragmented parties of self-interest can do this on their own, unless they do it together. But who takes initiative? Awareness is not limited to some happy few. It also reaches the mindset of policy makers, entrepreneurs, scientists and many civilians who all want to do something about it but often feel hindered by their individual or executive limitations. Lifting all these people, in all their diversity of talents and authorities, to a new level of interaction, above the political and economic hierarchies, we create a new level and area of cocreation, referred to as a Sustainocracy, in which the natural and human core values are leading. Together we choose our priorities, allocate means and arrive at innovative project that help change the old reality in all its dimensions. An independent Sustainocrat is enough to pave the way into level 4 leadership, the leadership that follows the development of core values together. On this level an executive policy maker can define arguments that reduce rules and bureaucracy, entrepreneurs develop new, revolutionary products and services while civilians innovate themselves socially through adjustments in behaviour and lifestyle, without reducing their quality of life, on the contrary. At the same time the functional layers of regional development become subject to integrale innovation in the field of residence, food, energy supplies and usage, mobility, local involvement and reward of participation, recreation, etc. Step by step the energetic dynamics of cohesion and care for each other and the environment develops. The good example spreads and reaches other people and institutions who wish and can participate. Those who put up resistance have to come up with powerful arguments if they keep blocking human core values, risking eventually to be held liable for this. A new culture and economy appears, referred to as the transformation economy, which has a harmonizing effect on the community while contributing to the expansion of all kinds of new innovations that can serve the rest of the world too.
In Eindhoven and Brabant we have been applying this level 4 regional development for about 7 years now and the approach grows in both recognition as local and international support. Apparently we have created a new culture together in which we can freely look for connection between level 4 leadership of people of a great diversity of talents and authority. In other areas this is often not yet possible. That is why the first mentioned route will still show us huge amounts of human suffering and drama for a long time to come and will even affect us despite our intentions. But the route we have chosen gives us hope with strength and will, as expected, sproat elsewhere as soon as people become aware of the option its way of functioning and the potential of this evolution in human and natural self-aware coexistence.
STIR foundation is ideological and practical founder of Sustainocracy, and since 2010 initiator of level 4 cooperative formats such as AiREAS (healthy air, healthy cities), FRE2SH (local cooperation for resilience in basic needs), STIR level 4 learning cooperation (education to reach level 4), Rijk van Dommel en Aa……enz. This format of level 4 regional development has been accredited in 2015 by external research and received the VINCI European Innovation Award. Sustainocracy has been introduced in 2016 in 26 regions of Europe, India and China. During all kinds of encounters, publications, presentations and workshops you can get acquainted with the expertise, methods and achievements.
We need to seriously rethink the fundamental basics of our European Union as a modern evolutionary step within the context of the times we live in today. But first we should regain respect to the original motivation to get to a union in the first place.
This first motivation was PEACE, not economics!
In 1950 the political discourse developed around the avoidance of war. The experiences of worldwar II had lead to the understanding that the continuation of conflict and competition would only damage the communities as war technology had reached a status of mass destruction, proven by the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The constant conflicts between France and Germany (and the UK) around resources also gave rise to new solutions. Resource based competition was to be avoided at all times, a modern insight of deeper awareness after painful war lessons. The European Coal and Steel Union was established among six inner circle countries as a first treaty for peace. The purpose of the Union was directed by a core human value which was needed to create cohesion, productivity and progress through peace.
Liberalizing trade of key resources such as coal and steel would do the trick so that speculation around shortages and self protection was eliminated and replaced by open dialogue and sharing for mutual benefit.
In subsequent steps the freedom of trade, movement of people, goods, services and capital became dominant in the political discours and developed purely from an economical point of view, justified politically by the perception of financial needs to provide social securities and infrastructures. Economically is was also justified by the growing amount of money driven self interests among bankers, politicians and spinoffs. They had been given near to carte blanche to speculate. Risk and investment became a public issue of the crowd, profit was reserved for the private interests.
The original purpose element of peace reduced to the background. Economic trade, labour and services could be taxed and created a huge field for the development of bureaucracy of control and regulatory measures in which the hierarchy of money and power became leading. Time passed by and the European institution became self protective at the expense of it origins. Control and institutional self interests became more important than the core human and regional values that had been the origin of the establishment. Governance and banks and institutions became “partner in crime” rather than “servants to human progress”.
Huge issues demand redirection of Europe , back to its core values
European citizens have been made slave to mortgages, tax and insurrance costs. Most of these contributions were once thought of as measures to avoid social uprise and war but now are systematized hierarchies for institutional self interests. Justice has become an instrument to sustain the hierarchy, not human values.
Meanwhile huge issues demand Europe to get back to its core, its original value driven dialogue and enhance it with even more. The political economic steering on trade, economic speculation and salarized jobs (taxable and controlable by the authorities) has put us in the hands of economic and dictatorial preditors, producing gigantic pollution and destruction of both our habitat and our life expectations.
Our lifestyle also devastates other areas in the world. In the last 40 years more than half the marine population disappeared. We reduced the amount of trees by half in that same period. All this is producing conflicts and massive migration patterns that are being answered with cold political reflection not anywhere near the humanitarian and planetary responsibility that we share among each other.
Climate change affects our overall safety perspectives and sustainable progress. It requires the involvement of all hands and minds to save or adjust what we can through awareness driven cocreation.
Our own STIR research has reached a poin that we can state firmly that the current political economic context is largely responsible for the human made catastrophical issues and that the response of those in charge is insufficient due to their steering from the wrong priorities.
From an anthropological point of view we follow the usual cycle of human complexities. In the 50’s, when the first basis was laid for the creation of Europe, the awareness driven motivation was peace. This introduced the changes in border management, free trade and transparant policies between the first member states. It became consolidated in the organizational complexity of the region through cocreation. It worked so well that others wanted to join.
Then new generations of politicians and economists came on board that forgot rapidly the origins and motivation of the union and only resonated with managing the field of economic growth, greed and control. We have been occupying the field of organized greed (growth economy) ever since we let go of the gold standard in the 70’s as colatoral for our money based systems. We placed the burden of value against labor and resources of the future placing a mortgage on our selves that only grew exponentially.
Since the credit crisis in 2008 we have been in confrontation with our lack of morality. While citizen’s and social entrepreneurs were forced into new awareness driven change, often after a phase of personal chaos, the political agenda evolved into saving whatever they could through capital injections, more control measures and blocking the ethical evaluation of their programs. Gradually tension builds up in Europe due the growing leadership at civilian level and lack of a change mentality at political level. Chaos seems inevitable.
Brexit is a clear wake up call, no matter the outcome. If the political economic agenda does not transform rapidly into one of core human values the catastrophy will be unprecedented and with just one to blame: the EU political economists. The instrument of capital injections is useless when health or safety cannot be bought. We cannot buy our evolution as a species we need to adjust to it. The key resources of our region are our people, not the money in the pockets of bankers or the stack of IOU’s they wave with.
The only way to jump chaos is to accept change as a fact and act accordingly, like so many do already. Yet change needs a powerful and robust reason. Overcoming a crisis is a reason, using our self aware wit too. From self awareness we provide our list of core human values (Sustainocracy) that will unite Europe in cocreation for the next few 100 years:
- local self resilience
- applied awareness
- fullfillment of our basic needs in food, drinking water and healthy air
If we don’t address these issues together then European will fall apart. If we do then cohesion is essential, not a escapist issue anymore for the Britisch or anyone else. In fact, the British isles are very vulnerable because they cannot be easily self sufficient in terms of food and drinking water for the enormous population on the isles. Change in food productivity is an issue for the entire world but people on islands have more at risk than those on the mainland. Nevertheless, the connection with Europe cannot be sustained from the old money and power driven governance context. To solve this a new pact is needed, one based on cocreation guided by the core human values that unite us. We call it Sustainocracy, a change for which we can choose. It will also change our empathy with Africa and the Middle East. Peace will become a driver and human core values lead. Every one participates.
The inspiration came from a Dutch region referred to as “Rijk Dommel en Aa”. The region is not formally registered as such. It comprises two mid sizes cities and 5 smaller communities. It is surrounded by canals and rivers which make it a rectangular territory.
This confinement had been for some years a place to develop regional cocreation at government level. At one stage someone asked me to look at the region from a practical sustainocratic point of view. Two converging lines came together, governance and peer 4 regional sustainocratic development. How do we unite those lines into a functional format that enhances the combination rather than drive them apart?
Governance tends to deploy itself around “files”. These files normally live a life of their own within the context of current political-economic steering mechanisms. Rijk Dommel and Aa had its own traditional files for the region:
- Energy and Water
- Nature and Recreation
- Housing and living
- Farming and Food
The focus that government had agreed among themselves was to facilitate the population’s spare time (recreation, sport) development.
When Sustainocracy started to look at the region, that hosts 400.000 residents with an multiple equivalent of regular visitors to festivals, activities, recreation, tourism and special events, it introduced the 5 core values for regional development (health, safety, basic needs, self resilience and self awareness). At provincial level we are developing the Health Deal, inspired on the Healthy City commitment in Eindhoven through AiREAS. During a first multidisciplinary encounter the people present were asked to come up with ideas to simply enhance this particular member of the leading core values: Health.
In the cocreation exercize 6 areas of attention were defined:
- How can we involve all people and institution into this health driven process? (involve)
- What are the impediments and problem spots in the region? (impediments)
- What are the admirable initiatives that can be highlighted and supported? (initiatives)
- What experimental initiatives can we define? (experiments)
- Can we organize events for people to experience what we want to achieve with their help? (events)
- Let’s investigate in the region what residents feel about the subject? (research)
Health, files and areas of attention
With “health” as leading topic the files and areas of attention could easily be combined into a matrix.
Just one meeting was needed to populate the matrix with multidisciplinary teams that develop the ideas into projects with the corresponding commitments.
When a project is defined it is seconded by all and deliveres a measurable result that can be related to the higher sustainocratic purpose, Health in this case. Since all key partners are available to commit resources the project can get rapidly equiped with the finances, technology, human creativity and hands on power to get into an execution phase. The process can be repeated as often as needed in the region with increasing involvement of all stakeholders together.
The process is fast, dynamic and very effective. One of the polical executives mentioned with a degree of surprise: “In one afternoon extremely difficult and complex projects are defined here and committed, what normally takes us 30 years!”
Many regions around the world are now coming to see how we do this. India, China, central Europe, Turkey, etc are candidates for developing sustainocratic platforms soon.
We tend to work in three steps with them in Eindhoven:
- Come over to learn and get inspired
- Come over to discuss how to implement it within their own regional complexity?
- Implement locally and establish a cooperation to work together
That is how Sustainocracy expands by combining governance with new guidance based on core human values and integral societal involvement.