Today human beings find themselves in a truly transformative age. We are about 7 billion, making us the most dominant species. A growing percentage of humans have all the material wealth possible. We have been able to connect almost every part of the world with the help of advances of Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
However, we are also experiencing major ecological crisis, biodiversity loss, climate change, desertification, hunger, growing inequality, migration crisis, peaking mental health issues; the list is endless. The world seems very complex with excessive flow of information, digitalization, and automation. However, solutions to these complex problems could be quite simple. The challenge lies mostly in communicating these solutions in an effective manner. One of the first solutions is a concept called CARE economy, coined by Bela Hatvany. The latent need which is not being addressed is care— care for humans, care for our planet, and all that is in it. We all need care; healthy and sick, old and young. We are not caring for our planet and this threatens our species and many others. This suppressed need can be turned into demand by changing the global investment structure.
If we are caring for ourselves, then it's easier to care for others. The beautiful thing about the CARE economy is that it’s complimentary to a shared economy. Today, companies like Airbnb and Uber have exploited the digital age and the internet to develop business like shared transport and accommodation based on the shared economy and they have become some of the biggest companies in the world. The main advantage of the shared economy is that it reduces the need to consume and buy everything as an individual, and allows to share like never before The more conscious we become of the collective body, the easier it would be to manifest a shared economy. In my work in Stockholm, I have recently got engaged in a shared economy project called the Viable Cities, and we will be facilitating the collaboration between the businesses, government, researchers, and residents of the Kista region.
Today we need to realize that we are not owners, but stewards of resources. The air that I breathe, water that I drink, and the land that I live on belong to our collective commons. The boundaries that were created to enable private wealth is an illusion, as we will all perish with mother nature. My friend Visier from Nagaland shared with me his calling for creating a healing garden in Nagaland, which is a space to connect with the forest and the soil, something that has given healing to many.
Organisations like Commonland have a ‘four returns concept’ where they invest in degraded landscapes. They talk about returning inspiration, social capital, natural capital, and financial capital. However, these returns are not short term, as they have 20-year horizon on these investments. There are other examples like Better Globe which is creating opportunity for people to invest in planting trees in Kenya, Uganda, and other degraded landscapes. The model offers a 15%return on investment, on top of building schools for local people, creating access to water, and giving microloans to local enterprises.
In addition to the 24 trees that you maintain and receive a return from, another 24 trees are donated to people in connection with the plantations. Regardless of who provides the trees, they have one thing in common — they absorb carbon dioxide from the air. The 48 trees absorb approximately 30 tons of carbon dioxide and other pollutants from the atmosphere. Emissions of an average family is equivalent to 22–24 tons per year. There are other companies like Skymining and Etik Invest who are offering similar opportunities.
However, the biggest shift that will take place is with the transformation of monetary systems to recognize social and ecological function as a currency. I remember John Liu’s work on the restoration of Loess Plateau where the ecological function is more valuable than the total value of products/services in the economy. Today with the help of organisations like Regen Network we can measure ecological function, and other indicators can measure the societal function.
The beautiful thing is that we can transition quickly from the current debt-based monetary system to a regenerative financial system which is based on creating natural and social capital. The key for these simple solutions is the art of allowing, listening, and embracing what is natural and brings joy and leaving old beliefs and fears, which have been holding back humanity. We need to listen to our hearts, speak the truth, and act on the intuition and that will guide us in this transition.
Rishab Khanna has a degree in Economic Development, Environmental Legislation and Management, International Law and Diplomacy and is passionate to bring harmony in the social and ecological systems. With the Initiatives of Change Sweden, Rishab has had the opportunity to co-design a peace and development programme in Somalia, funded by SIDA, and deliver a program of social cohesion in a suburb of Stockholm, called ‘Hope in Jarva’. He is also a social entrepreneur supported social enterprise in Uganda, Kenya and India. He is the author of a book called Surging Beyond the Bottom Line: Insights Into a Successful Integral Enterprise and has been co designing the ‘Trust and Integrity in the Global Economy’ conferences for last 7 years. More recently he started work with an European Union funded project called ‘Migrants and Refugees as Rebuilders’, which is building capacity of adult educators in Sweden, Turkey, Spain, and the UK to be more effective at their work with migrants and refugees.
NOTE: Individuals of many cultures, nationalities, religions, and beliefs are actively involved with Initiatives of Change. These commentaries represent the views of the writer and not necessarily those of Initiatives of Change as a whole.