Is it a pandemic, a health crisis, an economic crisis or a crisis of meaning that our society is going through right now? Even before CoVid, some important questions for the future were posed, and it has been clear since the Club of Rome report from 1972 that human society must reorient itself in its definition of growth.
Has she really done this so far?
There are now many technologies, products and ways to better protect the climate and the planet, and there are many people who are already dedicating their lives and work to these issues. Nevertheless, many industrialized countries have taken old production plants off the grid, but instead of scrapping them, they have simply been sold to countries with lower environmental regulations and continue to produce there unchanged. There are too many of these examples to suggest that the richer industrialized nations have simply exported their pollution and environmental degradation to poorer countries. Just as many of them do to this day with their hazardous waste or other waste.
Many sustainability debates have now ended in these industrialized countries and some actions and sanctions have also taken place. Renewable energies, electromobility and many other keywords are often mentioned here as examples of improvements in the area of sustainability. But wait, maybe this very concept of sustainability is already a smoke and mirrors, because its meaning and effectiveness are not as clear as we like to think. The explanation that I find easiest is that the term, which comes from forestry, simply means that you can’t take more from a system than is available, because otherwise there will eventually be nothing left.
On the other hand, there is a growth logic and strength that has lasted for several generations and connects large private fortunes with global networks. If you take the basic physical law of “attraction” to help, you will quickly find that large capital also automatically attracts it. The pandemic has clearly shown that these large private fortunes are not only crisis-resistant, but are also growing extremely quickly. The question then arises: From what substance are they nourished?
Neither the financial market nor the industry can be blamed for measuring their success by these results, because those responsible are contractually bound to these success criteria. So the definition of profit and success seems to be a fundamental problem of wealth distribution?
Of course, there are now very good alternatives, such as the economy for the common good, to consider the social, ecological and cultural effectiveness of companies.
Increasingly alert consumers no longer want to support animal suffering, environmental pollution and other effects of their consumption, so that the consumption of organic food and fair products has developed very well in Germany. Even the largest discounters have geared their product ranges to these now very lucrative markets. But are organic, sustainability and fair trade already sufficient concepts to equip us as a society for the post-industrial era?
A short and intensive look at agriculture is enough to see that we are still very far from healthy self-sufficiency and local food in society. Worse still, many farmers can hardly afford their hard work and more than 30 percent of Germany’s farms will not be able to find successors. So how can it be that consumers want local, healthy and organic food, but farmers can hardly afford to produce it?
If you put on the glasses of value creation and take a close look at how values are actually created and what their foundations are, you will quickly realize that human society is still full throttle with the exploitation of natural resources and the consumption of land and living space , and this despite the fact that a declining population trend has already begun in the richer societies. Real estate is still considered a very stable investment and private savings have never been as high as they are today. Fear of a global financial crash is creeping around and the specter of climate change and the loss of biodiversity and healthy soils is looming on the horizon. Many industries have also been showing for a number of years that they cannot be expanded at will, but are falling apart again into smaller units that can be better adapted to the local markets. Nevertheless, the industry has been automating and digitizing very vigorously for years and it is an open secret that many professions in the manufacturing industry will finally disappear in the next few years. Where and how can the professions emerge that will enable people to secure their livelihoods in the future?
My suggestion is radical because it goes to the root of value creation – to where values have to be so that they can be created at all. I propose a regenerative economy that aims to restore the planet and people to the life force needed for healthy economic activity. This requires organizations that make these values visible and organize their development. In founding such organizations, I stumbled upon the separation of our financial system into non-profit and for-profit. While non-profit organizations have tax advantages, they shouldn’t make any profits – but that’s exactly what an organization has to offer in order to be able to compete with other investment opportunities.
The regenerative cooperative (ReGen) closes this gap, as it can also include and present values in its balance sheet that are still part of the living cycle of nature and community. ReGen can document the increase in value through various forms of presentation and does so in close coordination with its members. Since the funds of these members are within the cooperative in their member accounts, the increase (profit in the form of dividends) is still used within the cycle until the member uses it up or converts it into further shares. In this way, individual profits can be achieved and reported, but remain within the economic cycle of the cooperative if the member does not access them for personal use. What is also interesting about this constellation is that some members simply put their money into the cooperative and other members can use this money for projects and their work. Here, new professions can arise and old activities can be preserved by building values for permanent use. But what are values for permanent use?
If new values are presented in balance sheets, measured values are needed that contain a clear statement about the intrinsic value of an organization, its members and all material assets available to it. If you take arable soil for this, for example, then the nutrient percentages, humus layer and other parameters can be used to show whether the soil has gained or lost value. This is similar for buildings, here you can display thermal values, building biology values and equipment. The state of health and satisfaction as well as the cohesion of the members of such a cooperative can be recorded and documented. The increase in competencies and opportunities for action also represents an increase in value. Such a cooperative can also produce furniture or furnishings if it has a wood workshop and members with the right know-how. The fact that mainly domestic wood and local raw materials should be used is self-regulating if the cooperative wants to generate as much regional added value as possible, because this is easy for them to understand, present and understand in its consequences. In this way, substantial value creation, ethical handling of money and stable, local value-added cycles can be implemented with one type of company: the regenerative cooperative.
The regenerative cooperative incorporates all components of regeneration as asset accumulation and value growth
The regenerative cooperative incorporates all components of regeneration as asset accumulation and value growth within itself, but takes into account which members are involved in this value growth with which contributions. It shows individuals their personal success and at the same time leaves open the possibility of keeping these funds within the organization. The advantage of balance sheet values is also that they can be written off for tax purposes, creating hidden reserves that increase investment security and structural stability. The earth itself is the place for investing the savings, because good soil, trained craftsmen or holistic health care workers are living value stores of the community and form the basis for further value creation without skimming.
The conciliatory thing about this proposal is that it also works within the old system logic and thus relieves the pressure for change on core society. With this approach, there is no need for an economic crash to set foot on the path to a new, responsible economy, only places where it emerges from such community initiatives, places that network with each other and share their knowledge. Just a few of these places are sufficient to test the effect and function of the model, but its principles and the processes and procedures used can easily be transferred to many other places and fields of application. In this way, a decentralized change is possible without coming into conflict with the previous structures or triggering major devaluations of private assets.