21 November 2010

The New Economics of Value

Posted by Admin under: Accounting; Economy; Events; Evolution; Forum; Future; Global; History; Inspiration; Leadership; Organization; People; Permaculture; Policy; Resiliency; Science; Story; Sustainability .

Clearly what we started discussing at our meeting on Saturday is a new economics of value, which in our view needs to be an economics of sustainable value. The case for this is almost embarrassingly self-evident: if we are counting the wrong things as measures of our success, we will be led to maximize the wrong things and thereby continually weaken the foundation of our true prosperity, which is the natural and human capital which we need to invest wisely and with the help of our financial capital, in the future of the planet.

This is not simply a matter of altruism — although altruism itself is something we are starting to understand is part of our social capital — but is truly a matter of “self-interest,” both individually and understood in the larger sense of our selfhood as a species and part of the biosphere on this planet. As Patagonia’s Yves Chouinard declared, “There is no business on a dead planet.” While it is unlikely that we could actually destroy life entirely on this planet, we could certainly do grave damage to it in a number of ways, and almost none of these are good for people or for business.

Even the mere fact of having to include the costs of climate and environmental mitigation in the risk assessments for business, the military, coastal cities, etc. indicates the seriousness of the problem as we already face it today. This is not some far-distant danger: the rapid decline in Arctic ice, the accelerating acidification of the oceans, the cumulative impacts of non-organic agriculture, the increasing number of disastrous weather events, are imposing costs now, and these costs are mounting daily as a result of accelerating conventional economic activity in the developing world and failing to transition to a more sustainable society in the already over-developed nations.

Our next step, therefore, must be to re-examine what we mean by “making progress” in the area of economic wellbeing, on both a local and a societal level, and provide a path to a “new normal” that is ecologically sustainable, economically prosperous, and socially engaging.

In his presentation, Peter Burgess essentially argues that a “True Value Metric” has to taken into account both money and value, where “value” is defined on an aggregate basis in neighborhoods and communities as the benefits accruing to the society as a whole from economic activity vs. the detriments it causes. A number of different components can then be translated into financial equivalents. A good proxy might be “long term profit,” but we don’t use this in our calculations.

This leads us to next month’s topic, Reinventing Wealth, a discussion we plan to combine with our annual holiday potluck at our home in Basking Ridge on December 18, from 1 p.m. onward — please save the date and RSVP to [email protected]. For more details, download the invitation here: 2010HolidayPotluck (PDF). Thanks.

One Comment so far...

The Sustainable Leadership Forum » Reinventing Wealth Says:

24 November 2010 at 9:06 am.

[…] addressed the issue, however imperfectly, of choosing what to measure and how to measure it, the next step seems to be creating a new economy alongside the old, that can eventually encompass, […]

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Past Events

Correction: We'll be hosting this year's holiday potluck — "Bringing Solar Power Home for the Holidays" — on Saturday, December 15, 2012 from 4 to 9 p.m. Click here for more details. RSVP to [email protected].
Saturday, November 17, 2012, 10 a.m. Eastern: Sustainable Neighborhood & Community Conversations (III).
Saturday, October 13, 2012, 10 a.m. Eastern: Transforming Neighborhoods and Communities II.
Saturday, September 8, 2012, 10 a.m. Eastern: Transforming Neighborhoods & Communities.
Saturday, June 16, 2012: SLF Potluck June 16: Sustainable Living Communities.
The Sustainable Haiti Conference took place April 23-25, 2012 in Miami.
"Inside Job" Movie Party. Saturday, February 11th, 6:00 PM, Liberty Ridge, The Hills, Bernards Twp, Basking Ridge, NJ 07920.
2nd 'Buy Haitian, Restore Haiti Conference', January 26, 2012, Karibe Convention Center, Petion Ville, Haiti
Dec 11 SLF Potluck: "Bringing Sustainability Home for the Holidays" Basking Ridge, NJ. RSVP to [email protected].
Saturday, July 9, 2011, 4 p.m. Open House Party & Potluck, Saturday, July 9, 4 p.m., Basking Ridge, NJ.
RSVP to [email protected]
Saturday, May 21, 1-4 p.m. EcoCenter Update. At the Morristown EcoCenter, 55 Bank Street, Morristown, NJ 07960.
Saturday, April 16, 1-4 p.m. "Haiti & Us: The Leading Edge of Sustainable Development." At the Morristown EcoCenter, 55 Bank Street, Morristown, NJ 07960. A copy of the update presentation has been posted here.
Saturday, March 19, 1-4 p.m. "Creating the Morristown EcoCenter." Held at 55 Bank Street, Morristown, the site of the proposed EcoCenter.
Saturday, February 19, 1-4 p.m. Monthly meeting, ""A Profound Transformation in Consciousness," Morris County Library, Whippany, NJ. Click here for details.
Saturday, January 15, 1-4 p.m. Putting Idealism into Practice: Tour of Half Moon House. Click here for details.
Saturday, December 18, 1-4 p.m. Challenge & Strategy Session: "Reinventing Wealth," followed by our annual "Potluck for the Planet" from 4 to 8. Click here for details.
Saturday, November 20, 1-4 p.m. Challenge & Strategy Session: "How Do We Measure Sustainable Value?". Click here for details.
Saturday, October 16, 1-4 p.m. Challenge and Strategy Session: "Toward a Sustainable Growth Strategy for New Jersey".
Download the slide presentation here, and the discussion paper here.

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