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1 - The Blue Economy

1 - The Blue Economy

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Published by: P2P Foundation on Sep 11, 2013
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The Blue Economy
 
An Economy Inspired by Nature
Business models for the 21
st 
century
The Red Economy
 
In the ordinary
 
market 
 
economy
 
entrepreneurs
 
and
 
industries focus
 
on
 
one
 
“core business”This means that it is one niche product that absorbs all the attention. The logic of a uniquecore competence requires low production costs, monocultures to scale up, out-sourcing andeliminating labour to produce more of the same. All progress is measured in cash-flow and
 
companies
 
depend
 
on
 
banks in order to
 
invest in production. The core business mentality isa high risk game and that risk is only reduced by working in a globalized
 
economy.
 
This isthe “Red Economy”- it takes
 
from
 
nature, it takes from humanity and the commons. It becomes more evident by the day that the dominant economy is morally and financiallybroken and has no future what 
 
so
 
ever.
 
In the dominant system if you
 
have
 
social
 
or
 
environmental
 
concerns
 
your
 
business can’t survive, your communities are eradicated andmassive unemployment and poverty are guaranteed. The original idea was the optimalallocation of resources but we messed up completely.
 
Maybe we are able to consume thingsat comparatively low prices but effectively most things that we can opt for in a supermarket are low in quality as well – its all junk.
The Green Economy
 
Over the last decade many new ideas emerged for green technologies, renewable energiesand alternative production methods and materials. Unfortunately in most cases the focushas only been on a single advantage and the effects on whole systems were ignored. Forexample using palm oil for the production of biodegradable soaps in Europe led to thedestruction of primary rainforests in Indonesia. Similarly a growing consumption of shiitake mushrooms, as a delicious and vegetarian substitute for animal protein, hasincreased the logging of Chinese oak trees to grow them on.
The Green Economy
is a step in the right direction but is it also a practicable alternative tothe dominant business model? Finally solving a problem in one place while creatingproblems elsewhere is no option if we aim at harmonizing our relationship with the planet.
 
The Green Economy also requires bigger
 
investments from companies in order
 
to achieve alittle bit more in efficiency or a little bit less of pollution. It is also more costly for consumersto buy green and it only works for the rich. In this commercialized world we came to accept that everything which is good and healthy for you is the much more expensive. But does it really have to be that way for a sustainable economy to function? Paying more was alreadychallenging during times of economic growth. It is a solution that has little chance in a timeof economic downturn like we live in today. Green products often depend on subsidies andagain this means that the Green Economy is no good candidate for the future economy. 
Gunter Pauli
 
was one of the icons of the green economy until on a trip Indonesia he foundout what the production of his bio-soaps caused to the forests of Indonesia. After thistraumatic experience he decided to stop his business and started working on a whole rangeof innovative projects
.
 
For
12 years
 
Pauli immersed into intensive studies and research
 
always on
 
the quest to
 
develop new models of production
 
that are
 
inspired by nature. The
 
outcome of his
 
reflections
 
during that period
 
is astonishing. It is a visionary approach
fornew
 
business models that contribute to the rehabilitation of society and the environment.Gunter calls it The Blue Economy and his main inspiration was the scientist and systemsthinker Fritjof Capra - who is a founding member of 
The
 
Center for Ecoliteracy.
He was alsoinspired by the blue colour of our planet, the water and the sky. Gunter summarized his 12years of research in a report for the Club of Rome called
“The Blue Economy – 10 Years,100 Innovations, 100 million jobs”
. When Gunter closed his eyes he could easily see how100 million new jobs were created without a problem. The problem was that nobody elsecould see it, so for him there was only one response and that was to make it happen.
 Nowthere are a hundred model that target on all of the millennium development goals.
 
The Blue Economy
 
It all began as a project to find one hundred of the best nature-inspired technologies that could affect the economies
 
of the
 
world
 
and sustainably providing for all basic human
 
needs.The Blue Economy tackles issues that cause environmental problems in new ways byconnecting environmental problems with
open-source scientific solutions
.Nature can easily be decompose all materials and transform them at low temperatures andlow pressure. Water is the all-round solvent and carbon materials can be reused in a neverending series of life cycles. That is just one example why instead of using much chemistrymost of the technologies and methods in the Blue Economy are based on
physical processes
 that 
are spread widely throughout the natural world. As indicated by all natural systemsPauli’s models cover a number very different processes and smoothly weave them togetherin production systems that can restore the environment, provide many jobs, enhance skillsand produce high quality and cheap products. The Blue Economy creatively works withwhat is available and aims at catalyzing a shift 
from scarcity to abundance. 
The Blue Economy approach:
 Through the ZERI Foundation a worldwide alliance of scientists, inventors and creative
 
minds
 
work towards
 
the
 
common
 
goal
 
of indentifying
 
technical solutions
 
that 
 
become theopen source basis of the Blue Economy.
ZERI
 
(
Zero Emissions Research and Initiatives)
wasestablished with its sole objective to implement pioneering cases that could demonstrate ascientifically feasible and economically viable model of production and consumption
.
 
ZERI’s
 
design
 
principles
 
are
 
modelled
 
after
 
the
 
natural
 
world
 
and
 
get 
 
many
 
insights
 
from therelationships that exist between “the 5 kingdoms of life” (bacteria, algae, plants, animalsand fungi). New solutions are showcased to young and open minded entrepreneurs to equipthem with business models that are creating multiple cash flows and that accelerate ourtransition from a product-based economy to
a system-based economy.
Cascading Nutrients and Energy
The central idea of The Blue Economy is the concept of cascading nutrients and energy.A cascade is a waterfall. It requires no power because it flows with the force of gravity.It transports nutrients between the 5 biological kingdoms where all absorbed minerals feedthe microorganisms, which further feed the plants which the animals eat. The “waste” of one living being becomes nourishment for another.Nature prefers to work with the unchangeable laws of physics. And nature has good reasonsto do so because it has the advantage that no external energy inputs are required. Cascadingnutrients and energy lead to sustainability because they reduce or eliminate the need for
 
energy and also eliminate waste and its cost. Not just the cost that is created by pollutionbut the costs that arise from the inefficient use of all resources. 
These same principles are becoming new standards in the Blue Economy. And they will not be easy 
 
to
 
 beat.
 
 Well
 
designed
 
systems are
 
so
 
efficient that they 
 
can
 
even
 
out-compete Chineseproduction methods - with the only difference that people and environment are benefitting.
In nature nothing is done for one reason only
 
 Waste is regarded a precious re
source and with creative thinking it can be used to createmultiple enterprises from singular ones. The Blue Economy aims at creating decentralizedclusters of various industries that today are unrelated and work separately.Production will be redesigned with respect to the flow of cascading nutrients to createmultiple cash flows and millions of jobs. All kind of technical innovations in energygeneration, construction, food production and processing are aiming at no less than
zero pollution
while trying to benefit the commons such as air, water and soil fertility aswell.
 
The Blue Economy shows us that by aligning production schemes with naturalmaterial flows many problems of social and environmental degradation can be overcome.
The elimination of waste represents the ultimate solution to problems with pollution.And for governments the full use of raw materials creates new industries, moreemployment and income while raising productivity.
An international community of companies, innovators and scientists support the concept,and provide open source access to develop, implement and share prosperous businessmodels that aim at regenerating ecosystems and improving quality of life. Ideally the best and most healthy products should be the cheapest and further envisioned is an economythat can provide all of our basic human needs for free. An economy of abundance.In order to get there Zeri begins with educating the next generation
 
of ecological
 
entrepreneurs, scientists and
 
citizens starting from early in their childhood. ZERI membersare
now
laying the foundation
 
for introducing children
 
all around the world to nature’sgenius and its capability to innovate, finding solutions
 
and
 
adapting
 
to
 
always
 
changing
 
and
 
evolving environments.
 
Members explore
 
the deep
 
science
 
in the workings
 
of nature to teachthem especially through children
 
stories and fables that make them reflect being curious.
Business models for the 21
st 
century
 
To achieve true economic sustainability processes need to be linked into whole systems
A showcase example of the Blue Economy is a model where “waste” biomass from coffee
 
(also
 
tea
 
and
 
beer)
 
is
 
used
 
as
the
growing
 
medium
 
for
 
nutrient 
 
rich
 
shiitake
 
mushrooms.The spent substrate that remains after the mushrooms are harvested is used as a protein-rich feed for the livestock .The animals manure, inoculated with bacteria, generates biogasin a digester. The slurry that is released from the digester becomes the nutrient source foralgae farming; and the residual water accelerates the growth of plankton which the fish canfeed on. That is a good example of cascading nutrient cycles and multiple cash flows.After making a cup of coffee this resource is usually regarded as useless and thrown away.Today’s consumption pattern of coffee only makes use of a shameful 0.2% of the value of coffee that could be exploited. This is a potential 500% increase. In the Blue Economy coffeecan prove us its real power by growing shiitake 3 times faster than on oak, at a 10
th
of theproduction cost and with the potential to lift 50 million coffee farmers out of poverty.
A coffee bean makes up only 5% of the coffee “cherry”. The rest is pulp and ‘grounds’and millions of tons of it get wasted. That is why the “Pulp to Protein Project” became

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