As we restructure our human economies to support these conditions, they will increasingly mimic and integrate with the biosphereâ€™s natural structures and processes.
Like the biosphere, the living economies we seek will self-organize within a framework of market rules. Rooted locally everywhere and dependent primarily on their own resource base, they will have built in incentives to optimize creative adaptation to local microenvironments. With the decision-making powers of ownership distributed among the communityâ€™s members in their multiple roles as producers, consumers, and citizens there will be a natural incentive to internalize costs and manage resources responsibly.
The culture of a living economy recognizes the mutual responsibility of individuals to meet their own needs in ways that contribute to the well-being of the whole and thereby optimize their own well-being. Business enterprises are expected to do the same. Making a profit is recognized as essential to the health of the enterprise, but is not its sole or primary purpose.
These outcomes are wholly beyond the reach of an economic system in which the locus of power resides in global financial institutions that recognize only financial values and seek only individual financial gain.
They depend on complex processes of self-organizing adaptation that are possible only within place-based caring communities built around institutions that nurture and reward adult responsibility and link decisions to consequences. It is fundamentally a question of life-values and shared power, both of which are long standing human ideals that we now have both the imperative and means to put into practice.