Hazel Henderson, Founder & President Janine Benyus, Co-Founder & President
STATEMENT ON TRANSFORMING FINANCE BASED ON ETHICS AND LIFE’S PRINCIPLES* © 2012
We the signers hold this biological truth to be self-evident that the human species is interdependent with all other life forms on Planet Earth. Therefore, human societies, cultures, values and belief systems that are informed by and modeled on the following Life’s Principles, which are strategies universal to all organisms, should provide the basis for all production and exchange of goods, community structures and services. This includes the design of monetary systems, investments, banking, financing, bartering, reciprocal exchange, payments, crowdfunding, compensation and unpaid gifting, sharing, cooperatives, reproduction of future generations, provision of public goods, infrastructure, collective health, education and life- supporting services.
1. We affirm that these collective life-supporting activities, conventionally categorized as “economies” and “finance,” are in truth embedded in human societies and cultural values – in turn, embedded in planetary ecosystems and biodiversity of life which are irreducible to symbolic tokens such as money or mathematical abstractions such as compound interest or classification as “resources,” “property,” or even as “global commons.”
* This is the precursor document to our Principles for Ethical Biomimicry FinanceTM. Page 1 of 8
2. Money markets and finance are useful human inventions and as such are good servants of evolutionary higher-purposes, but can be bad masters. Trading and exchanging are basic strategies of humans and all living species. Financial and economic systems are not functional analogues of ecosystems. Money and other proxies have no analog in Nature which operates on direct exchange of materials, information and services.
3. Thus our approach to the human activities conventionally categorized under “finance,” “investment,” “savings,” banking and monetary systems is to reframe these under our scientific knowledge of our true condition expressed as Life’s Principles and what is now known about life’s evolution on Planet Earth. Accordingly, we recognize that human societies cannot measure their “progress” as growth of their GNP-measured, money- denominated economic sectors. Growth is not maximized by any species but rather the whole living system is optimized.
4. Therefore, when we assess technological and social innovations, we start our due diligence processes by examining the viability of such innovations and potential success of enterprises and projects by applying Life’s Principles. Only after applying this screen and its implicit design opportunities will we then design appropriate models of finance, organizational forms, stakeholders’ relationships, governance, risk-assessment, compensation and other valuations of ecological sustainability, social equity, health and contributions to peaceful human evolution.
5. We acknowledge that these goals and investing models can transform finance and embody social innovations that will be disruptive to incumbent industries, financial groups and major sectors of our Industrial Era societies which are now widely recognized as unsustainable.
6. Therefore, we avoid employing many of the conventional tools of financial analysis (e.g., Modern Portfolio Theory, Capital Asset Pricing Models, Black-Scholes Options Pricing, Value-at-Risk and other risk analysis; nor discounting to “present value”, etc.) nor those methods based on conventional economic assumptions: e.g., “efficient markets,” “market completion,” “rational actors,” “bounded rationality,” etc. Rather, we look to the new scientific knowledge of human behavior, endocrinology, brain sciences, genetics, anthropology and other insights into the human condition gained through expanding awareness and consciousness of our true human condition. We commit to learning continually, with the humility engendered by these new understandings, as well as the careful experimentation based on Nature’s 3.8 billion years of successful learning and innovation.
7. We further understand that what is termed as “economies” and “financial systems” are emergent properties: complex adaptive systems generated by actions emanating from collective human consciousness, cultures and belief-systems and that these forms and expressions are downloads from these “cultural DNA codes,” resulting in cultural artifacts and physical forms (such as skyscrapers and computers), as well as similar forms emanating from the world’s spiritual traditions (e.g., cathedrals and books). We acknowledge and affirm the evolution of the technological array of tools created by humans. These expressions of human creativity are a result of our focus on materialism, reductionist rationality and its Cartesian mentalities prevalent since the Industrial Revolution, and we rejoice that these are evolving toward Life’s Principles and are now reintegrating within our higher consciousness. We endeavor to use Life’s Principles to create conditions conducive to life in all human activities and systems.
8. These collective products of our levels of awareness, consciousness and knowledge evolve as individuals learn. Leaders emerge in human societies and become early adopters of new knowledge and scientific observation, as well as ethical principles, such as the “golden rule,” cooperative agreements on sharing Nature’s lessons, co- evolutionary models and altruistic examples.
9. Thus, we acknowledge that our commitment to transforming finance, its models and selection processes can lead to re-design of money, banking, finance, investments, patents, legal and governance systems. This will require reintegration of human knowledge, mentoring by Nature’s genius, and whole systems-thinking, operationalized through whole human beings integrating mind, heart, body and wisdom based on evolving higher levels of consciousness.
Therefore we approach our task and wider goals with deep humility and know we represent one species among 30 million, all essential for thriving and survival of all. We are a small human strand of ever-evolving human societies and their cultural DNA. We invite all others who resonate with this declaration of intent to transform finance to join in signing this statement and contributing to its evolution.
Janine Benyus, Author, Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature; Co-Founder, Biomimicry 3.8,
Missoula, MT, USA
Hazel Henderson, Author, Politics of the Solar Age, etc.; Founder, President, Editor-in-chief, Ethical
Markets Media, USA and Brazil
Chris Allen, CEO, Biomimicry 3.8
Madeleine Austin, Executive Director, EthicMark® Awards, Santa Barbara, CA
Dayna Baumeister, PhD, Co-Founder, Biomimicry 3.8
Andrew Bellak, CEO of StakeHolders Capital, Amherst, Massachusetts
Michael Ben-Eli, Founder and Director, The Sustainability Laboratory, New York
G. Benjamin Bingham, Founder and CEO, 3Sisters Sustainable Management, LLC, Philadelphia, PA Louis and Sandra Bohtlingk, Founders, CareFirstWorld Ltd; Louis is author of Dare To Care (2011),
Dr. Mariana Bozesan, President & Founder, AQAL Investing, Munich
Frank Bracho, former Ambassador of Venezuela to India; author, A New Way To Measure Development
and other books, Caracas, Venezuela
Ellen Hodgson Brown, JD, Author, Web of Debt and other books; Founder and President, Public Banking
Jamie Brown, Project Director, BASE (Basel Agency for Sustainable Energy); former Head of Secretariat,
UNEP Sustainable Energy Finance Alliance, Basel, Switzerland
Fritjof Capra, author The Tao of Physics, The Web of Life and The Hidden Connections, etc., Berkeley,
Christina Carvalho Pinto, President, Full Jazz Communications Group; President, Mercado Etico, Brazil Brendan Cassidy, student, University of Northern Arizona
Jacques Chirazi, Biomimicry CH and swisscleantech association, Zurich
Katherine Collins, Honeybee Capital, Boston
Lina Constantinovici, MBA, GrowVC US; Startup Nectar the Biomimicry Incubator, San Francisco Thais Corral, President, CEMINA/SINAL, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Leslie Danziger, Co-founder, former Chair, Solaria Corp and Lightpath Technologies, Austin, TX Susan Davis Moora, President, CapitalMissions.com; Author, The Trojan Horse of Love, Ecuador Guy Dauncey, Author, Futurist, Executive Director of BC Sustainable Energy Association, British
Dee Dickinson, retired CEO of New Horizons for Learning; ASHOKA Support Network; futurist
Peter Ellyard, PhD, Futurist and Strategist; Author, Designing 2050 and Destination 2050, Melbourne,
David Fox, Co-founder, Biomimicry 3.8 Institute, San Francisco
Edward Fullbrook, Editor, Real World Economics Review, University of the West of England
John Fullerton, President and Founder, Capital Institute, Greenwich, CT
Christian Haeuselmann, swisscleantech, San Diego
Marilyn Hamilton, PhD CGA CSP, Founder, Integral City Meshworks Inc.; author, producer, eLaboratory:
Co-Creating the Future of the Human Hive, Canada
Brent N. Hunter, Chairman, Spirit Rising Productions, Los Angeles, CA USA
Giles Hutchins, Author, The Nature of Business; Co-founder, BCI: Biomimicry for Creative Innovation, UK Garry Jacobs, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, World Academy of Art & Science
AJ Johnston, MDiv, Executive Director, Mindful Peacebuilding, USA
Alan F. Kay, PhD, Co-Founder, Ethical Markets Media; Founder, Autex (Thomson-Reuters), USA Georgia Kelly, Director, Praxis Peace Institute, San Francisco
Margrit Kennedy, PhD, Founder, MonNetA – Money Network Alliance, Germany
Ashok Khosla, Chairman of Development Alternatives, President IUCN and Club of Rome and Co-Chair
of the UN’s International Resource Panel, Delhi, India
John L. Knott, Jr., The Noisette Company, LLC, Charleston, South Carolina
Satish Kumar, Editor-in-Chief, Resurgence & Ecologist, Bideford, UK
Giuseppe La Manna, CEO, EcoLogix Startup Solutions, LLC, Venezuela
Leland Lehrman, Managing Partner, Fund Balance, New York, NY
Elsie Maio, Founder, Humanity, Inc./SoulBrandingSM Institute, New York, USA
Fernando Byington Egydio Martins, CEO, Propósito Branding, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Kozo Mayumi, Professor, Bioeconomics Faculty of Integrated Arts and Sciences, The University of
Terry Mollner, Chair, StakeHolders Capital, Inc.; Board Member, Calvert Social Funds and Ben & Jerry’s,
Oscar Motomura, President, Amana-Key Desinvolvimento & Educacao, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Timothy Jack Nash, President, Strategic Sustainable Investments, Toronto
Ann Pettifor, Director, Policy Research in Macroeeconomics (PRIME); Fellow, new economics foundation,
Jonathon Porritt, Founder Director, Forum for the Future, Cheltenham, UK
Gilles Raveaud, Assistant Professor of Economics, University Paris 8; Co-founder, Post-Autistic
Paul H. Ray, PhD, Co-author of The Cultural Creatives with Sherry Anderson, PhD, Washington, DC
Vicki Robin, Your Money or Your Life (1992, 2008), Blessing the Hands that Feed Us (2013)
Nancy Roof, PhD, Founder/Editor Kosmos Journal, Boston
Mary Carol Rose, Beyond Financial Paradigms, LLC, Baltimore, MD
Elisabet Sahtouris, PhD, Evolution Biologist, Futurist, Speaker, Consultant, Mallorca, Spain
Julie Sammons, MBA, Bay Area Biomimicry Network, San Francisco
Homero Luís Santos, Director, Fractalis – Consultancy on Sustainability; Co-author of “A Caveira de
Hamlet” (The Skull of Hamlet), 2012, Brazil
Allan Savory, Co-founder of the Savory Institute, Albuquerque, NM, and Zimbabwe
Dr. Vandana Shiva, Navdanya/Research Foundation for Science Technology & Ecology, Delhi, India
Rosalinda Sanquiche, Executive Director, Ethical Markets Media, USA
Simran Sethi, Journalist, Kelly Distinguished Scholar in Residence, St. Catherine University, St. Paul, MN
Jet Thurmann, Quantum Care Center, Copenhagen, Denmark
John Todd, Ph.D., President, Ocean Arks International, University of Vermont, Burlington
Stuart Valentine, CenterPoint Investment Management, Fairfield, Iowa
Terry Waghorn, CEO and Founder, Katerva, Rotterdam, Netherlands
Anders Wijkman, Vice-president, Club of Rome; Senior advisor, Stockholm Environment Institute,
Eva Willmann de Donlea, Sustainability Intelligence Pty Ltd and US LLC, Sydney
Ellie Winninghoff, Jjournalist, DoGoodCapitalist.com
We invite you to sign our statement agreeing that Life’s Principles guide finance and business.