Time is money. What we mean when we say that is there is value in having more time, more resources, more health and resilience, and delaying action when you have time to avoid terrible costs is unwise. The worsening risk of polycrisis—in which climate disruption, nature loss, biodiversity loss, water scarcity, food insecurity, and repeated unaffordable disasters compound and accelerate each other, and spur repeated waves of mass migration—means we must come to terms with the need for an operative everyday understanding of Resilience Value.
The coming resilience value economy means money cannot continue to work as it does now.
Money is an expression of the exchange of value between people and institutions.
- In ‘Sacred Economics’, Charles Eisenstein argues money should reflect the sacred ethical obligations we have toward one another, and allow us to manifest those connections through world-building collaborative work.
- In ‘Doughnut Economics’, Kate Raworth makes the case for a structural shift in our economic thinking, so value is determined by delivery of good results in a safe operating space between the floor of human need and the ceiling of planetary boundaries, with a circular model, where negative externalities are reduced to zero or near zero.
What both of these approaches to assessing value point to is the need to foster macrocritical resilience—the overall capacity of an economy to generate real-world value for people, in an inclusive and ongoing way, without degrading future potential for doing the same, with all natural systems working in our favor. The financial, economic, and industrial systems we have now do not meet this standard.
Incentives to drive specific uses of money tend to focus on volume rather than outcome. Funding flows are eased in the direction of expanded production, expanded activity, on the basis of a rudimentary supply-and-demand analysis:
- more stuff being available means it is easier to acquire some of that stuff;
- therefore prices will come down;
- that will ease economic difficulty, allowing more people to become ‘confident’ consumers.
In an economy where most economic activity is consumer spending, this is considered a healthy dynamic. The problem is: this rudimentary expression of supply-and-demand thinking fails to account for hidden costs that compound over time and create destabilizing disruptions, like climate change, nature loss, chronic food insecurity, and a worsening sovereign debt crisis.
We need money moving through our everyday economy to carry a clear signal that devalues pollution, extraction, and externalization, while valuing nature, resilience, and sustainable human health and wellbeing. We need incentives to steer money toward better outcomes (at rational and sustainable levels of sustainable production), rather than merely toward toward producing more stuff, without regard for outcomes.
How do we know Resilience Value is needed? We know, because in its absence we have generated these pervasive and proliferating costs, and are now living with multiple converging crises that compound each other’s effects. Resilience Value is the missing ingredient needed to make sure economic and financial decision-making, from the micro-level to the macro, consistently expands the overall pool of sustainable value.
The short and simple story:
We need to reward investments that lead to good outcomes for people and for nature.
The more people aim to profit from the destruction of wider pools of value, the greater our chances of experiencing permanent polycrisis and a future in which security and prosperity are simply not available to anyone. The more we reward those who seek to, work to, and effectively deliver everyday economic value with Resilience Value built in, the more likely we will be to see a future in which people, nations, and the world, are secure and thriving.
Resilience Value needs to be an integrative, multidimensional, and evolving indicator that tells us whether a given decision is more likely than others to create sustainable and inclusive value. The benefit would be that more of the money moving through our everyday economy would be positioned to play a foundational role, supporting expanded future value (sustainable prosperity, in harmony with nature).
Data flows helping to deliver this Resilience Value insight, should include:
- Mitigation of carbon emissions—at micro, mid, and macro levels;
- Reduction of Scope 3 / supply chain emissions;
- Overall mitigation of global emissions (OMGE);
- Alignment with science-based targets for 1.5ºC net-zero pathways;
- Micro-scale climate impact management and adaptation benefits;
- Wider (external) adaptation benefits;
- Building vs. depleting the health and resilience of natural systems, as a key performance indicator across sectors;
- Progress across the 17 Sustainable Development Goals;
- The inclusive expansion of economic opportunity and the building of human capital (including health and resilience) in low-income, marginal, and front-line communities;
- Strategic innovation value—the degree to which an investment helps to transition the wider economy away from dangerous climate disruption toward livable climate resilience.
New financial vehicles and small- and medium-sized enterprise models should emerge to deliver better outcomes across all of these parameters. Mainstream financial institutions—including commercial and investment banks, pension funds, and government agencies—could support rapid development and deployment of SMEs and new technologies and practices with high Resilience Value, with little-to-no new policy or business model innovation needed.
Central banks, finance ministers, trade ministers, development banks, even food-focused financial actors, are organizing themselves to shape, participate in, and capitalize on the coming breakthrough moment when Resilience Value—or a suite of tools that add up to an economy-wide trend—becomes the governing consensus. That moment must come, if what we broadly define as “the economy”—the overall pool of value created and exchanged between people and societies—will in the future function without constant and compounding crises.
In 2023 and 2024, the work of shifting destructive investment toward Resilience Value-generating activities should be a mission imperative for everyone hoping to be part of an economy that works.
For regular updates and briefing materials on the emergence of the Resilience Value economy, visit Resilienceintel.org