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  • Jeroo Billimoria

People and Planet: The Concept


People and Planet

Thanks for all your comments and encouragement for my first blog.

In this blog, I explained the concept of the People and Planet Economy (PPE), why we need an inclusive economic model, and what constitutes the people and planet economy.


Context

We, as social innovators, think of solutions. We want to positively impact the communities we serve and address the core challenges related to our people and our planet. The world is undergoing a period of significant turmoil for people and the planet, including political instabilities, humanitarian crises, and climate-related catastrophes. Yet, these frontline pioneers are crucial to shifting old extractive and exploitative growth models to one that prioritises the People and Planet Economy (PPE), focusing on the much-needed perspectives of the community on how market and societal reimagining can be done differently.


The PPE-centred work of social innovators represents a new way of thinking about the economy, the actors within it, and its relationship with society and the environment, emphasising the need for more collaborative, equitable, integrated, and innovative approaches to addressing complex challenges and creating a more sustainable and prosperous future for all. 


Founded in 2020, Catalyst 2030 birthed the concept of the People and Planet Economy (PPE) to place social innovators' co-creation and collaborative approach at the heart of systems-level change. Incubated by individuals and pioneering supporters of social entrepreneurs like Ashoka, the Schwab Foundation, Echoing Green, and the Skoll Foundation, Catalyst 2030 has worked to accelerate the growth of this values-based economy, which reimagines its relationship with society and the environment and recognises the need for integrated collaborative solutions with stakeholders across all levels of influence. This concept note details the People and Planet Economy (PPE), its core elements, its relationship with the social innovation sector and the community, examples of current PPE-related initiatives, and context on current challenges associated with PPE growth. 


WHAT IS THE PEOPLE AND PLANET ECONOMY (PPE)?

The PPE is a values- and principles-based economy powered by social innovators to co-create collaborative solutions that protect people and the planet. The PPE’s key objective is to ensure holistic well-being, happiness, and quality of life for people within a thriving planet free of exploitation. To achieve this, the PPE places values at the core of economic progress rather than productivity and profit. It represents a new way of thinking about the economy, the actors within it, and its relationship with society and the environment, emphasising the need for more collaborative, integrated, and innovative approaches to addressing complex challenges and creating a more sustainable and prosperous future for all. This is done by responding to the evolving needs of communities, especially those previously subject to neglect or inequity.


The PPE is a concept that encapsulates two core elements. These are 1) A values- and principles-driven approach, and 2) A conceptual framework built upon existing economic concepts tied to people and the planet. The following sections discuss each of the PPE elements in more detail. 


#1: A values- and principles-driven approach

The PPE places significant emphasis on being guided by a set of key values and principles. These include: 

  • Linkages to Traditional Practices on Connectedness

  • A Systems-Focused Approach to Change

  • Solutions-oriented, Community-Centred, Co-Creation and Collaboration Led by Social Innovators

  • Continued Evolution

The following sections discuss each of these values/principles in more detail. 


Linkages to Traditional Concepts of Connectedness 


The foundation of the PPE recognises the importance of traditional practices, knowledge, and concepts tied to connectedness. As the world increasingly shifted towards exploitative and extractive models, the spiritual and conventional ideas that place connectedness with community members and the surrounding environment at the heart of well-being and quality of life have been lost. The PPE puts this objective at the forefront to emphasise ancient wisdom featuring societal models united by a collective idea of community – the “we” rather than the “me” that drives individualistic, consumption-based approaches to economic development and prosperity. 


While these concepts are not new, the shift towards connectedness represents a radical yet critical departure from exploitative values. Many of these sources of global inspiration embody values associated with stewardship, respect, bravery, honesty, humility, truth, wisdom, and love and emphasise a much more holistic view that brings together people, nature, and economic and value-creation systems. They often get overlooked or, much worse, are appropriated by various “isms”, as discussed in my previous blog. The PPE progresses towards a new “mental model and paradigm about the way the world works.” This informed and grounded reimagining seeks to create a more sustainable, equitable, and resilient economic system that can better address the complex challenges facing societies today by putting this thinking into the heart of the design.


The following represents a subset of examples related to traditional narratives on connectedness that the PPE draws from: 


  • Ubuntu: This Ngugi Bantu term translates to mean “I am because we are” or “humanity towards others”. 

  • Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam: This Sanskrit phrase comes from Hindu texts and means “The World Is One Family”.

  • Trusteeship: As a socio-economic philosophy developed by Gandhi, trusteeship describes a person’s decision to voluntarily give up their money, dedicating it to the welfare of the poor section of society.

  • Empowerment: Beyond its widespread and generalised use, empowerment is defined by philosopher and educator Paulo Freire as enabling individuals to critically examine and challenge oppressive social structures through dialogue and education.

  • Whanaungatanga: This Maori phrase encompasses the idea of interconnectedness and the importance of relationships, kinship, and community.

  • First Peoples Principles of Learning: As articulated by indigenous elders, scholars, and knowledge keepers, learning is holistic, generational, and recognises the role of indigenous knowledge. It involves recognising the consequences of one’s actions and exploring one’s identity which is embedded in memory, history, and story. It requires patience, time, and a focus on reciprocal relationships, and specific sacred knowledge is only shared with permission and in certain situations.

  • Takaful/Reahya is an Arabic word from the Islamic Arab civilisation that means supporting each other and stewardship caring for the surrounding people and planet.



A Systems-Focused Approach


By inherently challenging the status quo of individualistic principles, the PPE is driven by models of collaborative systems change and systems work. Systems work involves examining the relationships and interactions between various parts of a system, such as institutions, policies, cultures, and practices, and identifying opportunities for change. 


In the context of PPE, a systems mindset acknowledges the complex and interconnected nature of economic systems and the role of diverse stakeholders, including businesses, governments, communities, and individuals. It emphasises a holistic and collaborative approach to decision-making, recognising that the success of the economy depends on the success of its components. It also involves balancing short-term gains with long-term sustainability and considering the impacts of innovation on marginalised communities and the natural environment. Therefore, a systems approach promotes equitable economic development and innovation that is sustainable and beneficial for all stakeholders. Intrinsic to this thinking is that benefits to one section of society should not be at the cost of another, and therefore, an intimate examination of direct, indirect, and unintended impacts is integrated into the system.


Solutions-oriented Community-Centred Co-Creation and Collaboration Led by Social Innovators


PPE uses dialogue as a foundation to unite diverse stakeholders and collectively address complex social and environmental challenges. Individuals and organisations are encouraged to collaborate towards shared goals. Through dialogue, stakeholders can build relationships, share knowledge and experiences, and develop a shared understanding of the challenge. Together, they can co-create and test outside-the-box solutions while identifying and addressing systemic barriers to ensure their sustainability and scalability.


In all stages, trust is critical to ensuring sustainable solutions are achieved. Radical collaboration can lead to systems-changing sustainable solutions in several ways – through shared ownership, inclusive participation, and cross-sectoral engagement. Together – listening to each other, learning, and hearing – we can find solutions to complex problems often considered unsolvable.


Continued Evolution


The PPE recognises that society, culture, and the environment are ever-changing, and what may be relevant to one culture or at a moment in time may not be relevant at another point. New problems arise and existing problems change, requiring new and innovative solutions. As society and technology advance, new opportunities emerge for creative solutions to address social and environmental issues.


Therefore, PPE is also characterised by its openness to experimentation, learning, and evolution. Social innovators constantly seek new approaches, test and refine them, and share their findings with others. This process of experimentation and learning leads to constant evolution and improvement in how we address social challenges.


#2: A conceptual framework built upon existing economic concepts tied to people and the planet

The PPE is the culmination of many decades of work on existing economic concepts prioritising people and the planet. The PPE draws together existing economic models and frameworks that emphasise sustainability, regeneration, equity, and collaboration. However, many of these existing economic concepts have often siloed the emphasis on either people or the planet. The PPE recognises the interconnected and interdependent facets that connect society and environmental systems.


As such, this is an important moment to bring critical thinking already conducted within these two spheres and channel it forward into a collective vision. The PPE, therefore, serves as an umbrella concept for these economic concepts, bringing them together into a wider economic concept combining both the people and the planet. This dynamic is visualised in the diagram below. 

People and Planet Economy

The PPE, therefore, builds on the following economic concepts. This list should not be viewed as a complete and exhaustive list but rather as a list of key examples from which the PPE builds:


  • Social and solidarity economy: emphasises the importance of social and environmental objectives alongside economic ones. It involves creating new forms of enterprise, such as cooperatives, social enterprises, and community-based organisations that prioritise the needs of people and communities over profit. 

  • Circular economy: emphasises the importance of regenerative and restorative systems that aim to keep products, components, and materials at their highest utility and value at all times, thereby reducing waste production and mitigating environmental degradation. 

  • Sharing economy: emphasises sharing resources, assets, and services among individuals and organisations. It involves creating new business models that enable more collaborative and efficient use of resources and promoting social and environmental benefits.

  • Regenerative economy: focuses on regenerating and restoring natural systems, such as ecosystems and biodiversity. It involves designing products and systems that mimic natural systems and prioritising environmental sustainability to move away from extractive economics models.

  • Doughnut economics: emphasises operating within the limits of the planet’s resources and ensuring that everyone has access to basic needs and opportunities for wellbeing. This requires transforming the current economic system, shifting away from GDP growth as the primary measure of economic success, and focusing on achieving social and ecological goals.

  • Green economy: promotes sustainable development by reducing environmental impact and promoting social and economic wellbeing through resource efficiency, reducing waste and pollution, and investing in renewable energy and other sustainable technologies. The green economy also aims to create new economic opportunities and jobs in sectors such as renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, and ecotourism. 

  • Wellbeing economy: prioritises human and ecological well-being, rather than just economic growth. This new economic system requires a different set of principles, a new governance structure, and a set of indicators to measure progress.

  • Stakeholder capitalism: considers the interests of all stakeholders, including employees, customers, communities, and the environment, not just shareholders. This system acknowledges that businesses are responsible for serving society and the environment, not just generating profits for shareholders. By prioritising stakeholder interests, businesses can help create a more sustainable and inclusive economic system. 

  • Purpose economy: defines the underlying thread to emerging trends of corporate success, in which businesses succeed when they prioritise a purpose-based framework. This emphasises the viability of social enterprises as their strength of purpose is inherent.


In our current times, we need to think differently, work collaboratively, and come up with creative solutions that can benefit everyone.


So, once again, please do share your ideas on how to shape an economy that benefits all and strives towards a thriving planet.


And stay tuned for my next blog… on who is a social innovator and how the social innovation sector could shift the needle.


All comments are welcome!








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