Reimagining the Future: The Biomimetic Economy


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Growing global population and a rising middle-class is putting a strain on the environment and depleting the world’s stock of biophysical resources. The dominant economic system behaves as a linear system and based on the rapid use, disposal, and replacement of goods. The global capitalist economic system is poorly prepared to deal with unexpected events such as climate change and its impacts. To deal with global impending and complex issues, we propose a renewed model of an economic system that closely integrates Biomimicry principles.

Biomimicry is the study of how nature’s systems and processes function to solve the problems of survival. Nature’s dynamics are then applied human innovation. The environmental technologies and societal innovations we need are often already present the core of nature’s design since nature has, through evolution, already found the most energy-efficient solution for many problems. Biomimicry therefore promises to be a cogent design tool for the near future.

This presentation, "Reimagining the Future: The Biomimetic Economy", is an exploration of the nature of economic systems in relation to ecological systems – resilience, optimization, adaptability, systems based, value based and life supporting – through the design principals of biomimicry. Through our research, we created a learning tool that allows users interested in developing healthy economies and sustainable business practices to follow and learn from the principles of diversification; import shifting, succession; the three-horizon framework, biodiversity; multiple feedback loops and symbiosis; the sharing economy. In addition, we describe the creation of a new framework, titled the shared futures infinity loop (SFI Loop), which posits to replace the panarchy as the model for sustainable economic progression to create a more sustainable world.

The gigamap project which the presentation is based on was a collaborative project developed by Nihal Ahmed, Ksenia Benifand and Ryan Church at OCAD University, Strategic Foresight & Innovation MDes, Social Systems Design.

Published in: Design

Reimagining the Future: The Biomimetic Economy

  1. 1. Reimagining the Future The Biomimetic Economy Ryan Church I Ksenia Benifand I Nihal Ahmed OCAD University MDes, Strategic Foresight & Innovation
  2. 2. What is Biomimicry? A science that studies nature's models and then uses these designs and processes to solve human problems. 2
  3. 3. Why Biomimicry? Nature has been dealing with dynamic change for more than 3.8 billion years. 3
  4. 4. Research Purpose Explore how Biomimicry design principals can be applied to our economic system. 4
  5. 5. The Challenge Businesses today are poorly prepared to deal with unexpected adverse social, environmental, and economic impacts. 5
  6. 6. 6
  7. 7. Design Principles Resilience Optimizing 7 Adaptive Systems Based Value Based Life Supporting Source: Biomimicry for Creative Innovation (BCI)
  8. 8. Three Horizons Time Prevalence H3 H2 H1 Source: Anthony Hodgson 8
  9. 9. Type I System 10 H1
  10. 10. Type II System 11 H2
  11. 11. Type III System 12 H3
  12. 12. Kalundborg Ecopark 13 First full realization of industrial symbiosis. Companies collaborate to virtually eliminate waste, and use the by-products and waste as net new input.
  13. 13. 14
  14. 14. Circular Economy New way of thinking about material flows, production and patterns of consumption. 15
  15. 15. 16 Underutilized Assets
  16. 16. 17
  17. 17. Diverse Economies In nature, successful ecosystems expand through diversity. Diverse economies also expand in a rich environment, created by diverse use and reuse of goods and services. 18 Adapted from Jacobs, J., 2000
  18. 18. Import Stretching New value is added to an existing good or “import” and is turned into a new product for export. 19 Adapted from Jacobs, J., 2000
  19. 19. Case Study Rent your jeans for a year, after that you have 3 options: 1) keep it, 2) switch it, 3) send back. 20
  20. 20. Import Replacement Developing capacity to make things locally that used to be imported from afar. 21 Adapted from Jacobs, J., 2000
  21. 21. Case Study Icelandic company using fish scales for fashion forward shoes and clothing. 22
  22. 22. Three Horizons Time Prevalence H3 H2 H1 Source: Anthony Hodgson 23 Circular Economy
  23. 23. Next Steps •Rethinking product design and production •Fostering collaborative relationships across value chains •Socializing new modes of consumption 24 Adapted from Jacobs, J., 2000
  24. 24. "Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.“ - Albert Einstein 25
  25. 25. Thank You! Ryan Church - @BiomeDesign Ksenia Benifand - @KBenifand Nihal Ahmed - @iNihalAhmed 26