January 30, 2013


This post explores the dynamic properties of organisms and ecosystems that make them so resilient and capable of adapting to changing circumstances, allowing them to maintain an overall condition of coherence, wholeness and health while living in balance within the resources of the planet. Key principles of resilient ecological systems are explored including: self-regulation; positive and negative feedback; diversity; scale and context; cooperation; emergence and novelty; and ecological tipping points. In contrast, market based economic systems can produce unstable growth with unintended destruction of cultural and species diversity and homogenization of global life-styles. The paper re-examines fundamental economic principles using insights from biological evolution and ecosystem dynamics to establish a foundation for resilient economies.

This involves experimenting with different models in different communities to find patterns of sustainable production and exchange appropriate to local regions. Fundamental steps in this direction include the emergence of self-organizing local communities based on creative experimentation, re-localization of currencies and banking practices that support local enterprise and investment in green technologies, stimulation of decentralized renewable energy networks and economic reform aligned with ecological principles.

The Transition Network provides a case study of an international community based movement that has been experimenting with putting some of these principles into practices at the local level. The aim of the Transition Network is to support community led responses to peak oil and climate change, building resilience and well-being. The concept of ecological resilience and its application to local economy is hard wired into the values and emerging structure of the network of transition communities across the globe. The movement started in the UK in 2005 and there are now over 1000 Transition initiatives spanning 34 countries across the world. Many attribute the success and phenomenal growth of the Transition Network to its emerging holographic structure that mimics cell growth within living organisms.

Growing a more resilient food system in the face of the twin challenges of natural resources scarcity and climate change is central to the Transition movement. A set of principles for a post carbon resilient food economy in the UK are offered. These include an 80% cut in carbon emission in the food sector by 2050, agricultural diversification, prioritization of farming methods that establish and enhance carbon sinks, phasing out of dependence on fossil fuels in food growing, processing and distribution, promoting access to nutritious and affordable food, as well as promoting greater access to land for growing food in urban and peri-urban areas. Practical example of Transition related projects in the food sector are presented across the following themes: access t land, low carbon production methods, food distribution systems, health and community gardens and orchards, and collaborative ownership models.

(Reference: This article written by Julie Rechardson)

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