2016/07/25 08:55 Gunter Pauli, “The Blue Economy: How innovations in technologies and business models set new rules for sustainability”, ISSS 2016 Boulder

Plenary @ISSSMeeting @MyBlueEconomy, Keynote #isss2016USA, 60th Annual Meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences and 1st Policy Congress of ISSS, Boulder, Colorado, USA

Day 1 theme:  Systems Thinking for Systemic Sustainability

Plenary I – The Challenge of System(s) Sustainability

  • Description: This year’s conference focuses on what it means for a system to be sustainable (“systemic sustainability”): exploring more holistic science and thinking to understand, manage, and create sustainability in complex socio-ecological systems. We are intentionally stepping outside traditional comfort zones to explore new territory and possibly find new answers. For this we recognize the importance of empowering students; removing philosophical and institutional blocks to their inquiry into such questions, and providing them with the best tools to guide their research and practical experiences. From development of new theories and practices to integration of existing ones, our challenge is to determine what will lead society into the transformations needed for a sustainable future and beyond to even greater symbiotic and innovative opportunities; and how we as a society can help initiate those changes.

Session chair:  John Kineman

This digest was created in real-time during the meeting, based on the speaker’s presentation(s) and comments from the audience. The content should not be viewed as an official transcript of the meeting, but only as an interpretation by a single individual. Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected. Questions about content should be directed to the originator. The digest has been made available for purposes of scholarship, posted by David Ing.

Gunter Pauli published the book The Blue Economy. in 2010, and has continued to develop organizations with new business models.

Introduction of Gunter Pauli by John Kineman

Gunter Pauli (left), Monday plenary

[Gunter Pauli]

41 years ago, was an exchange student looking to come to Boulder, stayed with Frank

Created new factory

  • Gave Patagonia shorts, could turn temperature down 6 degrees

In Indonesia, biodegradable palm oil factory?

Invited as a guru to a conference

  • Can I do less bad, or not do it any more
  • Ethics is at the core of system

Do I considered that I failed?  (Jean Paul Sartre)

I never failed, I only found 10,000 solutions that never worked.  (Benjamin Franklin)

  • In Buddhist, can always to better
  • Christians are always good or bad

What would a business model look like with no emissions

  • Funding by the Japanese government
  • Sustainability as capacity to respond with what you have
  • Included 100 million species
  • In 1997, got Japanese to fold on zero emissions

In 1995, wrote book with Fritjof Capra, Steering Business Towards Sustainability

  • How do we success in changing business models, steering society towards sustainability

According to U. Penn., in the top 10 think tanks with the most innovative policy ideas and proposal

  • No center, a network

The Steve Jobs of sustainability, or the Che Guevara of sustainability?

We have to innovate business models

Have to drop this idea of core business

  • Panda is endangered, as people encroach, not enough food
  • Government protects pandas, put in zoos
  • Is this the real problem?
  • Could the panda change the diet, not eat bamboo
  • Same for business
  • Businesses want to be loved, need massive marketing
  • This is more behaving like cockroaches, they can live on what they have
  • Panda won’t survive, cockroaches will

Business models of “e-mail for free”

  • For this, you give everything about you, and they make billions

Diapers for free?

  • Diapers are a modern product, 45% of any landfill in any city
  • Expands 5 times in size, kills off fish
  • So, give diapers for free, just like you get your e-mail for free
  • Then you have to deliver the soiled ones back
  • Make black earth, 30-35% concentration of carbon that we need to fix back into the soil
  • We’ve been mining carbon in the soil, need a strategy to put it back
  • Forget about CO2, think about soil
  • Biomass, excrement
  • One baby with one year –> 1000 fruit trees
  • 1kg is enough for fruit tree
  • Not in the diaper business, we’re in the fruit tree business
  • Redesigning cities:  Gothenburg, Oslo — looking into how we can the diaper
  • 25 years –> 25 million trees –> 1.25 million tons of fruit
  • This is the abundance that we get, if we think in systems
  • But we need to change the business models, otherwise we won’t get the soil
  • This can be fixed into mathematical models
  • To policy-maker, can talk about free-fruit babies, can scrap organic baby food
  • Better cash flow, better business model
  • 65% of all diapers today are produced in Indonesia

No money to do this?

  • Why not just do, and the money will flow to you automatically
  • Not building business plans

In Cabildo de El Hierro

  • Spain, last island
  • $90M USD for water and power for 10,000 inhabitants
  • These people spend $10M USD in imported diesel a year
  • 25% per annum ROI, then 30 years free power and water
  • Have done this:  water, energy, jobs, mobility, subsidies
  • Not fundable with present banking systems, but if look systemic, it’s a gold mine
  • Merged the power company with the water company, aligning interest (otherwise wouldn’t get cheap water)
  • No pumping $3M cash into local city, as managing own
  • $10M for petroleum is now $3M pure profit for water at lower cost
  • Next phase $140M for 6000 electric vehicles for 10,000 inhabitants
  • For $200 per month for 10 years for car, power and investment
  • Car is owned by power and water company
  • Success:  2x water, 1/2 price; renewable energy; new farms with organic agriculture; small scale industries (yogurt, meat, farmer gets 10% of price of the processed product); scientific tourism, municipal water/power company leaving EV; an island with a future adding $24M USD per year
  • Business model transforms the economy


  • Goats give cashmere
  • Destroying the Gobi desert
  • If you buy a cashmere sweater over the Internet, Paypal makes more than the goat herders
  • Increased demand destroys 5,000 years of tradition
  • Vicious circle: increased demand
  • Now, complete desertification
  • How to save the shepherd?

Have a deal with Sybilla’s 10%

  • Cashmere sold direct, cash-only, only in pop-up store, 10% goes directly to shepherd, he gets 12% more
  • Can’t do this Excel spreadsheets

A new business model for tea, in India

  • Kaziranga National Park, Assam India
  • Wild elephants, rhinos
  • A Tata Enterprise, Amalgamated Tea Plantation
  • Tea production falls, people active only 7 months per year, leads to poaching next door
  • Tea provides canopy shades, put in pepper vines
  • Try to get Tata people into saying not just in tea business, but in the tea and pepper business
  • Prunings, the volume is 4x that of tea leaves, so form mushrooms in that
  • Then need to dry mushrooms
  • Launching hatakuli tea
  • Value generation is 21 times larger than other Tata tea companies
  • Employment 2000+
  • In finals for Buckminister Fuller awards

Only consuming 0.2% of coffee, the rest is wasted

  • Chido Govera Chipinge, Zimbabwe
  • Have 3000 farms around the world, but should have 25 million
  • Have coffee in textiles, carpets, fridges, paint, energy
  • Growing economy 500 times
  • Can do this if get out of core business competence

Stone mines in Colorado

  • Chemicals
  • Made paper with stone
  • Don’t cut trees for paper, don’t use water, recyclable forever
  • Working with Chinese government, 4 factories build
  • Transforming foods for the world
  • Systems dynamics shows this
  • Have to change the logic
  • Cellulose is heavier than rock, so we blend the paper with air (as micro air bubbles, cost zero)

Changing the logic around commodities

Flower:  thistle, cardoum

  • In U.S., kill this
  • But it’s a perennial that doesn’t go away
  • Converted biorefinery factory, to process thistle into lubricants
  • Waste becomes animal feed
  • Enzymes go into goat cheese
  • Thistle:  no planting cost
  • Doing biorefining in old petrochemical factory
  • Have done this with 6 factories, transforming Italy, eliminating petroleum crackers
  • More value, more jobs

Teach systems dynamics and mathematical transparency

Next training at the Blue University, El Hierro

  • Have invested $4 billion over the last 4 years

2009 wrote a report to the Club of Rome

Ideas are based on ethics

  • Network of mentors, focused on implementers
  • Not enough implementers, not entrepreneurs

If we only teach our children what we know, they won’t think out of the box

  • Baby elephants change tusks 5 times
  • Why kill elephants, when tusks fall off for free?
  • Published The Tusk Fairy, in China
  • Yao Ming presents the fable
  • We need to put communications in, to touch the hearts, not in mathematics

Chinese government are ready for system thinking, ministry decided on stone paper in 30 minutes

If you’re not inspiring the next generation, you’re focusing on Excel spreadsheets

It always seems impossible, until it’s done.  Nelson Mandela

[John Kineman]

Will defer questions to after all speakers.

We need thousands to do this, where do we get them?

  • Focusing on systems literacy

Currently punishing teachers for teaching holistically


#isss, #isss2016