Building First-level Resiliency

Most global investment strategy is planned through a network of proxies: governments invest in global institutions (like the World Bank and IMF), which in turn invest in other governments, and the success of their work is measured in proxy values, like GDP—Gross Domestic Product. None of these levers of influence gives us direct access to the truth of human scale impact. So, we need to build a new framework for prioritizing that impact.

We know there are methods that will allow us to get around the proxy problem: the most important is to listen to stakeholders. And that works best, when we democratize—actually allow stakeholders to have a say in what happens with respect to the their own situation. But we also need conceptual policy frames to allow us to see what is really at work.

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GOOD-based economic policy—generative economic investment strategy, rooted in an awareness of Generative Organic Optimization Demand—aims to privilege activities that expand the resource base, instead of depleting it. Investment in solar technology is generative, for example, where investment in tar-sands oil is degenerative; installation of expanded wind-energy capacity is generative, where mountaintop-removal coal mining is degenerative.

Outside of material resources (like fuel, technology and energy), social resources like education also follow the same logic. For instance, when major international bodies invest in the government apparatus of regimes that provide little substantive education opportunity but finance exploitation of public lands for oil or other mineral resources, they are devaluing their investment, from inception; when they focus on humanizing generative investments, like robust 21st-century education, they amplify the value of their investments.

When we look at the value of resource-building investments at the human scale, we are talking about building, or undermining, first-level resiliency. The “first level” is the point of contact between ordinary people’s lives and the wider economic reality.

There is too much talk, at times, about subverting or inverting the policy-making structure, as if radical sudden change were somehow productive. And while we need to build human-scale efficacy and a presumption that policy should dignify all people into global institutions, and that is most efficiently done by reforming the existing framework—especially where we can build real democracy into the process—we can talk about removing the presumption that “first” means “at the top”.

Building first-level resiliency requires sound thinking about what kind of generative investments build humanizing social resources, at the human scale—in the immediate environment of real people living their lives organically as they do every day in the society in question. We can do this by first harmonizing GOOD-based economic analysis with the testimony of stakeholders and their least self-interested witnesses.

So, we need to actively consider how best to reform our policy priorities, to ensure our investments are always generative and never degenerative of first-level resiliency—generative resource access at the human scale. 2014 should be a year devoted to building this awareness, having this conversation, and proposing comprehensive schematic reforms to global development priorities.

So, we will help build that coalition of thinkers, wherever possible, and use this page as a home base for the project. Please share your ideas, your testimony, your brainstorms, for how best to build this new vocabulary of generative policy, and move forward expanding first-level resiliency that builds present and future value at the human scale.

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Originally published Oct. 21, 2013, at Geoversiv.com

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