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Towards A New Economic Paradigm 2.0: Innovating to integrate decision-making across nature, people, society and the economy

The global economy is undergoing a rapid transformation. Fluctuating global value chains grapple with climate change, biodiversity loss, and persistent social inequities. We have reached a turning point in which, after centuries of continuous growth, we are learning that we cannot indefinitely borrow natural resources from other geographies and future generations (or, for that matter, current generations).

But there is good news.

Capturing our natural, social, human capital alongside produced (financial) capitals is a growing trend among business leaders, investors and policymakers. These capitals honour what we really care about: nature and people. When these capitals are valued and accounted for at the core of every government and business, not just pushed aside as externalities, they completely change the way decision-making happens. This is how we protect the people, places and institutions we cherish from harm.

This paper builds upon the vision of a holistic understanding of value by sharing innovation that brings together systems-thinking and valuation of impacts and dependencies as primary tools. It covers what needs to happen to embed this innovation into practice by economic actors, and what you can do to contribute. In our complex world, systems-thinking provides the framework to understand complexity, rather than ignoring it, while valuing what matters helps assign the relative importance and allows us to make informed decisions. Combining systems-thinking and valuation is an essential innovation to move towards measures of success that balance nature, people, society and the economy.

As is often the case, turbulent times provide the building blocks for innovation. While steps have been taken to address individual issues such as climate, very little work has been done at a holistic scale. In the past twelve months, the Capitals Coalition’s global community has been advancing three important systems-level innovations to make integrated decision-making practical and accessible: the Governance Framework for Valuation, the Requirements for Integrated Decision-Making and the Capitals Protocol.

Change is uncomfortable and the context we’re in operating in is complex. However, the possibilities from trying to understand that complexity are hugely exciting. Together, we have the power to evolve towards a new paradigm — one that values what really matters to us, operates within the limits of our planet and meets the needs of all.

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