ESG LaLa Land is burning – how to leave and where to go!


As many of you return from vacation and scroll through inboxes and social media, one is amazed of the dynamics of the last months. A lot has to do with the climate and political events of this summer. Massive heatwaves in North America and parts of Europe, rain in Antarctica for the first time ever (in human documented lifetime), wildfires all over the European South, North America, Russian’s Siberian tundra, and floods of unseen proportions, apocalyptic, like after a war, and a destruction of nature and villages that will most likely can’t be built up again, not risking a repetition rather soon. And that’s the thing: repetition rather soon. What were events like ‘once in a thousand years’ now became ‘once in a hundred years’, and that doesn’t mean it will exactly mean 100 years, it can actually happen again next year. Above all, lives got taken away, scars that go through families forever. In short, we are in the middle of a ‘chaordic zone’, in which the old economic order is showing suicidal tendencies, and the new order hasn’t fully arrived yet. The helplessness of political systems leads to teeth-grinding aggression or apathy. And don’t get me started on our deeply colonial-style treatment of COVID-19 and vaccination strategies by the Western and Northern hemisphere. We need to realise:

‘If the climate crisis is the fever of Gaia, the resource crisis is her anorexia and the biodiversity crisis is her dementia.’

We are destroying the stocks of life-giving resources, as evolution is shifting to devolution, and leading to the vanishing of us humans as well. The IPCC Report has given us a very last warning, and this has to lead to immediate action. Quick, transformative, with deep-going consequences. See my Lighthouse Keeper Edition 5 for more depth.

You have heard me calling the current focus of ESG (environment, social, governance) an ‘illusion’ of sustainability – in other words, ‘ESG LaLaLand’. The 4-part series ‘The Big Sustainability Illusion’ now got read 65.000 times; it is there that the term first got coined. Since then, an avalanche of supporting articles has come out, from Tariq Fancy to Laurence Heim and Ken Pucker, from Oliver Telling to Duncan Austin, from Auden Schendler to Pablo Berrutti, from Felicia Jacksonto Robert Armstrong, do I need to go on? Oh yes, Policy Sensor just published an article that enlarged ESG LaLaLand to ‘ESG and Carbon Pricing LaLaLands’. It seems the term makes its rounds.  ESG LaLa Land is burning, and rightly so! Even cartoonists like MWcartoons are now on the issue. So far, so good.

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For many years, r3.0 has taken pride in developing what we deem necessary for arriving at a regenerative and distributive economy, and not what’s politically opportune or just practically possible, say the typical feeder for consultancies that want to sell step-by-step, incremental, budget-securing and year-long continuation-base services. We said goodbye to the idea of competition as it literally sucks out the breathable air, lets one win over the other for the sake of unsustainable growth and technical advances that will add nothing to the planet’s health (as technology never did, think it through!). A small number of winners leaves the overall majority behind weaker. If three billionaires have nothing better to do than space-jumps, we are in deep and enormous trouble. As Jeffrey Sachs commented on the UN Food Pre-Summit recently:

‘Our 2,775 billionaires, with a combined wealth of 13,100 billion USD, could easily help us to a civilized world, decent living and distributed wealth for all. But they refuse to do so’.

So, not sticking our heads into the sand, we Positive Mavericks need to confront this massive cognitive dissonance of a complete sector. As I wrote in one of my last posts:

More and more I think ESG leads to “Deadly Procrastination”. Alex Steffen’s “Predatory Delay” starts to sound too soft, as if there would still be enough time to catch up. Sorry, there isn’t.’

On the 7th and 8th of September r3.0 will hold its 8th International (Online) Conference. This is – as always – a culmination of the work of a full year, and building on all the other years of r3.0’s close to 10 years of existence, and seven earlier conferences. I’d like to show you how we approach the design of a regenerative & distributive economy. Two days full of keynotes and practical application of ready-to-use ideas, tools, Blueprints and Transformation Journeys.

The keynoters set the scene in 4 paired areas that need to leapfrog together, if we want to have a chance to succeed: science & behaviour, finance & growth, value & circularity, education & governance. The logic of pairing those is purely due to practical reasons. But the point here is: all of these eight areas need to move simultaneously, otherwise we’ll miss the boat.

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The list in this visual gives you highlights of the program: where else will you be seeing the ‘World’s First True Sustainability Report’ (differentiating from the current ESG Progress Reports that don’t mean a thing to people)? Where else will you be presented with three more case studies on the application of thresholds- and transformation-based Sustainability Indicators? Where else will you get a deep insight into multicapital, context-based measurement and accounting? And where else will you get the most advanced views into education and governance, as well as approaches to bioregionalism? Yes, all in one conference, all in two days. So, here’s Day 2:

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There is no reason to stick to ESG LaLa Land any longer. Companies, standard setters, rating, ranking and index firms, investors and asset managers, civil society organisations, educators, students, public authorities and governments can turn to r3.0 for guidance. Come and join us next week for these two exciting days. All you need to know and registration opportunities can be found here! The future is here!

P.S. All conference sessions will be recorded and made available to all registered participants a bit after the conference. So, if your individual timezone or schedule stands in the way, no problem, just plan in some binge-watching with popcorn ;-).

Also, we have a special constituency-based fee-structures at low price fee levels, compared to other two-day conferences. And if you are a student you can contact with a proof of enrolment for BA or MBA and receive a code for just 99 Euros for both days.