Scale of transition demands need to reimagine, reconstruct and revolutionise


Zibran Choudhury


Last week, Philea hosted PEXforum 2022 in Istanbul, Turkey, and Alliance asked its readers what session they would like to hear about most in a poll. The winner was Indy Johar’s keynote on ‘Funding public ‘Good’ in complexity’ – take a look at our conference report below.

During a challenging moment, of ongoing humanitarian crises, the climate crisis, eroding trust in democracy and growing inequality, PEXforum offered philanthropy infrastructure organisations a space to ‘share perspectives, insights and provocations’, on systems change, collaboration and philanthropy as a catalyst for change. As we enter the tail end of the year, it was notable that this was the third time in 2022 Alliance readers have voted for a session on the climate crisis. Perhaps an anecdotal sign of a shift in thinking, however, the scale of transition described by the founder of Dark Matter Labs, Indy Johar, made it clear that we need more: a reconstruction of our economies, our cultural relationship with the world and our governance.

Indy Johar, started by stating that ‘Climate is just a symptom of the failure, not the failure itself’, as we can see it in every part of our lives. Soil erosion, crop yields, toxification and microplastics in our bloodstream. But this degradation runs in parallel with failed governance, which Indy described as the end of Industrial Democracy, ‘There are no big moves to end to reimagine democracy government at any structural level. Policy and legitimacy frameworks are still running on four-year cycles in a global crisis?’.

With 500 billion human units worth of energy being consumed per year, this is part of something bigger on a planetary scale. Indy’s proposition to the philanthropy infrastructure organisations in the room – we face a deep and complex transition. With most experts and research predicting we are heading for 3-4° degree increase, Indy expounded what this really means for the communities we work with.

A sense of scale

Cities would see up to a 12° degree increase in temperature where vast populations live, we’d also lose one of the major food baskets in the world, triggering social instability due to food price inflation. Economically, 68 per cent of current S&P 500 companies would be non-viable if they priced in social and climate costs, essentially creating a zombie economy. ‘As a psychological benchmark that is achievable, we’re looking at the reconstruction of post-war Europe and our economic framework at its root.’

By 2050 a staggering 1.2 billion climate migrants between nations, inside nations and across nations. We now have more people on the move today than in post-World War II. This isn’t just somewhere else; this is in Europe. As we enter a new geopolitical era, Indy explained that this will need a new multilateral framework to navigate the international rule of law.

Reimagine and revolutionise

This all sits on the human development transition, and our investment in human development is markedly problematic. Indy elaborated ‘Every major revolution has been back by an education revolution, and our human development revolution is nowhere close. You can see these material supply chains and agricultural imports.’

The crisis is our relationship with the world. We are currently seeing the world through resources and lenses of consumption, and we need to reimagine ourselves and our relationship with the world and challenge our ideas of ownership. ‘The science is there, but culturally we are locked into a dated view of the world, a world is not there. This is a deep cultural revolution needed, and we need to do the cultural work to do the rest of it.’

Foundational shifts at every level

According to Indy this will start with a shift from a material economy, focused on consuming matter, to an intangible economy based on biomaterials. However, the biggest issue will be how we make decisions as a society. ‘Our modes of decision-making do not work, at the speed and scale that’s necessary.’ Is there where the much-championed agility of philanthropy to operate where other fields can’t, have its most impact?

Indy Johar concluded by stating, that in our current posts over the next 3-5 years, we will need to make a significant difference. ‘If your strategies aren’t dealing with this, we have a problem. There is a new response required in terms of scale. We can no longer be talking about experiments, as the scale of transition will be landscape level’.

Zibran Choudhury is Communications, Partnerships & Membership Manager at Alliance magazine

Tagged in: PEXForum 2022

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