The ECOS Gathering

A Bretton Woods for People and the Planet


Seventy-two years ago, the world was at an inflection point. The worst war in history was coming to a close and it was increasingly obvious that the old global system — colonialism, mercantilism, European great power politics — was over. But people had no idea what could replace it. The void was filled by what emerged at a conference of elite, mostly elderly white men at a ski resort in the mountains of New Hampshire.

The Bretton Woods conference established not only the big institutions that shape the world to this day — the IMF, the World Bank, and the international trade and financial system — but also the worldview that dominates the thinking of corporate and governmental leaders: the notion that economic growth is society’s ultimate goal.

Today, the world is at a similar inflection point. While we’re not emerging from a World War, we’re facing even more obvious signs that the global system — one marked by consumerism, resource exploitation, inequality, perpetual war, and social and political alienation — is no longer tenable. While global elites continue to gather at ski resorts like Davos to make plans for the future, there’s increasing evidence that these gatherings make the current situation worse.

Albert Einstein put it best: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”


Why we need a new Bretton Woods

Instead of assembling powerful elites with conventional perspectives to dictate terms to a world in crisis, ECOS will assemble the most energized and inspired young activists from the margins to envision possibilities and plant seeds. They will be joined by respected elders from indigenous communities and creative public intellectuals from diverse spheres of society. ECOS will bring together leading thinkers, activists, artists, and leaders from the frontlines of failing political and economic systems.

ECOS is a Bretton Woods for people and the planet.

What unites ECOS participants is commitment to building a new blueprint for the global economic and political order founded on compassion, reverence for the earth, on cooperation rather than control. Like Bretton Woods seventy years ago, ECOS is a platform to connect, face-to-face, and to combine efforts toward cultivating and realizing a unified vision. Unlike Bretton Woods, ECOS will be radically diverse, span multiple modes of collaboration, and rigorously transcend individual issue areas to craft sustainable and systems-oriented solutions.

It’s sane and natural to break complex problems into their simplest components. But, we, as a species, no longer have this luxury.

Distinguishing ECOS from other gatherings today will be the unique diversity of delegates and a facilitation process based in complexity science that ignites collaboration to take the conversation from single issue band-aid responses to scalable transformative action.

What makes ECOS unique?

Why is this gathering different from the global “talk shops”?

Teachings. Tools. Timing.

Teachings: While most global summits offer executives and politicians with opportunity to expound on their ideas and preferences, ECOS aims to empower activists and indigenous leaders to “school” powerful and influential people, including policymakers and public intellectuals. Complexity science — a trans-disciplinary academic field that approaches the web of life in a manner that’s similar to many traditional indigenous modes of thinking —provides a rigorous platform for breaking disciplinary silos and bringing intersectionality to the dialogue. This holistic orientation is the core value proposition of the ECOS Gathering.

Tools: The ECOS Gathering — which will feature 350 diverse delegates from around the world —will rely on new and innovative tools, including: WatchThinkVote (a platform for enabling delegates to share stories, ideas, and feedback before, during, and after the ECOS event), Developmental Evaluation (a cutting-edge set of tools for helping participants to make sense of complexity by facilitating structured reflection around key decision points), and a unique ECOS Training Manual (developed by the Center for Emergent Diplomacy and the Indigenous Education Institute to maximize diversity of viewpoints, transcendence of disciplinary silos, and linkages to policy and practical action).

Timing: It’s no secret that people — across the world, across income levels, and across the ideological spectrum — are desperately seeking change. But even as the aspirations reach a critical point again and again (from Occupy to the Idle No More, Black Lives Matter to the 2016 Election), we’ve yet to find a forum to enable people to crystallize the way forward. The start of a new US presidential administration in 2017 coincides with the absolute make-or-break point for key decisions around climate and the desired shape of our economy. Society faces crucial time-sensitive decisions about inequality, social inclusion, our relationship to the natural world. There’s never been a better time for a new Bretton Woods.

Taking Part

How you can get involved in ECOS

The ECOS Gathering will take place from April 21th to 28th, 2017 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA.

Because ECOS is a grassroots gathering, it will depend on support from friends and responsible institutional allies around the world. Every contribution counts.

You can donate to ECOS here.

Donations will enable selected delegates, who lack financial resources, to attend and share their insights. Donations will also enable ECOS organizers to hire leading facilitators.

To date, ECOS has secured extraordinary meeting facilities and participation from ecologists, tribal elders, new economic thinkers, seasoned US policymakers, multimedia artists, noted writers, and scholars. If you would like to be considered as a delegate or a volunteer for ECOS, please visit the ECOS website.

Click here to learn more about ECOS

ECOS is about regeneration.

It’s about envisioning and building a new economic system that’s fair, sustainable, participatory, and robust. It’s about cultivating political will and courageous leaders.

We hope you can take part.