What We Learned At Beyond Next:
The Circularity Festival
Key insights huddled from the Beyond Next Exploration Track
Our first circularity festival, co-hosted with Amsterdam Fashion Institute (AMFI), brought together the current and next generations of leaders in circularity to tackle urgent global challenges. More than 40 speakers joined us for two inspiring days of action on February 7–8, when we also hosted four two-day challenge workshops with our event partners, AMFI, ABN AMRO, City of Amsterdam and HEMA.
Shifting Mindsets: from extractive to generative
Our plenary session kicked off with a keynote speech from Kate Raworth, self-described ‘renegade economist’ and bestselling author of Doughnut Economics. She focused on what economics really means in the context of finite resources, planetary and societal boundaries.
Kate’s concept of “Doughnut Economics” defines a framework of planetary boundaries (the outer edge of the doughnut) and the deficit in basic rights and social justice (the hole), representing both environmental and social concerns in the same graphic representation.
The hole at the center of the Doughnut represents the scarcity of basic needs for people with inadequate access to water, food or housing. The goal for policy-makers, she argued, is to create a ‘safe and just space’ — represented by the doughnut itself, for all humanity. This is the green part of the Doughnut.
At the edge of the doughnut, the planet and its peoples can no longer afford to ‘overshoot’ the systemic equilibrium of nature: a stable climate, healthy oceans and clean air. An economic system which operates within planetary boundaries is essential to our well-being and survival.
Kate made a passionate advocate for the circular economy, urging a cognitive shift from the 20th-century extractive mindset — focused on the pursuit and extraction of financial value, to a new 21st-century generative mindset, focused on qualitative benefits for both people and planet.
What does it take to shift to the generative mindset?
- Purpose — repurpose your business that goes beyond the financial value
- Governance — good leadership and transparency
- Networks — be part of a group that gives you strength
- Ownership — is the business owned by a company?
- Finance — how is finance in the company affected by ownership?
In today’s economy, many business leaders are torn between conflicting priorities. Companies may wish to re-invent last-century business models in pursuit of a more sustainable purpose, but investors and the structural incentives of our financial system reward short-termism and an extractive mentality.
The key to uniting purpose with financial imperatives is, Kate argued, to nurture a new system of financing and ownership that is regenerative by design. We’ll return to this in our next post, with examples of this new development paradigm in action — from Frans van Houten, CEO of Philips; Carola Wijdoogen, Corporate Sustainability Officer of Dutch rail operator NS; and Martin Stuchtey, founder of consulting firm Systemiq.