We were with Gunter Pauli, Founder of Blue Economy
Spanish version here
Florencia: We read a lot about you, you are of from Belgium, you are an entrepreneur and have presented this initiative, Blue Economy to Club of Rome that had been approved by the Club of Rome. Is that so?
Gunter: as a researcher at the University of the United Nations, i had the task to imagine a new business model. I proposed the concept of zero emissions, zero waste in 94. What it happened is that during the Kyoto protocol it was not accepted as a concept, politicians decided to make a certification to exchange certificates for allowances so I decided to commit to specific projects, to see if it is possible to have no waste. It does not mean that there is no waste, but all wastes have an added value that respond to a local need. Well, after about 15 years of work, i proposed it to the Club of Rome, that in all research and practice, we should have zero emissions, and it would have to be offered to the world in a broader academic platform, but my colleague was told that the name "zero emissions" would not like much, because it is too technical, too complicated and everyone says that is not possible, and so I asked him a different name and thus was born the concept of " blue Economy" because the sky is blue, the sea is blue and the view of the exterior of the universe is also mainly blue.
Florencia: there hss been a FAO publication that ask to incorporate Blue economy to Green Economy.What do you think about that?
Gunter: Look, we have a reality, there is a lot of greenwashing, people are saying that we are sustainable, we are green and that is not truth and we are clear about not to disturb what people are doing at the other side i do not want to disturb people who are making effords to to get it better. I mean I'm like a pioneer, who is always on, always pushing for new standards. For me, a new standard is a change of ethics, it means that we can not pollute less, we have to do better with what we have. That is, if i am a person who pollute less, and still contaminate. Is it okay ?. That is similar to say that if i am a thief and you are the police and you grab me like a thief and i say, i'll keep stealing less is not an answer that you would enjoy, you will not be happy with that. You're going to say that I do not steal. If you are polluting, does it sounds logic to pollute less? Physically we have to do it in our nature, in our environment, in our city, in our forests. And so I think that all the change from green to blue is all we have to rearrange to talk about ethics. We spent doing less bad to do much better.
Florencia: What do you think abut the Club of Budapest, does it aims to be the continuation of the Club of Rome, have you been in contact with this Club, from which country?
Gunter: I looked at the outset, I am a creative member of the Club of Budapest, I was invited by Ervin Laszlo, we were together in the Club of Rome, because Ervin Laszlo was a member of the Club of Rome from the 79, that is that we already spent many years . The Club of Budapest has a slightly different approach. It is much more focused on what we call ethics, business concept and much more ethical behavior. The Club of Rome has a very long-term perspective, it has a perspective of the interconnectedness of all activities on earth. It is systemic, and I think they are complementary at the end of the day, and I think more or less about 10 members of the Club of Rome are also members of the Club of Budapest.
Florencia: isn´t an initiative that has a lot to do with spirituality? Thomas Berry, is one of its members, there are many spiritual leaders is´n it?
Gunter: Yes, what it happens is that we need certain approaches. I think the Club of Budapest has its approaches, it is more at a target level, the Club of Rome is really focusing on the problems of our interconnected lives, you can not solve the water problem if you do not have health, if you do not have health, you can not talk about food, if you do not have food, water, health you have to connect with the housing and mobility, everything is highly interconnected. Hence the Club of Rome has a very unique message. I think the message of the Club of Rome has more value today, because the Club of Rome has always discussed the need to leave in your black box. We live in a black box where we wanto to find a solution to water, and if you only look at the water, chlorine is perhaps the only solution to find, because you drill chlorine in water and you think you have solved the problem. No, chlorine also creates another problem. You'll want to replace chlorine with other chemicals that may also generate another problem. That is the great value of the Club of Rome, it has the ability to explain and complete cases, that the world is interconnected, which is also another form of spirituality.
Florencia: How do you see Argentina and the Blue Economy? How do you think that your initiative may impact here in Argentina?
Gunter: Look, I'm not here since 18 years, i can not claim to have a menu in my pocket to respond. No, I'm here to learn. To dialogue, to give me an impression about which are the challenges facing the country, what are the challenges facing the people, every country has its challenges, everyone has their cross to bear. But the important thing is that i want to take these 5 days, 6 days in Argentina to learn, to listen and to share some specific cases we have implemented in the world, because you can talk about philosophy, with concepts, but people today need to be inspired by something you can touch, and something you can touch and see and not the ordinary. It's not what we're expecting. I hope my specific cases give some guidelines that might be feasible, but at some point may be very critical, because we have to say what does not work, which is already more than proven that more of the same will not have better results.
Einstein defined as stupid when you try to do more of the same expecting good results, you can not.
Argentina has a new government, Argentina has a chance, but we can not expect too much from one person. We have to make a transformation in ourselves in order to access other opportunities. In the longer term I hope we can help build the portfolio of opportunities. My organization is not engaged in analyzing problems. People devote their whole life to analyze problems. I do not, the problems are what they are, but we have to identify what is already possible today because unemployment has no patience, hunger has no patience, mothers with a malnourished child does not have patience, and we must remember that poor people, have the right to live well. If we put everything in a long term, and trust only in large multinational companies, I feel sorry for everyone, but that's not what will take the country forward.
It is only a component that can help, but not enough.
Florence: I imagine that systemic innovation for you cover all these issues.
Gunter: is more than systemic. What we need is innovation to certain and different levels at the same time. That is, we need the integration of a product. For example, we could control bacteria without chemistry. No. Very shoeing. First, we have many other techniques that allow us to have that goal. Second, we need to think that the process that generates the product or service must also be rethought. The process of reaching production, chemistry with a physical effect. We need to be very clear and sustainable. We must respond to the needs of the economy and the nature and third, perhaps most importantly, we need to change the business model of today where the only goal is to make money, please. Life is not money, we can not grab up one day when we are not. This means that we have to dedicate ourselves to a concrete reflection on what is the business model. And not the business model where we always have been teaching in the great universities, we have to produce more from less, more of the same, but always at a lower cost and this will have no future. The economy of scale by producing cheaper destroys the social fabric, destroys the fabric of nature, it also destroys the purpose of the economy, which is to generate added value.
The engine of the economy is not low, the engine of the economy is generating more added value. Tangible and intangible, and we think the biggest challenge we have today is rethinking the business model.
If we are not willing to rethink the business model, we will never get out of the crisis. Not in the US, or Japan, or China, or here.
Florencia: are you living in Japan or South Africa?
Gunter: all my activities are in Japan, but then Tsunami, life in Japan for a family of 6 children is not life, so my family decided to move to South Africa.
Finally I told him that Father Opeka, an Argentine candidate for Nobel Peace Prize who is bringing people out of poverty and garbage dumps.I told him that i hoped him to find him and follow him, and that these initiatives are very important. I mentioned that they may have the possibility to replicate in Argentina. Gunter concluded by saying that this last depends on the Argentines. I agree!