Fiduciary Finance, Paying Nature, New Paths to Climate Security

Bank of Nature is a design initiative
to create a two-way human-nature partnership

Why?
To define endgame sustainability, build climate security
and cultivate human and non-human dignity

At Bank of Nature, we challenge conventional thinking. We ask different questions to find new answers.

We’re building a safer alternative path around the traditional barriers that, so far, stymie climate security and solutions to other planet-scale challenges, like the loss of human agency. Our Bank of Nature path leads to endgame sustainability.

Our strategy is entirely built on a reevaluation of money and what it means, the enduring preeminence of money between now and a climate-changed future, and how money can unify toward endgame sustainability.

Yes, to be clear, we are using money that is too often a trigger for many valid concerns about colonization, privilege, violence, national interests and degradation  as a fiduciary finance tool for global stewardship.

For example, why don’t we pay nature rent for living here? We are a society because of it. And, why is an extractive society that extinguishes nature the only way forward? We are crashing into planet-scale limits.

Why is climate insecurity our chosen narrative — the one we hand to future generations? Or, the acceptance of social inequality?

Bank of Nature is more than a metaphor to change the world. We’re a proxy for nature that works independently of government and industry to focus on one strategy: “We win only if nature wins more”.

With that, a host of problems that seem insurmountable or expensive start to unwind. The tools, money and mission exist. Bank of Nature is additive, adaptive and structural at scale.

It’s radically reasonable.

Borrowing comes
at a cost.
So does theft

Nature is a bank

Can nature be a bank? It’s the central question to our design initiative. We say, “Yes.” Nature, just like the corner bank that holds your car loan, is entitled to terms, interest, penalties and repayment for what our society has borrowed. But, to date, society, embodied by markets and government, has taken nature’s value without terms or repayment – robbing the environment of its ability to sustain us. Importantly, society is stealing from humanity, from ourselves, diminishing our human agency that exists as part of nature. Nature, through a legal and independent proxy, can be as hungry for returns as any investor in our society’s success. It can also repossess.

What strategy acknowledges our obligation to future generations?

Endgame sustainability

Modern sustainability, a practice steeped in terms of fear and sacrifice, lacks an endgame. Instead, it zeros in on greenhouse gas emissions, rather than a “whole planet” strategy that addresses the foundational aspects of the crisis. At the center of it, is our society that is built on the extraction of natural and social capital to make wealth. When can we feel the climate is secure? Bank of Nature is bound to the idea of climate hope. When can 8 billion people experience an improved quality of life as part of an interactive partnership with nature? We want to anchor our initiatives to a destination: a future already made sustainable. By choosing a point of future success, we can engage in the big ideas we need today to realize that vision. A bank may be about your happy and healthy retirement, a future state in which you can enjoy your hard work. Endgame sustainability is a path toward the reward of security.

Earthlings investing
in ourselves

Humans are nature

A basic lesson of managing money is to “pay yourself first.” Humans, as biological entities sustained by a thin and at-risk atmosphere, are not separate or distinct from nature. We are Earthlings. We are nature. Our future is bound to the success, or failure, of the planet’s unique biogeochemical processes, currently under siege  by our society’s choices. Those choices compromise nature and us —  just like other species on extinction watch lists. At Bank of Nature, we want to use fiduciary money directly to bolster those geobiochemical processes in a new economic human-nature partnership that is interactive (two way) rather than extractive (one-way).

Positive planet-scale
geobiochemical impacts

A good Anthropocene

The debate about whether, or not, humans are living at a scale that impacts the geobiochemical processes of the Earth is less helpful than acknowledging, and acting on, the potential that we might. While other names for this geologic time are possible, the Anthropocene epoch, an age in which humans are the dominant force in planetary processes, is usually cast as negative. There are “good Anthropocene” proponents, of which Bank of Nature would be one. If it weren’t conventionally considered naive to think that we, collectively, can be neutral or even beneficial agents of planet-scale processes, how might a good Anthropocene go? In contrast, if we default to a bad Anthropocene, is it any wonder we feel threatened, as if this chapter is already written as an epilogue. Bank of Nature is a place defined by endgame sustainability and two-way human-nature partnership that are foundations of a good Anthropocene,

Synchronous,
seven-continent strategies

Thinking at scale

The climate crisis is a nature crisis and a global crisis, regardless of the geopolitical map that arbitrarily divides up national interests or markets. It extends beyond the borders, national interests, growth imperatives and shareholder value that impede a global response today. It lays bare the social crisis of human dignity made worse by the human-made environmental threat. As a financial portal dedicated to climate security, global human dignity and a future made sustainable, Bank of Nature works at planet-scale. It engages with the global commons to execute remedies that have worldwide benefits regardless of borders or hemispheres or privilege. Run by Earthlings, Bank of Nature is using existing tools, like finance with a stewardship mission, to engage in strategies that are far bigger than what we consider effective today.

Economy that accounts for nature

Sufficiency

Growth imperatives are the complicating factor for governments and markets that must satisfy economic and shareholder performance expectations. Those initiatives dedicated to wealth are extracted from nature — taking resources to apply to industry without a plan to restore the value lost to nature. Scarcity economics has yet to fully account for nature: externalities, environmental services, and the costs of society to nature. The real or imagined cost of planet-scale climate remedies threatens growth and value. Bank of Nature, positioned as a proxy for nature independent of traditional business and government, works with growth as a sufficiency metric. What is enough? Can we feed 10 billion future Earthlings when we struggle with 7.8 billion Earthlings today? Growth that comes from extending nature, rather than depleting it, is sufficient.

Choosing the scope
of the correction

Sacrifice

There is a correction looming. Extreme climate, made worse by human society’s decision-making, is already upon us with wildfires and hurricanes and famine-inducing droughts. We have social unrest, climate refugees and a deepening loss of human dignity. Climate advocates embody a growing constituency of Earthlings worried about climate and other global pandemics and ask for change that is defined in terms of sacrifice. The status quo is not sustainable and we’ve known this for a century. The status quo, however, is profitable and even more so with fear about climate. Like all bubbles, the status quo will eventually burst in ways meant to correct this imbalance. This correction will hurt. It will take from us. Bank of Nature, the first proxy for nature, opts to get ahead of that inevitably and execute on initiatives that choose the cost of the correction. The status quo, as it is configured without a proxy for nature, has chosen instead to let the correction happen without mitigating its fallout, the price of which will be more than just money. Sacrifice, at planet scale, is a choice we can make to intercede.

Disclosing the
divide in priorities

Conflicts of interest

We are frustrated about the minimal response to the scale of the environmental and social crises we face. Anger is directed at either government or businesses building value through markets. Both government and markets are guided by scarcity economics, which suggests value increases as resources decrease. As part of a very old status quo, imperatives like “growth” and “value” are imposed legally or through policy. Those imperatives are more important than initiatives like climate and social remedies that are a drag on performance and value. It leads to inaction and anger and growing threats. This is the impact of the internal conflict of interest within the key players entrusted with managing our global crises. Bank of Nature introduces an independent proxy for nature that operates with out the conflict and focusses directly on the problems on our path to endgame sustainability.

Exposing today’s decisions
to future legal claims

A safer alternative path

At Bank of Nature, our commitment to long-termism is our commitment to future generations. Specifically, we want to make future generations legally relevant in today’s decisions that may, in the long run, negatively impact the lived experiences of future generations. For example, our continued exploration and extraction of fossil fuels when we know how that diminishes Earth’s future environment: this is a choice for an unsafe path. A safe alternative path is a choice made by this society today to opt for an alternative living strategy that does not undermine the viability of generations to come. Evolving the law happens when we establish Bank of Nature, and other proxies for nature and future generations, as the safer alternatives to speculation, market gambling and extraction of nature without a plan to extend nature.

Envisioning a thriving future

Make more nature

At Bank of Nature, we believe in the power of applied imagination to help us see a future in which humans thrive in a world released from the climate threat. If we can see a world already made sustainable, then we can make choices today to realize that future vision. It’s a choice: Stay on the “business as usual” path that diminishes nature and is untethered to climate security and endgame sustainability. Or, invest in our strategy to “make more nature” through a proxy like Bank of Nature. Make more nature is the goal of a two-way human-nature economic partnership that leads to a world made sustainable. How would you “make more nature”?

The pitch for Bank of Nature:
A voice for nature
A proxy for nature
An act of global co-creation
To create endgame sustainability
Within a two-way human-nature partnership
That is interactive, not extractive.

Bank of Nature is not a bank and offers no banking services. It is a program of Cape Cod Center for Sustainability, a 501c3 nonprofit. 

Thank you to Arizona State University and its Center for Science and the Imagination for the fellowship support.

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