Reimagining the Future: The Biomimetic Economy

Format: Papers, RSD3, Topic: Economics & Organisations

Authors: Ryan Church, Ksenia Benifand and Nihal Ahmed

Growing global population and a rising middle-class (three billion globally by 2030 – Ellen MacArthur Foundation)are putting a strain on the environment and depleting the world’s stock of biophysical resources. The dominant economic system behaves as a linear system and based on the rapid use, disposal, and replacement of goods (Benyus, 1997). The global capitalist economic system has poorly prepared to deal with unexpected events such as climate change and its impacts. To deal with global impending and complex issues, we propose a renewed model of an economic system that closely integrates Biomimicry principles.

Biomimicry is the study of how nature’s systems and processes function to solve the problems of survival. Nature’s dynamics are then applied human innovation (Benyus, 1997). The environmental technologies and societal innovations we need are often already present the core of nature’s design since nature has, through evolution, already found the most energy-efficient solution for many problems. Biomimicry therefore promises to be a cogent design tool for the near future (Passino, 2004).

Our GIGAmap, Reimagining the Future: The Biomimetic Economy, isan exploration of the nature of economic systems in relation to ecological systems – resilience, optimization, adaptability, systems based, value based and life supporting – through the design principals of biomimicry. Through our research, we created a learning tool that allows users interested in developing healthy economies and sustainable business practices to follow and learn from the principles of diversification; import shifting, succession; the three-horizon framework, biodiversity; multiple feedback loops and symbiosis; the sharing economy. In addition, we describe the creation of a new framework, titled the shared futures infinity loop (SFI Loop), which posits to replace the panarchy (Holling, 2001) as the model for sustainable economic progression to create a more sustainable world.

Presentation & paper

Citation Data

Author(s): OCTOBER 2017
Title: Reimagining the Future: The Biomimetic Economy
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Article No.:
Symposium Dates:
First published: 28 September 2014
Last update:
Publisher Identification:

Copyright Information

Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (ISSN 2371-8404) are published annually by the Systemic Design Association, a non-profit scholarly association leading the research and practice of design for complex systems: 3803 Tønsberg, Norway (922 275 696).


Open Access article published under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License. This permits anyone to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or form according to the licence terms.

Suggested citation format (APA)

Author(s). (20##). Article title. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design, RSD##. Article ##.

Publishing with RSD

Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design are published online and include the contributions for each format.

Papers and presentations are entered into a single-blind peer-review process, meaning reviewers see the authors’ names but not vice versa. Reviewers consider the quality of the proposed contribution and whether it addresses topics of interest or raises relevant issues in systemic design. The review process provides feedback and possible suggestions for modifications.

The Organising Committee reviews and assesses workshops and systems maps & exhibits with input from reviewers and the Programme Committee.

Editor: Cheryl May
Peter Jones
Ben Sweeting

The Scholars Spiral

In 2022, the Systemic Design Association adopted the scholars spiral—a cyclic non-hierarchical approach to advance scholarship—and in 2023, launched Contexts—The Systemic Design Journal. Together, the RSD symposia and Contexts support the vital emergence of supportive opportunities for scholars and practitioners to publish work in the interdisciplinary field of systemic design.

The Systemic Design Association's membership ethos is to co-create the socialization and support for all members to contribute their work, find feedback and collaboration where needed, and pursue their pathways toward research and practice outcomes that naturally build a vital design field for the future.


Verified by MonsterInsights