From Bamboo to Generative Transcontinental Cooperation and ZERI in Europe

After reading Dirk Hebel’s powerful article


Bamboo Could Turn the World’s Construction Trade On its Head

What struck me most was the observation of how the so called development aid has further

“divided the planet between those who produce goods and services, and those who are meant just to consume”

Then the analysis of how the incentive system worked in favour of this ” unprecedented transfer of products and predefined solutions – instead of capacity-building programs – from the rich countries to poor, under the rubric of “development aid”.

 It clearly denounces the “the exploitative trade system currently in place”.

This is all well known, and it is now also established that a similar “exploitative system” is also in place in the so called developed World.

But Dirk goes further, and this also is why his article is so powerful : he shows that this apparent pervasive predicament can be reversed. In particular, the article shows how

“As a raw material found predominantly in the developing world, without a pre-existing industrial infrastructure built to skew things towards the rich world, bamboo has the potential to completely shift international economic relations”

All this brings me to following reflections:

Being in charge of ZERI Europe’s development I am fully aligned with Dirk on this. We indeed believe that the condition for sustainable communities to flourish is to use what is locally available.

But we are going further: indeed, in our view no problem can be seen and understood in isolation. The problems of our time are systemic, they are all interconnected and interdependent. We believe that ultimately they are just facets of one single crisis, a crisis of perception.

I stands for: a radical shift in perception, thinking, ethics and acting. We believe this the only way that can lead to a sustainable society, one designed in such a way that its ways of life, businesses, economy, physical structure, institutions, and technologies do not interfere with nature’s inherent ability to sustain life.

This new paradigm (understood according to Kuhn), which is a radically new conception of life, has allowed us to initiate, catalyse, support the emergence of flourishing local communities for 20 years now, communities where everyone has its basic needs met, where everyone can freely grow towards its highest potential, and autonomously auto-determine its life.

In fact we’ve demonstrated, and in our 183 cases to date, that everywhere on this World abundance can be created with what is locally available, by turning the waste of one system as a valuable input for another system, using what is locally available, without interfering with nature’s inherent ability to sustain life!.

The technologies, both material and institutional, are made available, open source, for responsible application.

I often quote Machiavelli, who wrote in “The Prince”:

“It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them.”

My task at ZERI Europe is particularly difficult to take in hand , perilous to conduct, especially in Europe, where I am in charge. But not so much “uncertain” anymore.

Recently we’ve had some very significant support from major breakthroughs from what Dirk Hegel calls “developing nations”.

Developing Nations? Is this very concept not also stemming from old thinking and perceiving? Indeed, I do see the breakthroughs appearing mostly outside of the old colonial and industrialized countries, who are much more stuck in their “Technological/Institutional Lock-Ins” and old paradigms.

Is it not time to look at things differently? I see the possibility of building a new living together, beyond any divide, and certainly between what Dirk Hebel quotes as “Those who produce goods and services, and those who are meant just to consume”.

New thinking does go beyond the old dualism inherent in the Cartesian/Newtonian scientific paradigm.

Let’s Follow Aristotle again, and his famous quote:

“The whole is more than the sum of its parts”

That’s precisely what I am undertaking at ZERI in Europe.

“How can mutually beneficial learning, support, interactions, interconnections, interdependencies, collaboration, beyond divides, but uncompromisingly, ensure the charting of a new course, to alter and dissolve the one we are still following, leading us to the yet still invisible and inconceivable Metamorphosis.”

paraphrased and translated from Edgar Morin in La Voie


About charlesvanderhaegen

I am a grandfather of an immensely inspiring family, thanks to the most incredible wife. To satisfy my family's needs, I was for 30 years business entrepreneur, roller coasting between success and failure. 17 years ago I was forced to stop and reflect. I dug into theory and discovered the World out there, that my involvement in Business had kept hidden to me. I feared that I will not escape remaining amidst my trans-disciplinary quest forever, bouncing back and forth from action to theory, always puzzled by Europe's apparent incapacity to free itself from its Institutional/Technological Lock-ins. My horizon opened up when Gunter Pauly, my intimate friend of 35 years, asked me to join him and take charge ZERI's development in Europe. I am now fully engaged alongside Gunter Pauli in the and the @myblueeconomy Networks as CEO of ZERI.EU vzw (Non for Profit association)
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