Economy of Love takes the first step in creating a vision of how future economics can harmoniously work together with society and nature. This vision strives towards a sustainable development where every human being can unfold his individual potential; where mankind lives together in social forms reflecting human dignity; and where all economic activity is conducted in accordance with ecological and ethical principles.
Hence, the Vision of Economy of Love (EoL) is based on the four interconnected spheres of sustainable development – economy, culture, society and ecology. In today‘s world with all its economic, social, environmental and cultural challenges, we need holistic innovations to address society‘s problems. Associations working with the idea of Economy of Love are committed to a sustainable economic model that focuses on the promotion of human development based on the principles of love and solidarity. We always work for and with others and every individual plays an important role in the fulfillment of needs and creation of value.
What does Economy of Love actually mean in the four dimensions of sustainable development in companies and institutions?
In the following we present different aspects that we see relevant and group them around the four dimensions of life. The dimensions are integrated with each other and mutually reinforcing, so they are not contradicitng our holistic approach. Our aim is to balance out individual and collective aspects as well as aspects that can be measured or „seen“ and non-materialistic, invisible aspects that can be very subjective.
The value of a product is often measured by only taking direct cost and the market value of the end product into account. But the true value of a product needs to be determined by measuring all benefits and costs that are related to the production of a product. This means that it also needs to be accounted for negative and positive externalities which are mostly hidden. In reality, these hidden costs and benefits are mostly not priced and companies set their prices only according to their own production cost while the society is bearing the hidden cost like environmental pollution, increasing health risks etc.
Solidarity between all members of the value chain is always crucial. This can occur in different forms, one of them being, for example, the solidarity between processor and producer regarding the pricings, which are always to be 15-25% higher than the cost price and, of course, settled via contract. This creates reliability, like a safety net for both parties and facilitates long-term planning.
EoL wants to prevent anonymity as this leads to replaceability and prevents, on one hand, fair and equal opportunities and on the other hand, externalizing hidden costs. Working in an environment of transparency strengthens the trust and commitment of the community involved in the production process and enables consumers to make truly informed buying decisions. Therefore, EoL set up the tracing tool impacTrace, which enables you to get to know the product’s origin, and gives you a chance to learn about the actual environmental and social impact of a product.
One of the most important key roles of EoL is deep trust between the stakeholders to strengthen both the individual and collective potential. The importance is not just to foster a trustworthy environment inside an institution but also to evolve trust in partnerships and interactions with all stakeholders in-and outside the system. For example, our high standards are assuring, that the consumer’s trust in the products positive impact and and quality is always justified. Also, the employees should find their trust into our fair and dignified working conditions always confirmed. Additionally, all of our permanent workers enjoy the safety of health insurance and social insurance, as far as unemployment and pension are concerned. Furthermore, an annual training is improving the worker’s awareness of their rights and duties.
To tackle challenges more effectively, Economy of Love strives to continously increase its network, be it small scale or big scale. Engagement in social activities of the local community and working close together with both the local community and other EoL members keeps an constant knowledge exchange going and facilitates solving problems and information spreading.
EoL aims to establish an environment that enables people to connect to the purpose of their work. Loyalty is a two-way process. If the institution expects loyalty of the stakeholders, it also needs to provide a trustworthy and safe environment, which especially our safety and health standards as well as standards regarding fair payment guarantee. These points also create motivation and a improved understanding of the EoL vision. Shortly, a trustworthy working environment will help them to open themselves to
connect deeper with the institutional idea and the people involved. Implementing initiatives where employees can contribute their own thoughts and creative ideas based on their specific areas of expertise will add an additional value.
In the agricultural sector, EoL works exclusively with products that come from truly sustainable agriculture, like the bio-dynamic approach. The essence behind supporting biodynamic agriculture is not only to offer healthy and tasteful food for people, but also to preserve, protect and build up natural resources such as soil, water and air.
An EoL strives to rethink and restructure the energy system towards production and consumption solely based on renewable energy sources which are naturally replenished on a human timescale. In order not to further exploit the earth and to protect its limited resources, a large scale commitment and alignment to this energy policy is inevitable. EoL encourages to develop the use of renewable energy in one’s own institution and further, and to communicate it to the network to enhance awareness.
Water scarcity and pollution is becoming a major issue in many parts of the world. Since the major share of all freshwater usage is accounted for by agriculture, the cautious use of water in this sector is of special importance. Effectively tackling the issue of water scarcity requires that consciousness is developed not only about direct use of water – but also about the virtual water footprint a good example are the meat or cotton industry. Our standards make sure that no groundwater is being polluted, fossile water is being conserved and, for the sake of water efficiency, irrigation is being scheduled.
Focussing on carbon neutrality means to achieve, all in all, zero carbon dioxide emissions by balancing carbon emissions. Economy of Love is aiming to achive climate neutrality within the whole value chain through a broad range of actions. Carbon sequestration for example is a natural part of biodynamic agriculture as the regularly used compost takes up a lot carbon. Emissions which are unavoidable, should be completely compensated so that the environment does not have to bear the costs of the economic system.
Preserving and rebuilding biodiversity (animals, plants, and microorganisms) is an important requirement for EoL: our standard requests a 10% biodiversity reservoir. The development of diversity of living organisms is the basis of human existence and builds the essence of nature. Maintaining and evolving this is one of the highest responsibilities within an institution.
Proper waste management is crucial for the health of the surrounding ecosystem and human beings. In Economy of Love, on top of recycling, another priority is the avoidance of waste beforehand. Addiotionally, alternatives to conventional plastic are prefered.
There’s an important connection between education and unfolding the common potential of the community. People are at the heart of EoL, therefore education within EoL is about promoting an educational approach that allows a community to evolve and to provide a fertile ground for lifelong learning for all its community members. The institutions, be it the factories or farms, are required to offer people space for development. This includes equal opportunities as well as the consideration of individual needs and specialized training for all those involved in the value chain.
Strengthening the capacity of self awareness can improve the individual potential and contribute to a deeper understanding of the core principles of EoL. An improvement of self-awareness among stakeholders and especially the leaders within the institution will affect the whole network. Implementing new ways of consciousness practices within the daily meetings can help to develop a sense of engagement with self-awareness.
The aspect of health in a context of EoL builds a diverse picture. It is not just one of the most important topics of the ecological ecosystem in agriculture and further natural dimensions but should also be considered on the collective, social and in the end on an individual level. Cultivating people’s daily work with arts, movements and awareness practices can add a tremendous benefit for the development of well-being within the Organization.
Arts and Celebration are finding a fixed place within EoL. To be in sync with the local cultural rhythm, all employees have the opportunity to follow their individual important religious practices. Also, cooperation with local initiatives of diverse kinds are a must-have for Economy of Love. Here, it is not only about unfolding own creative potential throughout arts and movements, but also to celebrate and explore together with coworkers or the community. This can develop an own cultural identity which brings people together to create a space of culture.