Emerson Elemental: Humanity and Nature in Healthy Harmony
Posted December 2016
In 2016, Emerson Collective established Emerson Elemental—a platform and portfolio designed to strengthen the symbiosis between humanity and nature. Emerson Elemental operates at the nexus of three guiding approaches:
- Humanitech: Deploy technology in the service of humanity and nature
- Transition by Design: Design a just and deliberative transition to an equitable society operating in sync with nature
- Natural Currency: Realize the full value of natural capital invested and exchanged in the marketplace of humanity’s needs
We place a premium on replicable solutions that prioritize the needs of all of humanity. Emerson Elemental aspires to forge a radical “remedy of the commons”—transforming markets, and scaling enabling technologies, programs, and platforms that offer differentiated solutions for critical, systems-level challenges.
We strive to achieve our ambitious goals in a timeframe that is consequential for both humanity and nature, and commensurate with the urgency of the challenges facing us all.
We support great entrepreneurs, bold innovators, and courageous leaders who avoid excess dependency on policy and do not wait for permission – people who commit themselves to measurable action with a contagious spirit of optimism and continuous realization of results. These people are the “Doers.”
Emerson Elemental vigorously supports the Doers. We are committed to elevating their innovative work and amplifying their voices. We are committed to connecting Doers and multiplying their impact.
At a time when many are melancholy over listless bureaucracies and political inaction, Emerson Elemental is positively powering ahead.
Why now? The Tragedy of the Commons
For all the good works, good intentions, green investments, sustainability trends, conservation areas, and climate conferences over decades, measurable meaningful impact has thus far been scarce and elusive. Environmental and conservation efforts have failed to keep pace with the exponential increase in the degradation of our natural habitat and the cascading effects of climate change.
We are suffering from an imminently predictable and readily diagnosed "tragedy of the commons" induced by misaligned market incentives that lead to perverse outcomes and unintended consequences. We don't assume that markets are inherently bad. Markets are created by design, however inadequate, and so must be transitionedby design.
Climate change is an acute consequence of this imbalance, not the root cause. We must aspire to create an equitable society operating in sync with nature. Concurrent with climate action, we must ensure universal and equitable access to potable water. We must consider the child plagued with asthma in Beijing, Delhi, and New York City. We must inevitably address the failures of equity that yield food waste, corrosive farming practices, and both food deserts and starvation.
We have faith in the resilience of nature and our planet to provide the sustainable and durable world we desire—if we let it. But this will happen only if we restore and strengthen the relationship between ourselves and our natural world.
What Emerson Elemental Will Do
To arrive intentionally at the future we desire to create for all children, and not drift further into habitat erosion and self-destruction by default, Emerson Elemental is committed to discovering and supporting new tools in design thinking and technology development. We will demonstrate that technology is best appreciated and valued when directed in the service of humanity, and not the other way around.
Markets are often the most powerful, prolific medium of the transformations we seek, but markets don't make strategy. They are neither inherently good nor evil. The imperfections in market design are a formula for tragedy in search of cure.
We are fostering a new class of investments in innovative, imaginative ideas from leaders of relentless passion and acumen surfing waves of inflections to scale solutions faster than our problems escalate.
Importantly, Emerson Elemental is prioritizing supporting and strengthening those who are least responsible and least equipped to cope with the effects of a changing climate. Sadly, indigenous communities across our world are disproportionately and unjustly burdened with the greatest consequences of both climate change and market failures to account for the true value of natural capital.
While they have historically stewarded the planet’s natural treasures and remaining great wild places, native peoples have been tragically disenfranchised and ironically often stripped of their ability to protect the resources that sustain us all. We have to reverse this deleterious cycle by deepening understanding and appreciation of all cultures across the human family and elevating their capacity to protect and conserve global ecosystems in our enlightened self-interest.
While our challenges are grand, our immediate goals are summed up simply:
- to cultivate and accelerate differentiated solutions to high-value challenges;
- to activate, amplify, and unite a community of action-oriented Doers;
- to partner with leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs; and
- to invest for measurable impact.
Elemental seeks to ambitiously, but humbly approach our shared challenges with new remedies of the commons infused with the values of Emerson Collective.