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STRATEGIC SECURITY STANDPOINT: SUSTAINABILITY, REGENERATIVE CULTURE, AND PRESILIENCE

Updated: Nov 10, 2020

By: Rommel K Manwong, PhD | LEAPS Academy Philippines

Post Graduate Diploma in Security and Resiliency Management



Introduction


Earth, our only human home, is aging and dying. We live in an environment that is problematic, full of challenges and uncertainties. Understandably, all these uncertainties are caused by the perpetual changes that time has brought us, and surely, the impacts of human activities. Nature is natural that man holds no dominance over their existence. But man’s actions are controlled and regulated that influences life and the whole of the ecosystem – our environment in conjunction with the living and non-living components.


Apart from the physiological needs, security is a basic need, and within the fundamental base of the pyramid of human needs according to Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. All these needs are within the ecosystem. The protection, therefore, of the ecosystem is vital for the human species survival.

Green Criminology and Ecology

Considering a complex and ambiguous environment, thinking and designing a regenerative culture, ensuring a condition of resiliency and state of sustainability, require the application of both natural and social sciences. These bodies of knowledge can be used to understand how we could be able to develop and sustain a regenerative human culture and transform society.

The dynamics of surviving in the ecosystem must be examined. In this context, Green criminology, a new branch of criminology, deals with the study of harms and crimes against the environment, including the study of environmental laws and policies, corporate crimes against the environment, and environmental justice on a criminological perspective. Ecology on the other hand, is a branch of biology concerning the spatial and temporal patterns of the distribution and abundance of organisms, including the causes and consequences.

The Tragedy of the Commons

By nature, man is a primary consumer in the ecosystem. In the food chain, plants and animals are interrelated organisms being eaten as food by the other. A food chain consists of different trophic levels. Plants are primary producers as they belong to the primary trophic level. The animals eating plants are herbivores and are primary consumers. Animals eating primary consumers are secondary consumers called carnivores. Man is primary consumer that eats both herbivores and carnivores. Man being a consumer than producer has the tendency to create a “tragedy of the commons”.

The tragedy of the commons is a situation in a shared-resource system where individual users, acting independently according to their own self-interest, behave contrary to the common good of all users by depleting or spoiling the shared resource through their collective action.

In economics sense, the concept of tragedy of the commons is an economic problem in which every individual has an incentive to consume a resource, but at the expense of every other individual. This occurs when individuals neglect the well-being of society in the pursuit of personal gain. This leads to over consumption and ultimately depletion of the common resource, to everybody's detriment. The tragedy here includes scarcity of resources and a rivalrous society in consumption.

Such issue must be dealt with for the security of humanity. The solutions to the tragedy of the commons include the imposition of private property rights, government regulation, and sustainable development based on a collective action arrangement.

Disaster Risk Reduction

From hazards to tragedies, and disasters to crisis, all these come along from various sources and causes. They are an expected event in human and animal living. Their impacts are burdensome in almost all domains of society. Such phenomena must be managed through holistic approaches.

According to the United Nations International Strategy for Risk Reduction, disasters often follow natural hazards. A disaster's severity depends on how much impact a hazard has on society and the environment. The scale of the impact in turn depends on the choices we make for our lives and for our environment. These choices relate to how we grow our food, where and how we build our homes, what kind of government we have, how our financial system works and even what we teach in schools. Each decision and action make us more vulnerable to disasters - or more resilient to them.

It is a matter of choice and human intervention. Disaster risk reduction (DRR) is the concept and practice of reducing disaster risks through systematic efforts to analyze and reduce the causal factors of disasters. Reducing exposure to hazards, lessening vulnerability of people and property, wise management of land and the environment, and improving preparedness for adverse events are all examples of disaster risk reduction.

If security and safety is everybody’s concern, disaster risk reduction is everyone's business. Disaster risk reduction includes disciplines like disaster management, disaster mitigation and disaster preparedness, but DRR is also part of sustainable development. In order for development activities to be sustainable they must also reduce disaster risk. On the other hand, unsound development policies will increase disaster risk - and disaster losses. Thus, DRR involves every part of society, every part of government, and every part of the professional and private sector (UNISRR).

Environmental Justice

The thought about environmental justice originated in the United States during the 1970s when some citizens organized and joined the Environmental Justice Movement in protest of toxic waste dumping facilities along areas of low-income communities, that caused multiple environmental problems.


By definition, environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. Accordingly, this goal will be achieved when everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards, and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.


Emphasized to understand environmental systems, the following environmental justice principles are offered (Andreotta, 2019):

  1. Environmental justice affirms the sacredness of Mother Earth, ecological unity and the interdependence of all species, and the right to be free from ecological destruction.

  2. Environmental justice demands that public policy be based on mutual respect and justice for all peoples, free from any form of discrimination or bias.

  3. Environmental justice mandates the right to ethical, balanced and responsible uses of land and renewable resources in the interest of a sustainable planet for humans and other living things.

  4. Environmental justice calls for universal protection from nuclear testing, extraction, production, and disposal of toxic/hazardous wastes and poisons and nuclear testing that threaten the fundamental right to clean air, land, water, and food.

  5. Environmental justice affirms the fundamental right to political, economic, cultural, and environmental self-determination of all peoples.

  6. Environmental justice demands the cessation of the production of all toxins, hazardous wastes, and radioactive materials, and that all past and current producers be held strictly accountable to the people for detoxification and the containment at the point of production.

  7. Environmental justice demands the right to participate as equal partners at every level of decision-making including needs assessment, planning, implementation, enforcement, and evaluation.

  8. Environmental justice affirms the right of all workers to a safe and healthy work environment, without being forced to choose between an unsafe livelihood and unemployment. It also affirms the right of those who work at home to be free from environmental hazards.

  9. Environmental justice protects the right of victims of environmental injustice to receive full compensation and reparations for damages as well as quality health care.

  10. Environmental justice considers governmental acts of environmental injustice a violation of international law, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, and the United Nations Convention on Genocide.

  11. Environmental justice must recognize a special legal and natural relationship of indigenous people and the government through treaties, agreements, compacts, and covenants affirming sovereignty and self-determination.

  12. Environmental justice affirms the need for urban and rural ecological policies to clean up and rebuild our cities and rural areas in balance with nature, honoring the cultural integrity of all our communities, and providing fair access for all to the full range of resources.

  13. Environmental justice calls for the strict enforcement of principles of informed consent, and a halt to the testing of experimental reproductive and medical procedures and vaccinations on people of color.

  14. Environmental justice opposes the destructive operations of multinational corporations.

  15. Environmental justice opposes military occupation, repression and exploitation of lands, peoples and cultures, and other life forms.

  16. Environmental justice calls for the education of present and future generations which emphasizes social and environmental issues, based on our experience and an appreciation of our diverse cultural perspectives.

  17. Environmental justice requires that we, as individuals, make personal and consumer choices to consume as little of Mother Earth’s resources and to produce as little waste as possible; and make the conscious decision to challenge and reprioritize our lifestyles to ensure the health of the natural world for present and future generations.

Sustainability, not Enough

The goals of dealing effectively with the tragedy of the commons and environmental justice is the attainment of sustainable living conditions, where food and security are in place as primary human needs. Based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the basic needs are physiological needs such as food, water, warmth, and rest, then comes security needs. The human need theory explained that all humans have certain basic universal needs and when these are not met, conflict is likely to occur. The provision of these needs is a must, so much so, they must be sustained.


Sustainability describes a form of economy and society that is lasting and can be lived on a global scale. The society-changing potential of the claim, Ekard once said 'More justice between generations, more global justice – at the same time' faces the peril of getting out sight. But sustainability alone is not an adequate goal. What we need are regenerative cultures. Sustainability does not tell us what we are actually trying to sustain rather tells us to sustain underlying pattern of health, resilience and adaptability to maintain a good living condition (Wahl, 2018).


A regenerative human culture is healthy, resilient and adaptable. It cares for the planet and it cares for life in the awareness that this is the most effective way to create a thriving future for all of humanity. The concept of resilience is closely related to health, as it describes the ability to recover basic vital functions and bounce back from any kind of temporary breakdown or crisis. When we aim for sustainability from a systemic perspective, we are trying to sustain the pattern that connects and strengthens the whole system. Sustainability is first and foremost about systemic health and resilience at different scales, from local, to regional and global (Wahl, 2016).

Resilience Outmoded


Human beings are vulnerable and fragile. Even with our progress of technology that capacitated our human actions and advanced our interests in the ecosystem, it is still unknown when and how disasters will strike. Our vulnerabilities have been proven many times with our encounters from disasters brought about by typhoons, floods, war, earthquakes, famine, pandemic, and other misfortunes.


From these experiences, we are able to conceptualized approaches in handling disasters or crisis in the form of resiliency. Resiliency is about anticipating, planning and reducing disaster risk to effectively protect persons, communities and countries, their livelihoods, health, cultural heritage, socio-economic assets and ecosystems. It carries the ideas of ‘bouncing back’ or ‘build back better’ from a disaster or crisis. Essentially, to be resilient, we should realize the following components and goals:

  1. Robustness – the ability to withstand disturbances and crises. This involves regular checks to ensure that measures in place will deliver expected outputs during disturbances.

  2. Redundancy – having the excess capacity and back-up systems that enables the maintenance of the core functionality in the event of disturbances. It behooves the institutions of a policy designed to cover diverse scenarios through a series of fail safes.

  3. Resourcefulness – the ability to adapt and respond flexibly when possible. For systems it requires a level of flexibility, individually and collectively it presupposes an inherent capability to self-organize and find solutions to unanticipated challenges.

  4. Response – the ability to mobilize quickly for organizations or individually, and to rise up to action without delay.

  5. Coping – the ability to flourish in the face of disaster risk.

  6. Recovery – the ability to regain a degree of normalcy after a crises or disaster.

Resiliency is an approach founded around a role, a place or a thing - who will do what, where will something be done, and what things are in a resilience plan. The concept is ingrained solely in planning, processes, procedures, systems and recovery, which are essentially established to avoid the mistakes of the past. The intended outcome is recovery or the restoration of the situation back to its original state prior to the event. This is why resiliency, as a concept is outdated, and a reactive approach. Under this concept, to withstand crises, it must first happen before resiliency can foster. Therefore, it is limited only in predictable things in a scripted plan calculated to promote a "one size fits all" concept that could cause discretion in decision making.

From Resiliency to Presiliency


Given the scale and pace of significant events we have seen happening, driven by climate change and an increased global movement of people, there is a need to get better at responding to what is unfolding and not just concentrating on avoiding the mistakes of the past.


Presilience is a new concept with the same purpose of serving and managing things accordingly. Presilience is a strategic security mindset involving flexibility and adaptability in responding to incidents of the future. It is a proactive approach built on risk intelligence, founded on a robust approach to vigilance, situational awareness, practical sense and meaning-making. The application of human inherited social skills based on intuition and capabilities to be adaptable, flexible, and agile in response to any crisis is the concept of presilience.


Away from the idea of planning alone, presilience will focus on individual skills to create timely plans and real-time decision-making skills. Under this idea, if presilience is applied, people will act out of positive intuition, work on the level of critical thinking, and react based on risks to create high awareness without relying on a pre-scripted plan.


It is in presilience where adaptive innovation and agility live. It is here where risk intelligence is applied “beyond risk management” or “from risk to opportunity”. Risk Intelligence is a set of living skills, applied attributes and behaviors, that are frequently practiced, enabling effective decision making to manage potentially negative outcomes and capitalize on opportunities. It enables better decision making and incorporates agility and resilience to proactively embrace opportunity and manage negative outcomes.

Maximum Sustainability


In population ecology and economics, maximum sustainable yield is, theoretically, the largest yield that can be learned from a species' stock over an indefinite point. The continuous provision and presence of our human needs and a prolonged living condition characterized by happiness is the long-term goal of maximum sustainability.


The formula is Security + Safety + Resiliency + Presiliency = Maximum Sustainability. When these elements are mixed into the ecosystem, it ensures maximum sustainability among societies. Embedded within these processes are policies of government agencies, instrumentalities including private entities.


In human organizations, the security and safety standards and procedures are incorporated for strategic security posture which an organization wishes to take. These standards and procedures become part of their organizational commitment in compliance with regulatory requirements, stakeholder expectations as well as an essential component to maintain competitiveness in the industry.

Organizational resiliency is contingent upon the proper implementation of these components. The practice of presilience such as mixing risk intelligence, innovation and creativity on built-in mode to the systems and processes will lead to the collective sustainability of an enterprise at a maximum point.


As a whole it addresses a host of issues tangible and intangible, it brings to the fore, a clinical analysis of an organization’s weakness and strengths, identifies emerging threats and provides solutions on how to resist, bounce back and recover even better. The outcomes of this analysis are expressed through a series of matrix, assessment methods which arrives to undeniable empirical data which will guide decision makers in steering their organizations towards accomplishment of its ends and ensuring organizational survival in the face of adversity. The overall goal with the presence of all of these parts makes one firm with a comprehensive posture to self-realization – the most eminent human need based on the Maslow’s hierarchy of demands.

On the individual level, there is much to be valued when these factors are considered. It behooves a healthy appreciation of the importance of security in the conduct of our daily affairs. It even provides a new way of looking upon things in our environment, human activities and natural events.


Resiliency and presiliency, although it presupposes a role assigned at a higher echelon of management, concerning decision making, requires a trained mind - one that is capable to discern and look into the organization as a whole. It must be assisted by a collective thought processes through crafting of plans, in executing plans, adapting to changes, transcending organizational weakness and correct past mistakes, and generating new ideas. These systems and methods adopted by organizations are powerful tools that ensure organizations protection from foreseen and unforeseen events. Much like utilities, they provide the means by which an organization continues to operate. These contain a total bundle of what an organization ought to be.

Adversity Quotient and Building Regenerative Culture

To add value and to warrant that the ecosystem remain accurate to what it expected to deliver, the contribution of the human element that must bring with it a superior degree of Adversity Quotient (AQ) – man’s ability to handle adversities of life and the capacity of the mind to command other parts of the body to act and does not fall short of what is demanded when it matters the most. AQ lies at the epicenter of human capacity and ability to thrive. It is used for enhancing human and organizational performance. It is scientifically use by the individuals and organizations to measure and strengthen response to adversities.

On regenerative culture, Extinction Rebellion (XR), a global environmental movement, states that regenerative culture is the concept of being well and healthy, resilient and adaptable. It is about our relationship with ourselves, other people and the entire ecosystem. It includes a healthy focus on mutually supporting categories involving the following:

  1. Self-Care – how we take care of our own needs and personal recovery from a toxic system.

  2. Action Care – how we take care of each other while we undertake direct actions and civil disobedience together.

  3. Interpersonal Care – how we take care of the relationships we have, being mindful of how we affect each other, taking charge of our side of relationships.

  4. Community Care – how we take care of our development as a network and community, strengthening our connections and adherence to these principles and values.

  5. People and Planet care – how we look after our wider communities and the earth that sustains us all.

Regenerative culture transforms the ways in which we organize and, in turn, the organizing transforms us. Creating regenerative culture reminds and challenges us to put care, connection, and wisdom at the heart of everything we do. In essence, the objective of man is to live happily secured.

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Resources and References:

  • Andreotta, MR (2019), Environmental Justice, via ScienceDirect.com

  • Brusseau, et.al (2019), Environmental and Pollution Science, Elsevier Inc.

  • Wikipedia, Free Online Encyclopedia, Disaster Risk Reduction

  • Manwong, RK (2020), From Resiliency to Presiliency, BooksGunsCoffee via pccmleaps.org

  • Schneider & Mcguirk (2020), The Move Towards Presilience, via https://www.ifsecglobal.com/

  • UNISDR (2009), Terminology on Disaster Risk Reduction, Geneva, Switzerland

  • Walh, DC (2016), Designing Regenerative Cultures, Triarchy Press Ltd

  • Walh, DC (2018), Sustainability is Not Enough, We Need Regenerative Culture, Insure Intelligence via resilience.org

  • https://riskviews.wordpress.com/

  • https://ausrebellion.earth/docs/Regen101.pdf

  • https://youmatter.world/en/definition/definitions-sustainability-definition-examples-principles/

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