Toward a Sustainable Circular Economy Powered by Community-Based Incentive Systems

  • Marcus M. DappEmail author


Globalization has brought much progress and better standards of living to many people and countries. Our societies and economies are much more interconnected than any previous time in history. These networks are much harder to control than in the past; the unrestricted operation of a globalized industry has created a series of ecological and social crises. How should we tackle this web of interdependent complex crises and address some of the fundamental challenges humanity faces? The sustainability challenges we are witnessing are rooted in a misaligned incentive system that does not take into account the ecological and human capital which the economic system depends upon and needs for its very existence. We propose to modify the economic system itself by systematically including externalities and making them tradable on markets. Using insights from complexity science, we propose a new system which would motivate people to act more sustainably, while remaining decentralized, self-organizing, multi-layered, and circular. With the advent of recent breakthroughs in blockchain technology, but also the “Internet of Things”, and artificial intelligence, it is possible to create such decentralized incentive systems. We describe the core concepts and processes of such a design, discuss some architectural consideration, and conclude by exploring challenging and beneficial implications of its implementation.


Cryptoeconomics Sustainability Decentralization Circular economy Self-organization 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Computational Social ScienceETH ZürichZürichSwitzerland

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