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CBSR 10th Annual Summit Closing Keynote - Dr. Dayna Baumeister: A Primer to Biomimicry

SOURCE: Canadian Business for Social Responsibility (CBSR)


The afternoon Keynote speaker, Dr. Dayna Baumeister, inspired the CBSR Summit’s delegates with a concept many of us have not yet been exposed to – Biomimicry –  defined as a conscious effort to emulate nature’s genius. Giving an entire new meaning to the expression, ‘ thinking outside the box’, Dr. Baumeister revealed the boundless possibilities found within the natural world that could help solve business challenges and challenges of survival. Fascinatingly, biomimicry offers a myriad of opportunities to realizing sustainable development goals.

Dr. Baumeister illustrated to us a time horizon of only five minutes representing how long humans have been occupying the planet compared with life that has been evolving and perfecting its’ processes for 3.8 billion years. Many of our inventions and discoveries have been in fact in application by the millions of species, who have been residing on earth and successfully adapting to changes much longer than we have. Interestingly, the fundamental principle that underpins the species that have succeeded for millennia is that each creates conditions conducive to life. Dr. Baumeister emphasized this principle as a key success factor in nature’s models which applies to the long term success of any kind – including that of business.  

In seeking ways to execute corporate visions, what many corporate leaders fail to consider is the time tested experience and research found in the natural world. Dr. Baumeister encouraged businesses to look to the natural world for advice on executing visions, operational models, design or processes.

The delegates were amazed by some of the fascinating examples we learned about – where the natural world inspired solutions to a wide range of business challenges – demonstrated through practical applications adopted by businesses from around the globe. Such examples are: 

  • Designing ‘hour-glass’ filters for desalination purposes after examining living cells on a molecular level to discover how this shape enables optimum permeability.
  • Using limestone to sequester carbon dioxide emissions to create an input to concrete production, inspired by how proficiently coral reefs sequester carbon emissions and grow.
  • Creating a ‘web’ pattern on windows to mirror the fibres that reflect UV light in forests enabling birds to navigate (this prevents birds from colliding with conventional windows that do not reflect UV light). 

Regardless of whether we are seeking a solution to a design or process challenge, the principles, models and laws inherent in the natural world can provide a wealth of inspiration, brilliance, and the key to solving problems that nature might just have answers to.  

Some of those principles include: Create conditions conducive to life; Honour interconnectedness; Optimize in all aspects while maximize in none; Be locally attuned and responsive; Be resource (material and energy effective); Use life-friendly chemistry; Integrate growth with development; and co-evolve to survive. 

Ultimately, business success is contingent on adaptation and responding to external changes, efficiency, and organization of people working towards a common goal to enable long-term survival.  Nature has triumphed here for longer than any business, perhaps it’s time to emulate some of these practices?

Tweet me: Be inspired by Dr. Dayna Baumeister, @BiomimicryInst keynote presented at #CBSRSummit10 on #biomimicry. Summary here:

KEYWORDS: Canadian Business, cbsr, 10th, Annual, summit, Dr. Dayna Baumeister, biomimicry, Keynote, csr, design, Nature, Biomimicry 3.8, sustainability


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