A zoöp is an organisation whose board includes a representative for the voices and interests of non-human life. The zoöp model consists of several interlocking parts.
The zoöp is based on the premise that the global climate crisis and ecological devastation are the effects of an economic system that has systematically put human interests above non-human interests: zoöps strengthen the position of non-humans within human societies, stimulate ecological regeneration or quality of life for multispecies communities (that include humans) and counter extractivist dynamics.
How does the Zoöp model work?
The zoöp model consists of three ‘entities’ with their own specific roles and responsibilities: the Zoönomic Institute, the Zoönomic Foundation and zoöps. Zoöps are organisations that want to contribute to ecological regeneration by making the interests of non-human life part of their organisational decision making. An organisation receives the zoöp licence by assigning a Board Observer Seat to the Zoönomic Foundation, performing a baseline assessment and by committing to the Zoönomic Annual Cycle.
The Zoönomic Foundation has laid down in its statutes that its sole task is to represent the voice of non-human life in the operational sphere of Zoöps. The foundation performs this task by delegating so-called Speakers for the Living. These delegates are independent regeneration experts who translate the interests of non-human life into the operational decisions of the zoöps. In this way, the zoöp model anchors the realisation of ecological regeneration within an organisation in a robust way, without changing its existing goals. A school remains a school, a housing association remains a housing association, a hotel remains a hotel. The goal of ecological regeneration is added to this. The experts focus exclusively on topics directly related to ecological regeneration; there is a contractual relationship, they have no control over other matters.
The Zoönomic Institute forms the root system of the broader Zoönomic Movement: a growing, thriving and vibrant network of zoöps that collaborate and fluidly share knowledge. The Zoönomic Institute supports all zoöps and the Zoönomic Foundation with knowledge and expertise. The Institute also arranges the certification, and thus licenses the use of the zoöp name and logo.
The Zoöp model operates on the basis of a set of shared values:
- Equality: Human and more-than-human life learn to cooperate on the basis of equality.
- Collective work, mutual support: zoöps are not on their own. They actively seek collaborations to work out answers to the questions involved in developing a regenerative economy, with other zoöps and other organisational bodies.
- Generosity and gratitude are guiding principles. If more can be done or more can be given, then aim to do so.
- Trust: zoöps work on relations of trust that are based on their collective effort, shared values and visions.
- Multiple perspectives and ongoing learning: Answers are only answers if they include multiple perspectives. Zoöps are committed to keep learning how to include new perspectives and new kinds of knowledge in their zoönomic work.
To becomes a zoöp, an organisation starts by doing a 'baseline assessment' of the entire ecological situation within its spatial and operational domain. The baseline assessment also includes economic relationships, social dimensions and legal conditions.
A zoöp then sets specific goals for ecological regeneration from year to year. The zoöp uses transparent instruments and methods to measure, represent and communicate its ecological achievements. Not just for itself and the institute and foundation, but for other zoöps and the ‘outside’ world as well. The starting situation is different for every Zoöp and the goals can therefore also be different. Realising a green roof could be the first goal of a zoöp, or the removal of asphalt or tiles. It could also be that the ecological urgencies lie at a completely different level, for example in organising collaboration between different stakeholders. Every zoöp is a zoöp in its own way. Ecological regeneration is a long-term process and can only be achieved by breaking this down into smaller, realistically achievable steps per zoöp. Setting the bar too high is demotivating and pointless.
This baseline assessment makes it possible for each zoöp to start from its own, unique starting position. This lowers the threshold for companies and organisations to participate. After all, very different interventions are suitable for an industrial area and for a farm. At the same time, this analysis can provide information that may be relevant to other zoöps. Because although every zoöp is unique, there are always dimensions that are not unique. In this way, uniquely situated knowledge and information can be used for more generic knowledge development.