For biomimicry in the service of life.
The current success of biomimicry can only make us happy. It has taken a great deal of education to go from a few pioneers to the current craze in 10 years! Biomimicry is now convincing as many people as possible, from the general public to companies, not forgetting institutions. This in itself is great news.
However, it is clear that biomimicry is still a work in progress, as are the actors who have promoted it so far. Similarly, it remains a plural concept, likely to be based on worldviews that are not necessarily always compatible with each other. The terms abound: biomimicry, bio-inspiration, bionics, bio-assistance, eco-mimicry, eco-inspiration, etc. They should be accepted for what they are: attempts to momentarily crystallise concepts in adjustment in an evolving landscape.
But never mind the semantic debate: because the current craze is only a milestone, and not the end of the biomimicry approach, we feel it is useful to take a step back and think about where our efforts should be focused.
Because nothing makes sense outside of its context, let us recall the broad scientific consensus that alerts us to the crises of biodiversity and climate, both of which reinforce each other to the point of threatening the living conditions of humanity in the near future. Faced with this emergency, the actors of biomimicry should focus on this single goal: to mobilise knowledge of living organisms to bring about solutions that are not only sustainable, but also regenerative and create the conditions for a desirable future.
This necessity is based on a conviction: biomimicry bears the seeds not only of solutions to our current problems, but also of a new collective imagination based on wonder at the abundance and ingenuity of life forms. Let us therefore acknowledge our deep interdependence with biodiversity in order to make possible the emergence of a new ethic capable of guiding our relations with non-human life. This will involve, in particular, the equitable sharing of resources and space, respect, acceptance of all forms of diversity and the non-reducibility of living things to any form of utilitarianism.
Having appeared 3.8 billion years ago, life has constantly perpetuated itself, diversified and adapted to multiple and often extreme conditions. Today, each species that disappears means that our horizon shrinks. It is one less source of inspiration for solutions to the challenges we face.
Let us make no mistake about it: if each species contributes, by its very presence and activities, to modifying its environment, it does so within the framework of a long evolutionary history integrating thermodynamic constraints, in the subtle balance governing the global dynamics of living beings. The question we must therefore ask ourselves is the impact of our activities, projects and innovations. Will they be destructive or will they contribute to the resilience and adaptability of terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems? This question must guide us. Whether we see it as an ethical approach or simple common sense, it is essential that any biomimetic reflection include the requirement of a fair return to biodiversity.
In summary, to guide us in these questions, we propose three principles:
The first is to recall that biomimicry is by nature a multidisciplinary approach. It implies confronting one's knowledge with that of others and learning to cooperate in mutual respect. Implementing biomimicry is already a biomimetic approach!
The second is to anchor ourselves in social realities to question our solutions. In what way are they likely to challenge convictions, beliefs or simply habits? We must not only be pedagogical: we must learn to listen and take into account other knowledge. In this respect, biomimicry bears the seeds of a new dialogue between science, technology and society, the lack of which in the past has had so many harmful consequences.
The third principle, which is essential, is that biomimicry must be contributive. It is no longer acceptable today for the skills of biomimicists to be mobilised for missions other than providing concrete and synergistic responses to current systemic crises. If it is not to lose all credit and disappear as quickly as it appeared, biomimicry must be put at the service of the transition to a decarbonised and regenerative economy, of an agriculture that respects the cycles of living organisms and contributes to the restoration of soils, water quality and the atmosphere, as well as to a differentiated development of territories capable of accommodating all diversities.
Our conviction is that biomimicry means acting through, with and for living things.
Editor : Emmanuel Delannoy, Pikaia
Co-authors (in alphabetical order) :
Paul Boulanger, Pikaia
Tarik Chekchak, Institute of Desirable Futures
Guillian Graves, Big Bang Project
Kalina Raskin, Ceebios
Alain Renaudin, NewCorp Conseil