Planetary Pledge Pyramid

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The unsustainable geometric progression of a classic pyramid scheme

The world is approaching an environmental tipping point. The collective decisions we make now will lead us down one of a few potential paths, either to catastrophe, or to a more responsible, sustainable future. But how do we make those decisions? Consensually as a community? Or by delegating responsibility to governments? Eco-dictators? Or do we allow environmental catastrophe and desperation to make the decisions for us?



The People Speak are developing a new way of having large-scale discussions about complex questions, then making collective decisions about our future: the Planetary Pledge Pyramid.

A pyramid scheme is a non-sustainable business model that involves the exchange of money primarily for enrolling other people into the scheme, often without any product or service being delivered. It's an old scam. from MySociety

But what if the geometric growth of the pyramid scheme was used to recruit over 2 billion people to make a pledge of over £10 billion in cash and a commitment to saving the environment?

The Planetary Pledge Pyramid will recruit a vast network of pledgers to discuss, report on and illustrate their suggestions and ideas. After 13 weeks, the Pyramid will conclude with The People Speak's Who Wants to Be..? decision-making game-show, to decide how to spend the pledged cash.

The Planetary Pledge Pyramid will prototype forms of collective governance for a sustainable future.

Voters at Who Wants to Be III, Nov 2008


I am recruiting you to join a world-wide people's pyramid scheme to save the planet from environmental catastrophe, and have fun doing it.

If you recruit 5 people this week, and they recruit 5 next week, by December the entire population of the world will be on board. And if everyone who can afford to pledges 5 euros each, and commits to a shared goal, the pyramid scheme will have the ability to change anything.

And what happens to all the money and power?

That is up to the pyramid. Along with your pledge, the pyramid invites your ideas, suggestions, hopes, and inspiration. If you could ask everyone to do something to save the planet, what would it be?

At the COP15 climate summit in Copenhagen in December 2009, all the ideas will be discussed by the public around the Talkaoke table on street corners, in shopping centres, parks, and schools, and spread around the world via social networking sites and news media.

Finally, people will gather in a Copenhagen theatre for a dramatic, democratic, decision-making game-show where they will be able to share ideas, consult Internet participants, and vote on the collective action.


  • Week1: We run a workshop with 6 participants to start the discussion about what we can do for the environment. Each participant pledges to invite 6 friends to the next session, and donate a fiver.
    • After this workshop, we create some videos, illustrating ideas and future scenarios to be distributed via social networks to recruit for the next workshop.
  • Week2: We run a Talkaoke session for 36 participants, where ideas develop further, and more people pledge to recruit 6 friends.
    • More viral/network media production is made to spread the ideas further
  • Week 3: A large-scale Open Space event for at least 216 participants is run, to flesh out suggestions from previous weeks.
    • Viral media production, as before
  • Week 4: Discussions (among the 1296 participants) move on-line, although a live event (with Talkaoke) is still run weekly.
    • Viral media production, and a press/publicity drive to get to the next tier (7776 participants)
  • Week 5: With nearly 8000 participants, the discussion will have to be diffused through social networking sites, at this point, we start to rely on mainstream media to carry the message further.
    • Recruitment of media producers to continue illustrating and expanding on people's ideas for how to spend the £38,880 currently in the collective kitty.
  • Weeks 6 - 12: continue this progression into unknown territory. By week 12 we ought to have over 2 billion people involved.
  • Week 13: In a tumult of worldwide publicity, we host a Who Wants to Be event for the first 400 people to buy tickets.
    • The purpose of this event is to decide what to do with the £10,883,911,680 pledged to the pyramid.

PPP Recruitment

A large part of the success of the Planetary Plege Pyramid will depend on recruiting enough people to generate a significant budget.

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