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First published on Local Futures website

Imagine a world where food routinely gets shipped thousands of miles away to be processed, then shipped back to be sold right where it started. Imagine cows from Mexicobeing fed corn imported from the United States, then being exported to the United States for butchering, and the resulting meat being shipped back to Mexico, one last time, to be sold. Imagine a world in which, in most years since 2005, China has somehow managed to import more goods from itself than from the USA, one of its largest trading partners.

This may sound like the premise of some darkly comic, faintly dystopian film – albeit one geared towards policy wonks. But it’s no joke – in fact, it is the daily reality of the global economy.

The above examples are all instances of ‘re-importation’ – that is, countries shipping their own goods overseas only to ship them back again at a later stage in the production chain. And these are far from the only instances of this head-scratching phenomenon. In the waters off the coast of Norway, cod arrive every year after an impressive migratory journey, having swum thousands of miles around the Arctic Circle in search of spawning grounds. Yet this migration pales in comparison to the one the fish undertake after being caught: they’re sent to China to be fileted before returning to supermarkets in Scandinavia to be sold. This globalization of the seafood supply chain extends to the US as well; more than half of the seafood caught in Alaska is processed in China, and much of it gets sent right back to American grocery store shelves.

Compounding the insanity of re-importation is the equally baffling phenomenon of redundant trade. This is a common practice whereby countries both import and export huge quantities of identical products in a given year. To take a particularly striking example, in 2007, Britain imported 15,000 tons of chocolate-covered waffles, while exporting 14,000 tons. In 2017, the US both imported and exported nearly 1.5 million tons of beef, and nearly half a million tons of potatoes. In 2016, 213,000 tons of liquid milk arrived in the UK – a windfall, had not 545,000 tons of milk also left the UK over the course of that same year.

On the face of it, this kind of trade makes no economic sense. Why would it be worth the immense cost – in money as well as fuel – of sending perfectly good food abroad only to bring it right back again?

The answer lies in the way the global economy is structured. ‘Free trade’ agreements allow transnational corporations to access labor and resources almost anywhere, enabling them to take advantage of tax loopholes and national differences in labor and environmental standards. Meanwhile, direct and indirect subsidies for fossil fuels, on the order of $5 trillion per year worldwide, allow the costs of shipping to be largely borne by taxpayers and the environment instead of the businesses that actually engage in it. In combination, these structural forces lead to insane levels of international transport that serve no purpose other than boosting corporate profits.

The consequences of this bad behavior are already severe, and set to become worse in the coming decades. Small farmers, particularly in the global South, have seen their livelihoods undermined by influxes of cheap food from abroad; meanwhile, their climate-resilient agricultural practices are actively discouraged by the WTO and ‘free trade’ agreements. And food processing and packaging – both critical for food that’s going to be shipped a long way from where it was produced – account for a significant proportion of the global food system’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Food is not the only product that accrues unnecessary miles of shipping. The components of a typical smartphone, for example, have traveled a collective half-million miles – touching down on three continents – before landing in your pocket. This kind of excessive trade is why carbon emissions from international transport are growing nearly three times faster than emissions from other sources. At current rates of growth, international trade by sea and air will, by 2050, emit about as much CO2 as the entire European Union does today.

The link between liberalized trade policies and carbon emissions is clear and straightforward: A recent study from Japan’s Kyushu University found that when countries reduce or eliminate their tariffs – particularly on resource-intensive industries like mining and manufacturing – they see corresponding increases in the amount of carbon emissions associated with imported goods.

What this means is that if we’re going to effectively combat the climate crisis, we’ll have to pay attention to trade policy. Specifically, we’ll need to change it so that unrestricted, unlimited ‘free trade’ is no longer an option. But policymakers currently have little incentive to reduce international trade because, bizarrely, emissions from global trade do not appear in any nation’s carbon accounting. There are plenty of ways to fix this – for example, emissions from trade could be assigned to countries on the basis of where goods start out, where they end up, or where the ships and planes transporting them are registered. All that countries would have to do is agree on a standard. But at the moment no country is assigned responsibility for these floating emissions. The result is a situation in which policymakers promise to reduce carbon emissions while simultaneously working to expand global trade – even though these two goals are wholly incompatible.

If policymakers continue to drag their feet, the impetus for real change in the way we conduct global trade will have to come from peoples’ movements working together to make their voices heard. We must call for an end to the deregulatory ‘free trade’ and tax policies that make practices like re-importation and redundant trade profitable. One of the most critical steps towards sanity would be the removal of subsidies for fossil fuels. When taxpayers stop paying part of the cost of global transport, transnational corporations will have to radically reconsider the way they operate.

These changes will be vigorously opposed by big global businesses, which means that generating momentum for trade policies that promote community health and ecological stability won’t happen overnight. But the first step is raising awareness of trade as a climate issue, and overcoming the unwillingness of most major media outlets, politicians, and think-tanks to discussit critically.

To that end, Local Futures has released a new factsheet and tongue-in-cheek short film on ‘insane trade’ and its consequences. We hope they can help draw attention to the absurdity of the current system, point to healthier alternatives, and make the issue of global trade approachable and understandable for a wide audience. So please, share them with people you know, and start a conversation around this critical topic.

Back in January, Rethinking Economics and Doughnut Economics got together and launched a competition based on the ‘seven ways to think like a 21st century economist’ set out in Kate Raworth’s book Doughnut Economics. The challenge that they threw down was this:

The judges were amazed and delighted to receive over 250 entries across three categories – schools, universities, and everyone else – covering a very wide range of themes. You can find out more about all 250 ideas and what happens next with them on the Doughnut Economics site here.

And the winners are…

‘Everyone Else’ winner – (WEAll member!) On Purpose with their short video ‘From Business Case to Systems Case’
School winner – Presence Tse with her video ‘From Division of Labour to Cohesive Partnership’
University winner – James Legg-Bagg with his video ‘Legal Rights for Nature’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-DZfl9pwUM&feature=youtu.be

WEAll’s Chair Stewart Wallis is a proud signatory of an open letter this week in The Guardian, calling for the next Bank of England Governor to serve the whole of society.

Stewart’s endorsement comes alongside that of 94 other leaders inlcuding many WEAll members, Ambassadors and friends.

See the whole letter below and in the Guardian here.

“94 academics and representatives of civil society organisations call for Mark Carney’s successor to be someone who will foster a pluralistic policymaking culture
Mark Carney
 ‘The next governor must build on Mark Carney’s legacy,’ say the signatories to this letter. Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA

Eleven o’clock on Wednesday evening is the deadline for applicants to put themselves forward to be the next governor of the Bank of England. Candidates are asked to commit to an eight-year term lasting until 2028. By then the world will be a very different place. Three key trends will shape their time in post.

First, environmental breakdown is the biggest threat facing the planet. The next governor must build on Mark Carney’s legacy, and go even further to act on the Bank’s warnings by accelerating the transition of finance away from risky fossil fuels. Second, rising inequality, fuelled to a significant extent by monetary policy, has contributed to a crisis of trust in our institutions. The next governor must be open and honest about the trade-offs the Bank is forced to make, and take a critical view of how its policies impact on wider society. Third, the UK economy is increasingly unbalanced and skewed towards asset price inflation. Banks pour money into bidding up the value of pre-existing assets, with only £1 in every £10 they lend supporting non-financial firms. The next governor must seriously consider introducing measures to guide credit away from speculation towards productive activities.

As the world around it changes, the function of the Bank itself must evolve. Its current mandate and tools are increasingly coming into question, and a future government may assign the Bank with a new mission. The next governor must meet this with an open mind, not seek to preserve the status quo. To equip the Bank to meet the challenges of the future, the new governor will also need to ensure it benefits from a greater diversity of backgrounds, experience and perspectives throughout the organisation. The Bank of England’s own stated purpose is to promote the good of the people. We need a governor genuinely committed to serving the whole of society, not just financial markets.

Fran Boait Positive Money
Josh Ryan-Collins UCL IIPP
John Sauven Greenpeace UK
Tom Kibasi IPPR
Craig Bennett Friends of the Earth (England, Wales & Northern Ireland)
Will Hutton Author and academic
Patrick Allen Progressive Economy Forum
Faiza Shaheen Class
Ann Pettifor Prime Economics
Kate Raworth University of Oxford
Christopher Pissarides London School of Economics
Yanis Varoufakis University of Athens
Prem Sikka University of Sheffield
Danny Dorling University of Oxford
Asad Rehman War on Want
Guy Standing Soas
David Hillman Stamp Out Poverty
Catherine Howarth ShareAction
Maeve Cohen Rethinking Economics
Jonathan Michie University of Oxford
Natalie Sharples Health Poverty Action
Joe Guinan The Democracy Collaborative
Nick Dearden Global Justice Now
Steve Keen UCL Institute for Strategy, Resilience & Security
Jason Hickel Goldsmiths, University of London
Tony Greenham Royal Society of Arts
Johnna Montgomerie Kings College London
John Weeks Soas
Frances Coppola Financial commentator and author
Dimitri Zenghelis Cambridge University
Rick Van Der Ploeg University of Oxford
Molly Scott Cato University of Roehampton
Ben Carpenter Social Value UK
Philippe Aghion London School of Economics
Felix Fitzroy St Andrews
Marianne Sensier University of Manchester
Christine Cooper University of Edinburgh
Elisa Van Waeyenberge Soas
Roberto Veneziani Queen Mary University of London
Andrew Denis City University
Stewart Lansley University of Bristol
Dimitris Sotiropoulos Open University UK
Ulrich Volz Soas
Panicos Demetriades University of Leicester
Maria Nikolaidi University of Greenwich
Julia Steinberger University of Leeds
Sue Konzelmann Birkbeck University
Roger Seifert Wolverhampton Business School
Ozlem Onaran University of Greenwich
Neil Lancastle De Monfort University
Yannis Dafermos University of the West of England
Alberto Botta University of Greenwich
David Tyfield Lancaster University
Kate Pickett University of York
Philip Haynes University of Brighton
Richard Wilkinson University of Nottingham
Peter Sweatman Climate Strategy & Partners
David Graeber LSE
Richard Murphy City University
John Christensen Tax Justice UK
Anna Laycock Finance Innovation Lab
Colin Hines Green New Deal Group
Sarah-Jayne Clifton Jubilee Debt Campaign
Line Christensen Jubilee Scotland
Stewart Wallis Wellbeing Economy Alliance
Benjamin Braun Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies (MPIfG)
Fiona Dove The Transnational Institute
Annelise Riles Buffett Institute for Global Studies
Ellen Brown Public Banking Institute
Johan Frijns Banktrack
Benoît Lallemand Finance Watch
Joshua Farley International Society for Ecological Economics
Ole Bjerg Copenhagen Business School
Stephany Griffith-Jones Columbia University
David Boyle The New Weather Institute
Mark Blyth Brown University
Bernard Barthalay Université Lumière (Lyon)
Giorgos Kallis Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Jean-Marc Ferry Alliance Europa
Joseph Huber Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg
Ladislau Dowbor Catholic University of São Paulo
Livio Di Matteo Lakehead University
Marc Lavoie University of Ottawa
Mark Sanders Utrecht University
Sergio Rossi University of Fribourg, Switzerland
Michel Lepetit The Shift Project
Dirk Ehnts Technical University of Chemnitz
Johann Walter Westfälische Hochschule Gelsenkirchen
Steven Hail University of Adelaide
Ludovic Desmedt University of Burgundy
Terrence McDonough National University of Ireland Galway
Rodrigo Fernandez Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO)
Jean Luc de Meulemeester The Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management”

Last week, an enthusiastic crowd in London attended the sold-out event to promote ‘The Economics of Arrival: Ideas for a grown-up economy’ by Katherine Trebeck and Jeremy Williams.

Hosted by WEAll members CUSP (the Centre for Understanding Sustainable Prosperity) and GEC (Green Economy Coalition), the event attracted academics, civil society professionals, activists, journalists and more, all keen to understand more about the need for economic system change and to engage in the debate about how we get there.

Katherine Trebeck and Jeremy Williams inspired the audience with an overview of the book’s themes and concepts. Williams explained that the concept of ‘Arrival’ is “not a promise but the possibility of having enough.” The authors argue that for many countries, there are now diminishing returns to  growth and that they ought now to focus on ‘making themselves at home’ by prioritising human and environmental wellbeing.

Trebeck made the case that our global economic system is manifestly failing to deliver – on poverty, wellbeing, health, environment, and equality. “People feel their lives are out of control. The system isn’t working,” she said.

Sharing examples such as Japan and Costa Rica to demonstrate the potential of alternative economic approaches, and ending with a positive message that economic system change is possible, the speakers certainly got the room talking with this introduction to their work.

Questions and ideas came thick and fast from those in the room who were keen to delve further into the concept of Arrival.

A panel discussion featuring Professor Tim Jackson of CUSP and Irene Gujit of Oxfam GB, as well as Trebeck and Williams, gave an opportunity for more exploration, as the room considered the different applications of the book’s concepts in the global south as well as tangible ways to build a wellbeing economy in the UK.

‘The Economics of Arrival: Ideas for a grown up economy’ is available from Policy Press here.

Watch a short video summarising the ideas in the book:

Images: Ben Martin

Are you interested in nature and in writing about nature? Do you think nature writing can help us understand more about environmental threats from habitat loss to climate change—and inspire people to take action on them? And what does ‘nature writing’ have to say about sense of place, community and the good life? Are there aspects of our relationship with our environments that nature writing has neglected?

If you’re excited by the new wave of nature writing over the past two decades, CUSP hopes you will want to submit your work as a potential contribution to a forthcoming publication: Nature Writing for the Common Good.

They’re looking for unpublished authors who can offer new perspectives on our relationships with the natural world and the ways in which these can be re-imagined, changed and sustained for the common good.

This is a project led by CUSP, the Centre for Understanding Sustainable Prosperity, an international research partnership funded by the Economic and Social Research Council—engaging people, politics, business and NGOs across the UK and beyond.

This collection of short pieces will use nature writing to explore environmental and social challenges facing Britain and the world today. It hopes to harness the power of good writing about nature to help us understand our relationship with the natural world—and to motivate change.

While nature writing is hugely popular in the UK—as a visit to most bookshops would suggest—it is also open to criticism as tending to be nostalgic, concerned mainly with certain types of landscape, and dominated by a well-established set of authors and themes—with a paucity of writers who are of colour, working class or women.

Given the vast challenges posed by climate breakdown, threats to wildlife, changes in farming, pressures of many kinds on the land, nature writing is entangled with difficult and far-reaching political, economic and social issues. We hope to see entries that engage with this complexity.

We’re looking for nature writing—from anyone yet to be published—that can open up new perspectives on the state of our relations with land, wildlife and one another, and help us to see engagement with nature, often profound and individual, as part of a ‘common good.’ We want to include a wide variety of contributors, landscapes and types of writing.

Call for entries

The competition begins on 15th April 2019 and the closing date for submissions is 17th June 2019. We welcome contributions up to 2,500 words. The genre is ‘essay’—but this can include many non-fictional approaches—including a work of reportage, a memoir—and we are looking for innovative ways of reflecting on our connections with nature, place and other creatures. The winners will be published in an open-access online collection by CUSP. We are developing plans for a later print publication and further rounds of calls, including possibly taking a selected new author to publication of their first book.

Entries will be shortlisted by Kate Oakley and Ian Christie. Our final judging panel for pieces to be included in the collection comprises well-known authors and environmental writers Madeleine BuntingJessica J LeeLouisa Adjoa ParkerRichard SmythKen Worpole and CUSP Director Tim Jackson. We look forward to your submissions!

Guidelines

  • The competition is international in scope and open to all—but essays must be written in English and unpublished for the duration of the competition.
  • We are seeking to support authors who are unpublished yet in print up to and during the competition. We especially welcome submissions from writers of disadvantaged communities. Entries are invited from all age groups.
  • The length of the essay should not exceed 2.500 words.
  • For conceptual background on New Nature Writing, please see the project introduction by Ian Christie and Kate Oakley.

Get involved here: https://www.cusp.ac.uk/themes/a/naturewriting/

WEAll Ambassador Kate Raworth has launched a competition with Rethinking Economics looking for the 8th Way to Think Like a 21st Century Economist.

Kate Raworth’s book Doughnut Economics: seven ways to think like a 21st century economist proposes seven mindset shifts to make economics fit for addressing this century’s challenges. But many other shifts are needed too so, in order to explore them, we decided to launch a competition based on this challenge:

They’ve got a fantastic panel of economic re-thinkers who are ready to review your entries and select the very best as winners. So get rethinking!

Find out more about the challenge and submit your idea here.

Deadline Friday 12 April at midnight UK time.

In February 2019, UK-based Happy City released their all-new Happiness Pulse web-app, with support from the National Lottery Community Fund.  The Happiness Pulse is a free online survey that combines a range of academic measures of wellbeing into a simple and interactive five minute survey.

For too long we have focused on a vision of progress centred on consuming more, individually and collectively, to drive ‘economic growth’.  Happy City have, for almost ten years, been at the vanguard of a movement to recalibrate this collective compass, towards the wellbeing of people, place and planet.

Much of that work is about challenging the core local conditions for people to thrive – now and in the future, via our Thriving Places Index.  But at the heart of such change we must also measure, and as the adage says, therefore ‘treasure’ what matters most – the experienced lives in our communities.  The Happiness Pulse does just that.

No longer do you need a fleet of academics to gather and understand information on the complex web of factors that most influence our capacity to thrive.  Neither do you need deep pockets, or a PhD in wellbeing.  Happy City alongside a range of academics, leading experts, local decision makers and ordinary members of the public, have done the hard work for you.

Anyone can use the Happiness Pulse to quickly gather the key information from group or groups of any size, and produce accessible data reports to guide their work, and demonstrate the impact their organisation has on people’s lives.

The Happiness Pulse measures what matters – the things that both academic research and communities themselves say matter most to their lives.  They are grouped into three easily understood domains, ‘Be, Do and Connect’, to unearth the nuance often hidden behind simple happiness or life satisfaction surveys.  Are people, feeling, behaving and connecting, in ways that are helping or hindering their capacity to thrive?  The Happiness Pulse helps really spot ways to target time and resources where they are needed most.

This new tool also supports organisations to demonstrate social impact.  Those at the coalface of work in community organisations, or workforces have long known the ripple effect that work has on people’s lives beyond simplistic economic measures – now they can demonstrate the detail of that impact in an easy, reliable and trusted way.

And importantly it gives back to those whose lives it explores. This is more than a simple survey – it instantly shares the results in really accessible and thought provoking ways to the individuals who take it, the teams who deliver it, and the leaders who commission it, helping each to take their part in the vital job of improving wellbeing.

Joseph Stiglitz wisely said that ‘If we measure the wrong things, we strive for the wrong things’.  For too long we have not valued wellbeing enough to invest in really measuring and understanding it.  The Happiness Pulse can change all that at any scale from a tiny community group or enterprise, up to a multi-national organization or an entire city.

The Happiness Pulse can help you right now, to measure, understand and improve the wellbeing of your family, your workplace, your community or your town or city.  It is designed to:

  • MEASURE: Map and track wellbeing strengths and needs to better tailor interventions to support individuals, teams and communities to thrive
  • UNDERSTAND: Evaluate the social impact and value of interventions, projects and programmes to understand the detail of works and demonstrate this to funders, staff, boards, partners and communities themselves with accessible, shareable reports.
  • IMPROVE: The easy to use dashboard helps build a picture of wellbeing changes, informing and evaluating actions, interventions and investments and easy ways to share learning.

Happy City and their partners have worked tirelessly to make this new tool practical and useful – for individuals, groups, businesses, communities and policy makers.  The basic version is entirely free to use – at any scale – to support usage across sectors and communities UK wide.  Together, users will help start shifting our collective compass to improving lives, not just lining pockets.

In addition there are a wide range of additional features that can support more in-depth understanding and more bespoke outcomes for those organisations deeply committed to building a wellbeing culture and economy where they are.

So take your Happiness Pulse today – and see how you could start improving lives – your own and those around you. Visit happinesspulse.org for more information and to sign up for your free account.

On Tuesday 26 March, WEAll Scotland teamed up with Rethinking Economics to co-host an event in Edinburgh discussing economics education and how Scotland can champion a more pluralist approach to economics.

Rethinking Economics is a WEAll member, and comprises an international network of students, academics and professionals building a better economics in society and the classroom.

The event was full of students, civil society professionals, academics and interested members of the public keen to discuss economics curriculum reform.

The panel was chaired by Ross Cathcart from Rethinking Economics, and included:

  • Gary Gillespie, Chief Economic Adviser, Scottish Government
  • Professor Robert McMaster, Professor of Political Economy, University of Glasgow
  • Lovisa Reiche, Rethinking Economics and APEG Member; Economics Student at University of Aberdeen
  • Dr. Katherine Trebeck, Research Director, Wellbeing Economy Alliance

Gary Gillespie kicked off by explaining his background as an academic economist who joined government to try to apply his economics skills to real world issues, particularly health issues in Scotland. Gary was clear that the central objective of the Scottish Government economics directorate is to improve economic and other outcomes for the people of Scotland. He said: “as an academic economist, I used to use policy to show how good the models were, not the other way around!” In later remarks, he stressed the importance of being responsive to the issues of the day, and of the need for economics and other graduates working in the public sector to be motivated by real world concerns.

Katherine Trebeck was clear that economics is at its best when it is pluralist and not “constrained by narrow bandwidths”. She re-imagined the famous Ronald Reagan quote (“the only limits to growth are the limits to our imagination”), saying that our imaginations are presently limited by fixation on growth but can go further. However, it’s not just a question of growth or no growth, but of opening minds – which the university system is particularly well placed to do. She also raised the question of elitism in economics, calling for people from a more diverse range of backgrounds to engage in the topic both as a degree subject and a career.

Robert McMaster explored the interplay between ethics and economics – which, he says, not enough economists are interested in doing. As a Professor who has taught economics at university level for a number of years, he believes that issues start on day one when students are required to focus straight away on “economic scarcity vs. unlimited wants”. He implored the audience to consider that economics, as currently taught, “tacitly condones those who wish to shape our wants”, and ignores power structures beyond market power.

Fourth year Economics undergraduate student Lovisa Reiche had the last word. In her view, economics should be about creating a system that works for as many people as possible. She said: “Economics isn’t all bad: but there are clear problems in the way it is being taught”. For Lovisa, some of the teaching has felt “artificial” and far removed from recognisable human behaviour and values. Frustrated with what she perceives to be the stripping away of relevance from the subject and profession, Lovisa and her fellow students at Aberdeen University have been campaigning for changes – from simple shifts in focus to curriculum overhaul.

The panel coalesced around the notion of the political coming back into economics – though none of them advocate losing the technical rigour of the subject. As Gary summarised, however, “what’s the point of economics if it’s not about addressing the big challenges we’re facing?”

Spirited questions from the audience continued the conversation, and it was clear that nobody wanted the discussion to end! It doesn’t have to: keep up with the work of Rethinking Economics and support the campaign for economics curriculum reform.

You can also find out more about the Scottish Government’s approach to wellbeing economics and the Wellbeing Economy Governments partnership here.

Last week, WEAll and the Amp Team Knowledge and Policy lead Katherine Trebeck were the subjects of one of the first features for Emerge. Emerge is a new independent, non-profit media platform which describes itself as “highlighting the initiatives, individuals and ways of thinking that are sowing the seeds of a new civilisation.”

The piece, entitled “Time for an upgrade: a new operating system for the global economy” outlines WEAll’s mission, as well as exploring Katherine’s life and her years of work contributing to the wellbeing economy agenda. With examples of how the wellbeing economy is already being put into practice, the feature has been garnering plenty of interest on social media already.

Read the piece here, and follow Emerge for more content like this.

Image by Robert Ormerod for Emerge

Based on the book Enough Is Enough by Rob Dietz and Dan O’Neill, this film lays out a visionary but realistic alternative to the perpetual pursuit of economic growth — an economy where the goal is enough, not more. Featuring interviews with leading sustainability thinkers such as Tim Jackson, Kate Pickett, Andrew Simms, Ben Dyson, and Natalie Bennett. Enough Is Enough is produced and directed by Tom Bliss, with illustrations by Polyp and animations by Henry Edmonds.

Find out more about Enough is Enough here.

This article was first published by New Statesman

By Sarah McKinley, Democracy Collaborative

Against a backdrop of Brexit uncertainties, Labour members this week launched a grassroots campaign urging the party to adopt a Green New Deal. Their campaign calls for an economic stimulus programme to decarbonise the economy, create green jobs in struggling regions and invest in public infrastructure. It was a welcome respite in a week of disaster news.

As one of the Labour group’s organisers told the Guardian newspaper, “climate change is fundamentally about class, because it means chaos for the many while the few profit.” Indeed, the “Green” in Green New Deal can be misleading. This isn’t just an environmental proposal, but one designed to protect peoples’ livelihoods and confront economic inequality.

The only way to address the climate crisis is to fundamentally change our current political economy – something that people including Gus Speth of the Democracy Collaborative have long argued. While partisan political rhetoric pits environmental concerns against economic growth, proposals for a Green New Deal opt instead to secure employment and confront structural inequities.

For those of us who have been working for years on economic and climate justice, it’s exciting to see these proposals capture public imagination and enter mainstream political discourse.  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Sunrise Movement have championed the Green New Deal in the US, but this set of ideas is by no means new. Since 2007 the UK’s Green New Deal Group has argued for a transition towards a clean energy future that puts job protection and human rights at its centre.

The group, whose members include economist Ann Pettifor, tax campaigner Richard Murphy and the leader of the Green Party, Caroline Lucas, first published its Green New Deal proposals in July 2008, months before the collapse of Lehman Brothers. Ten years later, after a decade of austerity and political and social upheavals, it seems the world is finally ready for their ideas.

We cannot talk about climate change as a “long-term” prospect any more: the Intergovernmental Planet on Climate Change warns that there are less than 12 years left to avert climate disaster. The world’s most vulnerable communities are already bearing the unjust brunt of environmental breakdown—as seen in post-Katrina New Orleans and post-Maria Puerto Rico and, most recently, Cyclone Idai in Africa.

Tackling the climate crisis with the kind of rehashed neoliberal tactics attempted by French President Emmanuel Macron, with his policy of “green taxes”, is a recipe for double disaster. Carbon taxes are both inadequate for addressing environmental breakdown and guaranteed to exacerbate tensions in an increasingly unequal economy. It is time to stop tinkering around the edges and present comprehensive and systemic solutions to the onset climate crisis.

Movements intent on transforming our economy have gained traction in recent years; community wealth building efforts are overhauling local economies on both sides of the Atlantic and broadening ownership of capital and resources. New networks like the Wellbeing Economy Alliance are examining alternatives to our current economic system.  These initiatives articulate a new economic paradigm that confronts inequality and encompasses nature and community, rather than merely focussing on short-term profit and GDP.

To truly address environmental breakdown, we also need wartime-levels of investment and state intervention. If the Green New Deal were to become government policy, it would represent a huge victory for pro-environmental politics and a fusion of economic and environmental justice on a scale unprecedented in Europe. It would commit governments to an economic model that put planet above profit.

Some national governments are taking tentative steps towards a new economic paradigm: New Zealand has unveiled a wellbeing budget, Finland has an Economy of Wellbeing strategy, and Scotland is convening a group of progressive governments through its Wellbeing Economy Governmentsinitiative. Wales has recently introduced a Community Wealth Building Fund, and Labour has created a Community Wealth Building Unit to support towns and cities implementing local solutions.

But electoral cycles (to say nothing of Brexit cliff-edges) do not lend themselves to tackling systemic problems. As the climate strikes of Swedish activist Greta Thunberg and other school students have shown, young people are fearful that politicians are ignoring the impending crisis. With eyes firmly fixed on the future of their planet, their protests have magnified government silence.

To confront climate change, we can’t leave it all up to politicians. We need civil society, business, local government, finance and academia to mobilise and collaborate; to cross borders and build regional and international networks and platforms. Gatherings such as the New Economy and Social Innovation (NESI) Global Forum, the World Social Forum of Transformative Economies and Ctrl+Shift in the UK provide a collaborative space to replicate local experiments.

Let’s encourage politicians to champion a just transition to a better future, but let’s not leave it all up to them. To build an economy that is appropriate for life on a finite planet, we need to listen to the young climate strikers and implement their rallying cry.

Sarah McKinley is Director of European Programs at the Democracy Collaborative.

Image: Getty Images

This blog was first published by CUSP

The last century has seen unprecedented economic and social progress for many people in many parts in the world. In light of climate change, and social and economic instability, the challenge is now to make ourselves at home with this wealth, to ensure, in the interests of equality, that everyone is included.

By KATHERINE TREBECK and JEREMY WILLIAMS

In 1890 the political economist Jean Charles de Sismondi published Nouveaux Principes dEconomie Politique. It was a powerful work of humanitarian protest against an economy that saw wealth accumulation as an end in itself. Wondering if economic expansion looms too large in the political imagination is by no means a new idea, and in the 130 odd years since de Sismondi wrote about it, the problem has only become more acute.

Financial wealth can be a major tool in human development and emancipation. The 20th century saw decades of steady growth in the industrialised world, and unprecedented economic and social progress along with it. Between the economic collapse of 1929 through to the late 1970s, growth was accompanied by policies to close the gap between rich and poor. It was a time of economic equalisation, as union rights expanded and workers enjoyed a greater share of the wealth through their wages. Women entered the workforce in large numbers, reducing gender inequality. Levels of education rose, improving job quality and raising wages for low skilled workers. Progressive tax regimes were implemented, and social welfare programmes expanded. While poverty and hardship have not been eliminated altogether in industrial economies, many people are richer, healthier and better cared for today than previous generations could ever have imagined.

Having come this far, it is troubling to consider how much of this progress is threatened by climate change, inequality, environmental decline and extreme politics. After all these gains, the next generation may see achievements slipping away. Others, still on the outside of that progress, may find the door closing on them as competition for resources and the mounting damage of climate change begin to erode gains as fast as development can proceed.

Wealthy economies still pursuing growth are like a man in an orchard with an armful of apples, who can’t stoop to pick up any more without dropping what he’s already carrying.

Of course, it’s easy to say that a country has ‘enough’ wealth and resources, but that doesn’t imply that everyone has what they need. Wealth may be distributed very poorly—the richest 10% of households in Britain own more wealth than the first eight deciles put together.

Neither does it feel like an age of prosperity. The number of people on zero hour contracts has quadrupled since the financial crisis, and earnings can feel insecure and precarious. The little victories of consumerism are short lived. Our prized possessions rapidly lose their gloss – the iPad 4 came out just eight months after the iPad 3. We’re always one more purchase away from happiness, the advertisers tell us: just a gym membership short of physical perfection, one insurance policy short of the peace of mind we long for. But satisfaction through consumption is a false promise, and it marginalises those who can’t afford to participate.

De Sismondi argued that the world needed a new set of principles for the political economy, and that remains true today. One of those principles is what we call ‘Arrival’—the possibility that GDP-rich countries can reach a point of maturity where they have enough wealth and resources to provide a good life to all their citizens. Having arrived, they can refocus from quantity to quality, ensuring that everyone is included. We call this ‘making ourselves at home’.

We would argue that many of the world’s richest nations have indeed arrived and could be considered ‘fully grown’. The task now is to pay more attention to distribution and inclusion, pursuing improvement rather than enlargement. This would not be a mythical end of progress, but the beginning of a new chapter. J M Keynes hinted at this when he described a future people who would be free to cultivate ‘the art of life’, once the ‘means of life’ had been secured. With the survival priorities taken care of, they could look to other forms of progress, such as increased leisure time, more participative democracy, or a shift from consumerism to ‘experientialism’.

Despite its historical roots, this remains a provocative idea. The forces acting against such a shift are formidable. Political success is measured in GDP growth. The economy collapses into recession and job losses without it. International institutions ascribe voting rights or places at the table on the basis of economic power. And there’s our own psychology to contend with—there is a human tendency to think of more as better, and growth as good. Keynes warned that it would be hard to adjust.

So did J K Galbraith. “To have failed to solve the problem of producing goods would have been to continue man [sic] in his oldest and most grievous misfortune” he wrote. “But to fail to see that we have solved it and fail to proceed hence to the next task would be fully as tragic.”

It would be tragic enough if society failed to notice and appreciate the abundance it already has. But it could be worse. By pursuing the goals of the 19th and 20th centuries into the 21st, despite them being ostensibly met, the economic models of developed countries may begin to undo the hard work of previous generations. To abuse that abundance, and in so doing pass on a poorer future to future generations—not to mention the ongoing injustice of so poorly sharing the benefits around the world today—constitutes a huge betrayal of the opportunities and possibilities of today’s world.

Katherine Trebeck is a researcher and member of the CUSP Advisory Committee, she works as the Policy and Knowledge Lead for the Wellbeing Economy Alliance. Jeremy Williams is a sustainability writer and activist who blogs at makewealthhistory.org. Their new book, The Economics of Arrival: Ideas for a grown-up economy, is out now from Policy Press.

Mural by Akarat (and Hoax), Bristol. Image courtesy of scooj.org, 2015

The NESI Forum 2019 takes place 24-26 April in Malaga, Spain – but the work to build a wellbeing economy together starts even sooner. Through a series of webinars with subject experts from around the world, you can participate actively in the “Discovery” phase prior to the forum and explore, learn and share about the existing solutions and early innovations that will enable us to Dream, Design and DO the change we want to see in the world, at NESI and beyond.

NESI is structured around five themes that will be explored in the webinars: The energy that powers all our activities; what we eat and how we produce it; where and how we choose to live in or work and get around; what we wear and how we access it; and where we invest and how money circulates. Across all six themes, we need radical transformation to co-create a wellbeing economy. This is what we are here to do together.

Join us in the journey by attending all or any of the available free webinars.

Use this Zoom link to join all of the webinars: https://zoom.us/j/756911946

  • Tuesday 12th March (4pm to 5pm) – Lars Mortensen speaks to us about “Textiles in a circular economy” (English)

https://www.enterticket.es/eventos/webinars-nesi-forum-textiles-in-a-circular-economy-139690

  • Wednesday 13th March (4pm to 5pm) – Johnny Azpilicueta shares his insights about “La desmaterialización de la economía: una visión holística radical” (Spanish)

https://www.enterticket.es/eventos/webinars-nesi-forum-la-desmaterializacion-de-la-economia-una-vision-holistica-ra

  • Thursday 14th March (4pm to 5pm) – Susana Martín Belmonte introduces the topic of “new financial and monetary systems to create new economies” (Spanish)

https://www.enterticket.es/eventos/webinars-nesi-forum-nuevos-sistemas-monetario-y-financiero-para-crear-nuevas-eco

  • Tuesday 19th March (3pm to 4pm) – Ana Huertas helps us understand the role of “Food sovereignty for eco-social regeneration” (English)

https://www.enterticket.es/eventos/webinars-nesi-forum-food-sovereignty-for-ecosocial-regeneration-429221

  • Wednesday 20th March (4pm to 5pm) – Benoît Lallemand invites us to discover how to “Make finance serve society” (English)

https://www.enterticket.es/eventos/webinars-nesi-forum-making-finance-serve-society-547229

  • Thursday 21st March (4pm to 5pm) – Iñaki Alonso introduces the “Treble balance architecture for new co-housing and co-working developments” (Spanish)

https://www.enterticket.es/eventos/webinars-nesi-forum-arquitectura-triple-balance-para-los-nuevos-desarrollos-de-c

  • Tuesday 26th March (4pm to 5pm) – Jonathan Schifferes  makes us reflect about “Who shapes our cities?, learning from London, Boston and Tuxtla Gutiérrez” (English)

https://www.enterticket.es/eventos/webinars-nesi-forum-who-shapes-our-cities-learning-from-london-boston-and-txutla

  • Wednesday 27th March (4pm to 5pm) – Fabian Wallace-Stephens will helps us discover “What lies ahead in the future of work – thinking beyond mass automation” (English)

https://www.enterticket.es/eventos/webinars-nesi-forum-what-lies-ahead-in-the-future-of-work-thinking-beyond-mass-a

  • Thursday 28th March (4pm to 5pm) – Andrea Somma shares her own personal journey “From sustainable fashion to the wellbeing economy” (Spanish)

https://www.enterticket.es/eventos/webinars-nesi-forumarquitectura-triple-balance-para-los-nuevos-desarrollos-de-co

  • Martes 2 de Abril (4pm to 5pm) – Nicola Cerantola helps us understand “Energy & resources flows in the circular economy” (English)

https://www.enterticket.es/eventos/webinars-nesi-forum-energy-and-resources-flows-in-the-circular-economy-21183

Blog by Stewart Wallis, WEAll Chair

 

 

Seven years after first speaking at a Global Alliance on Banking and Values (GABV) summit in Vancouver, it was wonderful to be back doing the same again.

GABV is a member of WEAll and in turn WEAll is a partner of GABV, working together to pursue economic system change and transform the financial system within that.

Hosted by GABV member bank Vancity, this year’s summit was a huge and dynamic gathering with between 400-500 participants. The theme spoke to the multiple challenges of our era: “Migrants, #MeToo, and Melting Icecaps…Redefining Banking for a Radically Different Future.”

It was a privilege to share the stage with wonderful keynote speakers:

Sheila Watt-Cloutier: Author and Activist, Canada from Inuit Nation who spoke so movingly about climate change. “If you protect the Arctic, you save the plan

et,” she said. “What happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic. Everything is connected through our common atmosphere, not to mention our common spirit and our common humanity.”

Tima Kurdi: Author of “The Boy on the Beach” and aunt of Alan Kurdi, whose tragic image shocked and moved the world in 2015. Tima evoked the most powerful expression of our common humanity and our common responsibility I have ever heard. The whole room was in tears following her speech.

Musimbi Kanyoro: CEO of the Global Fund for Women. She issued a clarion call for more power for women and girls worldwide combined with practical next steps.

John Fullerton: President of Capital Institute (a WEAll member organisation and we’re working together closely on hubs.) John gave the public address on the first evening and brilliantly laid the ground for my panel the next day. He stressed clearly the need for system change rather than incremental reform

In my panel I focused on the need for the economic system to be based in human and ecological wellbeing. I started by saying that yesterday humanity exploded 250,000 Hiroshima size level atomic bombs in our oceans…not literally, of course. However, the latest research shows the heat being released in the oceans is equivalent to 3-6 atomic bombs per second.

I then talked about income inequality, highlighting that last year the richest 28 people on the planet had the same wealth as the poorest 3.8 billion and the wealth of the billionaires went up last year, while the wealth of the poorest went down.

When we consider how these crises are interacting, we shouldn’t be surprised that our politics is going the way that it is. Fundamentally, the economic system we’ve got is broken, it’s dangerous and it’s violent. We’ve got to call it as it is and urge those with imagination to create a different economic system: one that’s got well-being of both the planet and humans and that puts regeneration at its heart.

The economic system had been changed twice in the 20th century and with collaboration, determination and imagination we could do so again. A new movement may never have an elite power base and billions of dollars in funds behind it, but it can have millions of hearts and hands. What WEAll is trying to achieve is bold, vital and entirely possible.

After the panel, I led a breakout group on changing the system through partnership. The interest in system change can be judged by the fact that about a quarter of the participants joined this group when they had 12 groups to choose from! A key proposal from this group to the GABV CEOs was that GABV banks could lead in their communities/cities/regions in bringing together other actors to form system change hubs. This is an exciting idea for WEAll and we will be exploring this further with GABV.

As always, some of the joys of such an event are the contacts and discussions outside the conference hall. I had discussions with some of the GABV member banks about specific collaboration, initiated conversations with four potential WEAll member organisations, identified potential participants for the Finance Cluster and agreed a set of detailed collaborative actions with Sandrine Dixson-Decleve , Co President of The Club of Rome (another WEAll member). Perhaps most energising of all were discussions with the Young Leaders Delegation at the Summit. They want to form a Youth hub in Vancouver so I can’t wait to put them in touch with WEAll Youth.

Finally, it was so refreshing to be with a group of bankers who want to change the world!

 

WEAll Member Circulous has launched an exciting new podcast focused on achieving a zero waste future – listen to the first episode here:

To truly understand the concept of zero waste, it’s essential that we dig into the current state of waste and waste management. In this, the first episode of Love Zero Waste, you’ll learn more about why the amount of waste is increasing every year, what happens with your waste after you chuck it and we introduce you to the 12…ish Rs of zero waste. We’ll even tap into the unknowns of “invisible waste”. You’ll meet Anna-Carin Gripwall, head of communication at the Swedish Waste Management Association (Avfall Sverige) and we’re paying a visit to Jochen Pach, head of projects and material flow management at Holding Graz Waste Management.

Guest blog from WEAll Scotland

The launch of new book ‘The Economics of Arrival: ideas for a grown-up economy’ by Katherine Trebeck and Jeremy Williams this month provided a great opportunity for WEAll Scotland to engage with the public on how to create a wellbeing economy by putting on launch events in collaboration with Oxfam Scotland.

Sold-out audiences in Glasgow and Edinburgh listened to an inspiring talk by the authors on the idea of ‘Arrival’ – the point at which economies can stop focusing on growth and instead focus on how to make ourselves at home in this place of plenty.

The concepts in the book resonated with participants, who were full of questions and ideas. Can Scotland follow in New Zealand’s footsteps and create a wellbeing budget? What can Scottish businesses do right now to contribute to this agenda? From a local councillor, what can councils do to encourage more participation? And, from the youngest participant who was just 9 years old, how can we make sustainable solutions more affordable for everyone?

All these questions and more were discussed in interactive sessions after the talks, with people contributing ideas and solutions for how Scotland can become a ‘grown-up economy’.

As with previous WEAll Scotland events, the diversity of perspectives in the room was very encouraging, with not only politicians, activists and business people taking part but also citizens who are increasingly concerned about the current system and keen to contribute to making change.

As one attendee put it: “I’m just a mum with a normal job, but recently my daughter has helped me realise about inequalities and unfairness and I want to play my part.”

Another, a student at Edinburgh University, said that the event and the connections with people there helped him feel hopeful for the future at a time when it seems like there’s a lot of cause for despair.

‘Arrival’ is the idea that a society collectively has the means for this. Growth has reached a point at which a decent standard of living could, theoretically, be universal – and countries like Scotland could lead the way. This week’s events certainly helped the WEAll Scotland team feel like this is not only possible, but already starting to happen.

The book is available from Policy Press here.

Guest blog by Henry Leveson-Gower, Promoting Economic Pluralism

As a follow-up to our blog for WEAll from last December, we wanted to invite you to join the online dialogue about an accreditation scheme for masters programmes taking a pluralist approach to economics. The dialogue is now open and live here.

We are currently debating what teaching pluralism in understanding the economy should be about. You can get a flavour of the debate so far here. Please join by going to the page linked above and have your say in this discussion.

We promise, the platform is set up so it won’t take up much of your time! Have a look at the short introductory video (<7mins; also on the page linked above) & find out how you can contribute your own ideas, vote on other people’s ideas or express your views about them in the form of points in favour or against them.

Some of you may not have the time to read the full blog above, but still want to get some more general information about this project first. In this case you can always go to our website to find out about why we think the co-creation of this scheme is crucial for the creation and enhancement of genuine wellbeing economies.

Don’t miss this opportunity to set common standards for pluralist economics education worthy of its name. We need your input so this scheme is truly co-created. So please join!

If you don’t have time right now, you can always sign up here to keep in touch with the debate and join later.

 

In November, Sistema B hosted the first world meeting of the BCorp movement in Puerto Varas, Chile.

The organisers shared this letter with all who attended:

Greetings from the president of Chile 

The president of the Republic of Chile, Sebastian Piñera didn’t want to miss out on Encuentro +B. He even sent us greetings from afar. Let’s check it out!

Open Letter to the governments of the G20 nations

One of the important milestones of Encuentro+ B was the presentation of the open letter to the G20 nations , which will meet in Argentina on November 30 to discuss the global economy.

Today, more than ten years after the global financial crisis, a group of business leaders, purpose-driven entrepreneurs and impact investors have come together to summon G20 countries to help build an economic system that is useful to people and the planet.

You can check it out and join at change.org  to see the open letter signed by The B Team, B Lab , GSG and Sistema B, supported by the We-All Global Alliance.

Help us share the message on social networks to reach out to world leaders. Here you will find posts and graphs that will help you.

Missed the lectures?
If you missed the lectures, do not worry because everything is recorded here:

Thriving Resilient Communities (TRC)
2019 Movement Strategy Dialogue

The Thriving Resilient Communities Collaboratory (TRCC) invites you to join them in exploring this question as we enter 2019:

What would you like to learn about building thriving, resilient communities, and how can we better support those doing so across the world?

This is a participant-led conversation taking place now through January 7, 2019 and you can be part of it.

Zoom calls take place on a schedule that evolves to meet participant needs. The Dialogue process also makes use of Facebook, Google docs, and Slack. Details when you register.  See the current agenda (which is developing on an ongoing basis) here.

About the TRC Movement Strategy Dialogue

This is the fourth annual iteration of the Dialogue, which is hosted by the Thriving Resilient Communities Collaboratory (TRCC), a network of regional and national organizational leaders who are working to revitalize local communities across the USA.  Its purpose is to learn more about how we can support those who are building thriving, resilient communities across the US and the world.

Intended results of this collective inquiry include:

  • Creating a space for shared learning on the connection between local scale transformation and regional/national/global structures for collaboration, as well as on ways to democratize philanthropy
  • Connecting people and organizations within and beyond the TRCC community, both for general networking and to onboard new TRCC member organizations (see the next page for a list of current member orgs)
  • Celebrating our work over the past year, and nourishing our souls so we move into the new one with greater energy and solidarity
  • Supporting the 2019 cycle of the collaborative funding initiative facilitated by the TRCC in partnership with the Threshold Foundation.  
    • This includes identifying overall strategies for our grantmaking, potential grantee nominees, and potential funding partners.
  • Seeding new collaborations

TRCC is especially excited about the participation of new people in this year’s engagement, as they seek to learn from Thriving Resilience work being done around the world, and to expand their core community of US-focused organizational leaders.  

Check out this harvest “Prezi” for a sense of what emerged from last year’s Dialogue.

This document provides a full overview of the 2018 Dialogue, along with links to notes and videos from the nineteen conversations that took place, an annotated resource list compiled by participants, and a set of seven “mini-learning journey stories” that capture some of the essence of what was learned and experienced.

Current TRCC Community Member Organizations

 

Bloom Network
Center for Economic Democracy
Compassion Games
The Connection Partners
Cooperative Development Institute
Daily Acts
The Gaiafield Network
Geoversiv Foundation
The Grassroots Fund
Institute for Evolutionary Leadership
Integrative Permaculture
Local 20/20
Movement Generation
Music as Medicine
New Economy Coalition
New Stories
NorCal Resilience Network
Permaculture Action Network
Post Carbon Institute
Regenerate Change
Shareable
Social Transformation Project
Sociocracy For All
Sustainable Economies Law Center
Threshold Foundation
Transition US