Finally, a breakthrough alternative to growth economics – the doughnut
Instead of growth at all costs, a new economic model allows us to thrive while saving the planet.
So what are we going to do about it? This is the only question worth asking. But the answers appear elusive. Faced with a multifaceted crisis – the capture of governments by billionaires and their lobbyists, extreme inequality, the rise of demagogues, above all the collapse of the living world – those to whom we look for leadership appear stunned, voiceless, clueless. Even if they had the courage to act, they have no idea what to do.
The most they tend to offer is more economic growth: the fairy dust supposed to make all the bad stuff disappear. Never mind that it drives ecological destruction; that it has failed to relieve structural unemployment or soaring inequality; that, in some recent years, almost all the increment in incomes has been harvested by the top 1%. As values, principles and moral purpose are lost, the promise of growth is all that’s left.
Missing Points in the Development Dialogue
Degrowth, steady state economics and the circular economy: three distinct yet increasingly converging alternative discourses to economic growth for achieving environmental sustainability and social equity
- By George-Konstantinos Charonis. Presented to the World Economics Association conference of October 2012. Full paper HERE.
Criticisms of the neoclassical economic framework and perpetual growth in GDP terms are not a new phenomenon, although recent years have seen increasing interest in alternative and ecological discourses including degrowth, steady state and circular economics. Although these may initially appear as distinctly different discourses, they are highly compatible and comparable, sharing similar, often nearly identical principles and policy proposals. A more collaborative, joined-up approach aimed at integrating alternative discourses is required in order to build a coherent, credible, well-supported alternative, as there is more uniting than dividing these critical voices, particularly in the face of mainstream political and economic debates that are shaped by neoclassical economics.
Business leaders and governments alike are acknowledging that continued long-term value creation requires a new economic model that is less dependent on cheap, easily accessible materials and energy, and that is able to restore and regenerate natural capital. In its research to date, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation has demonstrated that the circular economy is a clear value creation opportunity. As many policymakers become interested in this promising model, they envisage the important role they can play in creating the right enabling conditions and, as appropriate, setting direction to unlock it.
This year’s program combines site visits, brainstorming sessions, conferences, presentations and vigorous questioning, looking, listening and co-learning with my esteemed long time Taiwanese friends and colleagues.from 22 September to 4 October. Among the main events and presentations:
Out there in the real world life is a complex interactive system in which things do not exist in isolation but depend heavily on each other. As Miller and Scott put it: “A complex adaptive system is a system in which a perfect understanding of the individual parts does not automatically convey a perfect understanding of the whole system’s behavior”. Which means that if our goal is to create a strong and wise policy for sustainable transport in and around our cities we need to change our tools and perspective as well as our behaviour. As the Brundtland Report, “Our Common Future” told us already a full generation ago . . .
The following is taken from the peer review edition of the forthcoming book “BETTER CHOICES: Bringing Sustainable Transport to Your City“. For a copy drop a line to betterchoices@ecoplan,org.