Citizen-led Economic Transition – a four point framework for guiding action

Perhaps we all agree the current economic system is the problem. This is, of course, a generalisation which could be endlessly unpicked and elaborated. But if we’re concerned about global warming, biospheric damage, inequality, etc, the globe-sized elephant in the room, so to speak, is the dominant economic system powered by fossil fuels and predicated on endless consumption and growth. It’s efficiency-oriented and centralising, concentrating ever greater economic and political power in the hands of oligarchs and autocrats, which means change will not come easy.

Perhaps by now we also know that change is coming one way or the other. Experts warn we must rapidly reduce the energetic and material throughput of the global economic system by orders of magnitude in the coming years or face severe consequences, including a variety of collapse scenarios. These consequences will hit real people in real communities in our towns, cities, and surrounding regions. This suggests what’s needed is not just a radical rethink, but a radical reconfiguration of how we meet our needs.

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Relocalisation – is it meeting your needs?

Growth is a good thing, at least for economic re-localisation. Interest in re-localisation, as well as related notions of de-centralisation and community resilience, has gone viral with new initiatives popping up seemingly every day. With all this new enthusiasm, it’s easy to forget that the roots of these ideas go back several decades, and that this ‘movement’ is just one current of a much broader global movement seeking to manifest economic, environmental, and social justice at every scale of society. No matter, these ideas are beginning to infiltrate the mainstream, even finding their way into EU policy.

ttt_logo_webThere are inspiring success stories unfolding, such as in Totnes, Devon where I live. But many community-led initiatives trying to spark this kind of local economic change fail to reach their full potential, or simply fail, and for many reasons. Some because they jump straight to prescriptions without adequate diagnoses. Others simply fail on project design. Still others cannot reach beyond their core base of ‘usual suspects’ and stand accused of being non-inclusive. Some can’t rally adequate community support to sustain their work beyond a project or two.

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