The Solutions Agenda

New Economic Measurements

The profound insight of the field of ecological economics is that economic growth is constrained by ecological limits. This model is supported by a comprehensive survey of the state of ecosystems (MEA, 2005), theoretical elaboration (Daly, 2004), evidence from the ecological footprint model (Wackernagel, 2002); and many examples from the real world identifying a full spectrum of social, ecological and economic implications arising from attempts to negotiate a coordinated global response to human-induced climate change (UNFCCC, 2009). Modern capitalism, which can be considered the 'operating system' of the world economy (Speth, 2008), is growth dependent and becomes unstable in the absence of growth. Economic theory indicates that human welfare is dependent on and therefore justifies economic growth, yet such growth continues to undermine the ecological systems that support life on earth.

Recent economic crises have opened up intellectual space for discussions regarding the centrality of growth in policy-making. As society's end goal, the definition of human well-being is at the heart of the matter. The relevance of economic performance is that it must be viewed as a means to an end. That end is neither the consumption of beef burgers, nor the accumulation of television sets, nor the control of inflation rates, but rather the enrichment of humankind's well-being. Economic performance matters only in so far as it makes people happier (Oswald, 1997). A broader concept of well-being requires a more complex analysis, provided through the accumulating evidence of research into what factors support happiness, and how this relates to economic growth (e.g. Layard 2006).

  1. Work with accounting bodies to advance closed-loop and or true cost accounting frameworks

  2. Include shadow prices that reflect the cost of externalities in corporate reporting

  3. Phase out subsidies for unsustainable natural resource development

  4. Implement regulations that facilitate greater use of recycled materials and repurposing

  5. Focus public sector investment vehicles on the transition to a low carbon economy

  6. Transition to sustainable rather than exploitative resource extraction

  7. Implement policies such as Robin Hood taxation, or Hawkin’s redirection of taxes (tax undesirables and let desirables flourish, reducing the inequities between uneven, under and over-development of communities)

  8. Incentivize greater take-up of local co-operatives by working with community colleges to develop a 2-year diploma program to assist with the promotion and growth of these important community catalysts

Rethinking Growth from Community Research Connections on Vimeo.

One of the greatest pieces of economic wisdom is to know what you do not know.

(John Kenneth Galbraith)