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'New economy' map seeks to encourage sustainability


Developers of projects that contribute to the evolution of the green “new economy” can showcase their initiatives on an interactive online map established by the Cambridge, Massachusetts based New Economics Institute (NEI), and United Kingdom think tank New Economics Foundation (NEF).

The online map depicts the location of more than 500 mainly grassroots organisations around the world that are engaged in some form of innovative thinking about more sustainable economic activities. According to NEI/NEF, the map “creates a framework to define the new economy, and a forum for community groups, organisations and individuals to share information and best practice - thereby accelerating the replication of successful new economy projects.”

The “new economy” is a system that “delivers wellbeing and social justice, without stretching the Earth’s resources beyond breaking point,” according to NEI/NEF. They argue that a move to a new economy is essential because the current system is environmentally unsustainable, and concentrates revenues from economic activity in too few hands.

The online map categorises the projects that it features into 9 types:

  • Models and metrics: new indicators and ways of measuring and analysing human progress.
  • Citizens and communities: projects working on local economies to make communities more resilient.
  • Finance: exploring different ways of making capital available to communities and small companies, especially for projects that combine economic, social and environmental goals.
  • Global justice: poverty eradication or quality of life improvement.
  • Governance: governance frameworks that will promote social justice and sustainability.
  • Currencies: new ways for people to exchange goods and services.
  • Enterprise and ownership: more equitable means of owning the production of goods and services.
  • Local economies: helping communities take care of their own needs through local production.
  • The commons: new ideas for the sustainable use of public goods, such as natural and cultural resources.

One example of a European initiative mapped by NEI/NEF is Ecopower in Berchem, Belgium. Ecopower is a cooperative that collects funds from its 40,000 members and uses them to finance renewable energy projects. Ecopower seeks to make a fair profit from the electricity it generates but does not prioritise this over environmental or social goals. Profits for its shareholders (members) are capped at 6%.

The NEI/NEF mapping initiative, known as the Global Transition to a New Economy map, grew out of a project, Global Transition 2012, which aims to bring thinkers from around the world together to examine the concept of the new economy. The Global Transition project produced a series of 11 “challenge papers,” covering issues from financial market reform to systems thinking in the management of natural capital, for the United Nations Rio+20 sustainable development conference in June 2012.

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