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House of Commons and a New Economics

If you have seen the name of Neva Rockefeller Goodwin in the news it is probably for her shareholder action at ExxonMobil, intended to help the company to anticipate and take leadership in ushering in a post-carbon economy.  But on October 28th visitors to Britain’s House of Commons could have heard Dr. Goodwin, an economist and Co-Chair of the Global Development And Environment Institute at Tufts University, addressing an All-Party Parliamentary Group on the need for new kinds of economic thinking to meet our current environmental and social challenges.

Her remarks on this occasion were based on her paper, “A New Economics for the 21st Century,” which can be read here.

The other speakers were Peter Victor, Professor in Environmental Studies at York University, Canada, and a board member of the Schumacher Center, and Charles Seaford, Head of the Centre for Well-being at the New Economics Foundation  and a coordinator of the Parliamentary Group on Economics of Well-being.

Seaford spoke of the importance of changing policy goals from maximizing GDP to maximizing well-being. Dr. Victor described his model for how the Canadian economy can move from its present path to one of low or no growth, while still increasing well-being, as described in his book, Managing Without Growth: Slower by Design not Disaster.

However, to comprehend and support such policy changes a new economic theory needs to be developed and made accessible to governments and their citizens.  Neva Goodwin outlined aspects of that alternative economic theory.

Kelvin Hopkins, a Labour Member of Parliament commented after the session that he wished it could have been heard by all of the 659 Members.  He urged the speakers to continue to build the case for a new economics.

The trip to London was part of a five person delegation from the Schumacher Center to a conference on “Modeling the Great Transition,” hosted by our partners at the New Economics Foundation. It is a bold project.  We all know parts of the new economy, whether the words we use to describe it are “sustainable,” “just,” “transparent,” or “secure;” or perhaps “local empowerment,” “global caring,” “well-being,” or “community.” But how do all of these fit together, and how will we get from our current economic condition to the one we imagine?

These were the questions that were addressed at the conference and that will be further addressed by speakers at the Thirtieth Annual E. F. Schumacher Lectures on November 20th in New York City. “Voices of a New Economics” will feature Gus Speth, dean of the environmental movement and author of The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability; Stewart Wallis, Executive Director of London’s prestigious New Economics Foundation; and Neva Goodwin, whose development of forward-looking principles of economics is based on understanding and concern for the social and ecological contexts in which the economy is embedded.

Please join us on November 20th for the Thirtieth Annual Schumacher Lectures to continue the work of shaping an economy designed to support human well-being and restore our common eco-system.