Can companies do better by doing less? | Guardian Sustainable Business In mainstream economics and politics, “growth” is a largely unquestioned good, generally associated with positive attributes like “progress” or “innovation”. “Degrowth”, on the other hand, connotes negative trends like recession, decline, unemployment and social disruption. Viewed from this angle, the idea of voluntary degrowth seems bizarre. Or, as British economist Tim Jackson puts it, “Questioning growth is deemed to be the act of lunatics, idealists and revolutionaries.” Not surprisingly, when policymakers and business leaders look for solutions to environmental and social crises, they usually focus on technology-based “growth” strategies like “green growth”, geo-engineering and carbon capture. However, a growing number of scientists have argued that growth-based technology solutions alone will not be able to stop the dramatic human overuse of nature, or eradicate poverty. Building degrowth communities – and economies The food sector is an especially fertile area for innovation.
How Uber and the Sharing Economy Can Win Over Regulators - Sarah Cannon, and Lawrence H. Summers Sharing economy firms are disrupting traditional industries across the globe. For proof, look no further than Airbnb which, at $10 billion, can boast a higher valuation than the Hyatt hotel chain. Uber is currently valued at $18.2 billion relative to Hertz at $12.5 billion and Avis at $5.2 billion. Beyond individual firms, there are now more than 1,000 cities across four continents where people can share cars. These firms bring significant economic, environmental, and entrepreneurial benefits including an increase in employment and a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions (in the case of car sharing services). However, rather than rolling out the red carpet, city governments have resisted many of these new entrants issuing subpoenas and cease-and-desist orders. Regulation is often the most significant barrier to future growth for sharing economy firms. The relationship between sharing economy firms and regulators will likely remain uneasy for the foreseeable future.
And what about the money? On September 15, 2008, six years ago, Lehman Brothers collapsed. Despite a “tsunami” of reforms, the financial system has not been transformed. To change finance, there might be a need to change our basic understanding of the financial system. This come-back to fundamentals has led reformers as well as central bankers to focus on money itself. Interestingly, new thinking comes with new methods of producing and spreading knowledge, and new ways of forcing ideas into the political agenda. By Fabien Hassan, guest poster* Since its creation in 2012, Finance Watch has been trying to have an impact on the regulatory agenda in Europe, and has achieved some remarkable results (see annual report for 2013). But what of the reforms that have not made it onto the mainstream legislative agenda? The role of money in macroeconomics Mainstream economics, a science which deals with prices, wealth, and production essentially claims that money doesn't matter. Who are the advocates of monetary reform?
“The circular economy is the basis of a new EU industrial policy” | Europe’s World The European Commission’s paper “For a European Industrial Renaissance” underlines the importance of boosting manufacturing industry’s share of the EU’s GDP to around 20% by 2020 from 15% today. To reach that, adjustments to the regulatory framework will be vital. Although derided sometimes as the “old continent”, Europe is nevertheless very well placed to kick-start a new industrial era around the world thanks to its wealth of productive infrastructure, its skilled workforce and innovation capital. But first, what must Europe, as cradle of the industrial revolution, do to re-invent itself and re-think the future? Faced with unprecedented price rises and volatility on commodities markets, Europe’s industrial economy needs tangible solutions if it is to be at the forefront of globalisation. “The throughput economy has since the industrial revolution been based on a take-make-dispose flow of resources and energy no longer provides the socio-economic solutions we need”
The Sharing Economy on the Collaborative Commons The following essay is excerpted from The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism, by Jeremy Rifkin and appears at Common Dreams with permission. A powerful new economic movement has taken off overnight. A younger generation is beginning to share goods and services on a global Collaborative Commons. Much of what we own goes unused some of the time. Like other shareable brokers, Airbnb gets only a small cut from the renter and owner for bringing them together. Airbnb is a private firm operating in a shared Internet Commons. Couchsurfing also differentiates itself from its more commercial competitor, Airbnb, by viewing its mission more broadly as social rather than commercial in nature. Toy rentals have also enjoyed success as sharable items. Even clothes, the most personal of all physical items, are metamorphosing from a possession to a service. While rentables are booming, so too are redistribution networks.
Economic Shift: The Rise of the Collaborative Commons | Big Think | Think Tank “We are just beginning to glimpse the bare outlines of an emerging new economic system--the collaborative commons,” explains economist Jeremy Rifkin, the New York Times bestselling author of The Zero Marginal Cost Society. In our new series on disruption, Rifkin discusses the forces shaping our economy and what we can expect in the years to come. “This is the first new economic paradigm to emerge on the world scene since the advent of capitalism and socialism in the early 19th century. So it's a remarkable historical event.” Rifkin is a prominent voice on the forefront of what he calls the Third Industrial Revolution, the era in which technology is shaping economies to be more energy efficient and collaborative. His research helps shape the decisions of government leaders around the world to meet the challenges of today and work towards a more prosperous, cleaner future. “What's really interesting is the trigger that's giving birth to this new economic system.
10 things we learned in recent circular economy live chat | Guardian Sustainable Business | Guardian Professional 1. The circular economy is about the four ‘R’s Asked to describe a circular economy for someone who had never heard of it, Bart Goetzee, senior group sustainability at Philips explains that it’s “an industrial system that is restorative by design which means you can focus on economic growth without the increased use of natural resources.” Essentially it’s about making more money while selling less stuff and it encompasses four different R’s, expands Mike Pitts, lead specialist in sustainability at Innovate UK, offering some practical examples. 2. According to CEO of Wrap, Liz Goodwin: For a product, the onus is on the manufacturer who needs to take care of the resources used in its products, so it keeps the metals, plastics etc in use within the product cycle for as long as possible and thinks about design for longevity, repair and re-use. 3. Terms such as GDP are meaningless measures for service-based economies, let alone circular economies, argues Innoverne’s Chris Hoskin. 4. 5. 6. 7.
New business models Report Summary Despite continued uncertain economic conditions, most companies remain persuaded that there is a strong causal link between their financial performance over a 5-10 year time horizon and their current commitment to improving their environmental, social and governance performance. Against this background, a number of business leaders are reviewing their approach to sustainability, weighing new corporate strategies and new business models in efforts to ensure their long-term sustainability. New business models for the 21st century is an Economist Intelligence Unit report, commissioned by Enel Foundation that discusses companies’ views on sustainability measures, the challenge of measuring and reporting sustainability outcomes, and the prospects of business models focussing on long-term sustainability. Why read this report Ernst Ligteringen, CEO, Global Reporting Initiative Contributors Published:October 13th 2014 Interviewed for this report:
UK remanufacturing worth £5.6bn if business model can be cracked | Guardian Sustainable Business At its crudest, remanufacturing involves rebuilding, repairing and restoring an end-of-life product to meet or exceed its original performance specifications, with a warranty to match. It’s considered one of the more valuable resource flow routes of the circular economy, yet it’s still a fledging industry – particularly within the UK and Europe. According to a report from the All-Party Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group (APSRG), the UK’s remanufacturing market is valued at £2.4bn, yet has the potential to increase to £5.6bn. “Remanufacturing presents a huge financial opportunity for the UK,” asserts APSRG’s manager Laura Owen. Susanne Baker, senior climate and environment policy adviser at manufacturers’ organisation EEF believes that remanufacturing could give British manufacturers a competitive edge “if they can crack the model”. “It presents an opportunity to reduce operational costs significantly,” she says. Read more like this: The circular economy hub is funded by Philips.
Twitter list: 10 top tweeters on economic transformation | Guardian Sustainable Business | The Guardian To celebrate the launch of a new area of content focused on rethinking prosperity, we’ve compiled a list of the top tweeters who are driving the issues we’ll be covering - from peace economics and new wealth metrics, to sustainable financial change. Use the comments section below to suggest any Twitter users you would recommend following, or let us know via @GuardianSustBiz. Business Alliance of Local Living Economies By connecting leaders, spreading solutions, and attracting investment toward local economies, BALLE is attempting to create real prosperity for everyone. — Be A Localist (@bealocalist)September 3, 2014Motivation of pioneers comes from loving something. Not about creating new asset class or dominating #LoveEconomy. SOCAP is a conference series dedicated to increasing the flow of capital toward social good, and brings together global innovators, investors, foundations, governments, institutions, and social entrepreneurs. Jeremy Scrivens New Economics Foundation Hunter Lovins YES!
Life in a 'degrowth' economy, and why you might actually enjoy it What does genuine economic progress look like? The orthodox answer is that a bigger economy is always better, but this idea is increasingly strained by the knowledge that, on a finite planet, the economy can’t grow for ever. This week’s Addicted to Growth conference in Sydney is exploring how to move beyond growth economics and towards a “steady-state” economy. But what is a steady-state economy? The global predicament We used to live on a planet that was relatively empty of humans; today it is full to overflowing, with more people consuming more resources. At the same time, there are great multitudes around the world who are, by any humane standard, under-consuming, and the humanitarian challenge of eliminating global poverty is likely to increase the burden on ecosystems still further. Meanwhile the population is set to hit 11 billion this century. Degrowth to a steady-state economy The idea of the steady-state economy presents us with an alternative. We need an alternative.
The 4 Transportation Systems You'll Meet in the Future We tend to think of transportation networks as the result of large public works projects—hello, Interstate Highway System—but lately, private hands have been tinkering at the edges of urban mobility. App-based e-hail car services like Uber and Lyft are disrupting traditional city taxi programs. Smartphones are changing the way we wait for and pay for public transportation. And, of course, Google is on the verge of reshaping movement as we know it with the driverless car. It's time to get the public sector talking again, says Anthony Townsend of New York University's Rudin Center for Transportation Policy & Management. To start the conversation, Townsend and the Rudin Center have released Re-Programming Mobility—a report intended to provoke city officials, urban planners, and the general public into participating in the future of transportation, rather than reacting to it. Re-Programming Mobility conceives four fictional-but-fact-based urban-mobility scenarios set in roughly 2030.