• Launch of the Social Guarantee

    Anna Coote

    Wednesday, 23 June 2021
    Social Guarantee Launch Event
    Thursday 1 July 6-7 pm (online)
    Register HERE

    This is the new initiative that develops work we have been doing on Universal Basic Services (UBS) and on the social dimension of the Green New Deal. We are working in partnership with the New Economics Foundation and the Institute for Global Prosperity at UCL to build both theory and practice.

    The Social Guarantee enshrines every person’s right to life’s essentials: a stable planet, education, health and social care, a decent home, childcare, nutritious food, clean air and water, energy, transport and access to the internet. For this to happen, everyone must have access to services that meet their needs as well as to a fair living income. Please join us at 6pm on Thursday 1st July as we discuss why we need a Social Guarantee – what it means, why it matters and how it can be put into practice.

    We have a great line-up of speakers: Ann Pettifor - Award winning economist and author of The Case for The Green New Deal, Kate Raworth - Renegade economist and creator of Doughnut Economics, Georgia Gould - Leader of Camden Council and Chaitanya Kumar - Head of Environment and Green Transition at the New Economics Foundation. The event will be chaired by Maeve Cohen – Project Officer, The Social Guarantee.

    For any enquiries contact info@socialguarantee.org.

  • OPINION: G7 leaders should end not just coal, but also oil and gas finance in 2021

    Thursday, 10 June 2021
    Ahead of the G7 summit, more than 100 economists issued a letter calling on G7 countries to commit to shift their finance out of all fossil fuels (not just coal) this year, to enable a green pandemic recovery.

    You can read the full letter here.

    Among the signers were GTN members Andrew Simms, Ashok Khosla, Inge Røpke, Juliet Schor, Kate Raworth, Michael Pirson, and Neva Goodwin.

  • "These Alternative Economies Are Inspirations for a Sustainable World"

    Thursday, 10 June 2021
    Ashish Kothari has a new article in Scientific American entitled "These Alternative Economies Are Inspirations for a Sustainable World," in which he talks about efforts on the ground to build alternatives to corporate globalization and how they outline a path forward.

    As Kothari argues, "To walk away from the cliff edge of irreversible destabilization of the biosphere, I believe we must enable alternative structures, such as those of the Dalit farmers, the Quechua conservers and the Lisbon volunteers, to flourish and link up into a tapestry that ultimately covers the globe."

  • Great Transition on ClubHouse

    Paul Harris

    Monday, 07 June 2021

    I have joined many clubs in Clubhouse, including the European Union club, with 3,600 members. In the European Union club, I have started rooms with topics such as (1) What do all human beings have in common?  (2) Is love for the world the best patriotism?  (3) Can the European Union be a model for a World Parliament?  and (4) Should UN ambassadors be elected by popular vote?

    I have talked in Clubhouse rooms about globalization, the future of the world, and the Great Transition with people in Siberia, Ulaanbaatar, Kathmandu, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Taipei, Jakarta, Bangkok, Mumbai, Tehran, Riyadh, Cairo, Lagos, and Istanbul, as well as with people in lots of places in Europe and the Americas.  Many of the people I talk with are in their 20's, so they may well be alive in 2084.  Because club members can recommend new members, club membership can expand rapidly. The Creative Executive Officers club has 75,000 members, the Tech Talks club has 70,000 members, and the Community Club has 31,000 members.

    Recently, I started a new club on Clubhouse called "Great Transition."  As of June 7, 2021, the club had the following description and 71 members:

    The World in 2084: A Brief Summary of Paul Raskin's New Paradigm Scenario

    Paul Raskin's 2016 Journey to Earthland presents six possible scenarios for the world in the latter half of the 21st Century. His most hopeful scenario, the New Paradigm, may be possible, but only if humanity successfully and significantly changes its current direction.

    Commitment to the New Paradigm requires understanding what it is, why it is much better than the alternatives, and what we can do today to help realize it. The purpose of this summary is to introduce the scenario, provide an initial basis for discussing it, and encourage people to read Journey to Earthland. Here is a link to download a free pdf of the book or to purchase it: https://greattransition.org/publication/journey-to-earthland?

    Pages 71 to 108 of Journey to Earthland present a description of the New Paradigm in 2084. (Raskin chose 2084 because it is 100 years after George Orwell's dystopian future, 1984.) In Raskin's 2084, people still face real problems, so the world is not a utopia. It is, however, much more sustainable, just, and secure than in 2020. The dominant values have changed from consumerism, individualism, and exploitation of the natural world to quality of life, solidarity with others, and harmony with the natural world.

    The goal of accumulating ever more individual material wealth has been replaced by the goal of having a high quality of life in a world where everyone's basic material needs are satisfied. "Enough is enough" and "enough for all" (page 76). This has led to great reductions in wealth and income disparity through changes in tax policies. It has also led to time affluence through productivity increases, reductions in unnecessary production, and full employment policies. "Workweeks in the formal economy typically range from 12 to 18 hours" (page 97). The desire for money is giving way to the cultivation of artistic skills, personal relationships, and wellness of body, mind, and spirit.

    World population has stabilized at just less than 8 billion people, far less than the 10 billion or more peak the UN projected in 2020. Universal education and healthcare, combined with more equitable economic policies, have reduced population growth even while increasing life expectancy.

    Raskin divides the Great Transition from 1980 to 2084 into five stages: Takeoff (1980-2001), Rolling Crisis (2001-2023), General Emergency (2023-2028), Reform Era (2028-2048), and Commonwealth of Earthland (2048-2084).

    To join Clubhouse and become a member of the Great Transition club, click this link:


  • Chronicle of a Tectonic Year – Point of No Return, Or Returning to Our True Wholeness?

    Kavita Byrd has just published a new book, a compilation of 25 articles she wrote from lockdown in rural India during the first momentous year of the coronavirus pandemic: Chronicle of a Tectonic Year – Point of No Return, Or Returning to Our True Wholeness? Tracing the pivotal arc of events unfolding during this world-changing time, and responding to them in real-time, Kavita brings a spiritual and holistic perspective to how we can meet our crises with grace, wisdom, love and vision, co-creating a new regenerative world of interconnection, justice, thriving and wholeness. The book is available here, or GTI members can get a free PDF copy by contacting Kavita at kavitaji25@yahoo.com.

    Here is an excerpt from the first article, which also appeared on the GTI Forum “After the Pandemic: Which Future?” in May 2020: “There is no going back to normal... Either we allow ourselves to be herded into a new totalitarian age, where all our rights and freedoms are taken away, and we are subjected to repeated lockdowns and martial control as further collapses hurtle down the pipeline – or we assert massive resistance to that trajectory and take it into our own power to create another one, based on entirely different values, ones that can actually save us – love, cooperation and caring, simplicity, community, interconnectedness, a sacred reverence for the preciousness of our existence and the whole web of life that sustains us.”

    She also has a new article which continues on these themes: “Mistaking the Problems for the Solutions: Reversing the Fatal Flaw Behind Our Proliferating Crises”, contrasting the dangers of top-down, man-made agendas with sustainable solutions in cooperation with each other and nature.

  • Breaking Boundaries: The Science of Our Planet

    Tuesday, 01 June 2021

    Johan Rockström has a new documentary coming out on Netflix this summer, entitled Breaking Boundaries: The Science of Our Planet. With Sir David Attenborough, he narrates the story of how humans are increasingly encroaching on planetary boundaries and, importantly, how we still have time to chart a more sustainable direction -- if we act quickly.

    Read a Netflix press release about the documentary here and an interview in The Guardian about it here.

  • Beyond the Knowledge Crisis: A Synthesis Framework for Socio-Environmental Studies and Guide to Social Change

    Friday, 28 May 2021
    Debbie Kasper has a new book out: Beyond the Knowledge Crisis: A Synthesis Framework for Socio-Environmental Studies and Guide to Social Change (Palgrave MacMillan 2021).

    Read a description below, and use the the following token on https://www.palgrave.com/ to order a copy: p85nMkF7YyDyjxT / Valid Jun 1, 2021 – Jun 29, 2021

    In the face of complex, interwoven, planet-scale problems, many cite the need for more integrated knowledge—especially across the natural and social sciences. Excessive specialization, they argue, gets in the way of knowing what we know, much less being able to use it to address urgent socio-environmental crises. These concerns, it turns out, go back centuries. This book picks up where most leave off, exploring the history of how we got here and proposing a way forward. Along the way, readers find that the synthesis long called for depends on theoretical advancements in social science. Fortunately, the author argues, we have everything we need to achieve those advancements. Integrating insights from history, science, sociological theory, and more, this book neatly packages the upgraded paradigm we need to be able to meaningfully address complex socio-environmental problems and more intentionally shape humanity’s collective future.

  • From win-win to net zero: would the real sustainability please stand up?

    Friday, 21 May 2021

    Ducan Austin has a new article in the Responsible Investor, entitled "From win-win to net zero: would the real sustainability please stand up?" In it, he argues that conventional "win-win" approaches to corporate sustainability rely on a narrow view of sustainability as "more sustainable than before" and fail to grapple with ecological limits.

    He concludes,

    With today’s clash between the demands of net zero and the hopes of win-win, we have reached the decisive moment. Contrary to early hopes that a win-win narrative might stimulate sufficient voluntary action to constitute ‘enough sustainability’, the learning has emphatically been that win-win cannot scale to deliver enough ecological improvement, fast enough. This difficult truth can no longer be ignored.

    The challenge for all organisations aspiring to be sustainable – from governments to businesses to non-profits – is to clarify for themselves and their various stakeholders what definition of sustainability they intend to work to. Are they ‘more sustainable than before’ organisations or are they organisations committed to creating a world that is ‘sustainable enough before it is too late’?

    The ramifications are enormous. To persist with the former definition, which has been the tacit default for the sustainable business movement, is to propagate an increasingly untenable win-win narrative that suppresses the recognition of the emergency situation we now face. It also perpetuates complacency about economic growth at a time when most growth is not green at all and ecological thresholds are fast approaching. In contrast, to adopt the latter definition is to accept we now must do everything possible to catalyse science-based policies and behavioural change, and work back from there to new definitions of ‘growth’ and ‘profit’.

    Moreover, the situation is not static. In a race against time, every moment of inaction, or even of insufficient action, is effectively a costly delay. We are fast approaching the time when ‘more sustainable than before’ is ‘not sustainable at all’.

  • The Corruption of Capitalism

    Wednesday, 19 May 2021

    Guy Standing's The Corruption of Capitalism: Why Rentiers Thrive and Work Does Not Pay is now available in its third edition, which encompasses debates around the pandemic slump and Brexit. You can read a description of the book below and order a copy here.

    There is a lie at the heart of global capitalism. Politicians, financiers and global bureaucrats claim to believe in free competitive markets, but have constructed the most unfree market system ever.

    It is corrupt because income is channelled to the owners of property – financial, physical and intellectual – at the expense of society.

    The classic book reveals how global capitalism is rigged in favour of rentiers to the detriment of the precariat and others, an inequity that has been made starker by the advent of coronavirus. A plutocracy and elite enriches itself, not through production of goods and services, but through ownership of assets and the privatisation of public services. Meanwhile, wages stagnate as labour markets are transformed by outsourcing, automation and the on-demand economy, generating more rental income while expanding the precariat.

    Guy Standing also has a new article, "Why we should support the vaccine waiver," in the Progressive Economy Forum--available here. In the article, Standing argues that "the global patent system needs to be dismantled in its entirety," using the current debates about intellectual property rights and the COVID-19 vaccine as an illustrative example.

  • Threats: Intimidation and Its Discontents

    Wednesday, 19 May 2021

    David Barash has a new book Threats: Intimidation and Its Discontents, published last October by Oxford University Press. You can order a copy here and read the description below:

    From hurricanes and avalanches to diseases and car crashes, threats are everywhere. Beyond objective threats like these, there are also subjective ones: situations in which individuals threaten each other or feel threatened by society. Animals, too, make substantial use of threats. Evolution manipulates threats like these in surprising ways, leading us to question the ethics of honest versus dishonest communication. Rarely acknowledged--and yet crucially important--is the fact that humans, animals, and even plants don't only employ threats, they often respond with counter-threats that ultimately make things worse. By exploring the dynamic of threat and counter-threat, this book expands on many fraught human situations, including the fear of death, of strangers, and of "the other." Each of these leads to unique challenges, such as the specter of eternal damnation, the murderous culture of guns and capital punishment, and the emergence of right-wing nationalist populism. Most worrisome is the illusory security of deterrence, the idea that we can use the threat of nuclear war to prevent nuclear war!

    Threats are so widespread that we often don't realize how deeply they are ingrained in our minds or how profoundly and counter-productively they operate. Animals, humans, societies, and even countries internalize threats, behind which lie a myriad of intriguing questions: How do we know when to take a threat seriously? When do threats make things worse? Can they make things better? What can we do to use them wisely rather than destructively? In a comprehensive exploration into questions like these, noted scientist David P. Barash explains some of the most important characteristics of life as we know it.

  • Post Growth: Life After Capitalism

    Monday, 17 May 2021
    Capitalism is broken. The relentless pursuit of more has delivered climate catastrophe, social inequality and financial instability – and left us ill-prepared for life in a global pandemic. Tim Jackson’s passionate and provocative book dares us to imagine a world beyond capitalism – a place where relationship and meaning take precedence over profits and power. Post Growth is both a manifesto for system change and an invitation to rekindle a deeper conversation about the nature of the human condition. You can order a copy here.

  • The Fascinating Memoir of a “Citizen Pilgrim”: Q&A with Richard Falk

    Monday, 10 May 2021

    Check out the new interview in Counterpunch with Richard Falk about his new book. Read the full interview here and an excerpt below.

    Will this happen? We should know from experience that the future unfolds in unpredictable ways. There are hints that there are active cultural tremors seeking transition to an ecologically oriented civilization. There are also contradictory signs that the human species has no collective will to survive beyond its own mortality. My response is that since the future is unknowable and has given rise throughout history to major unpredicted changes for better and worse, we have no excuse but to struggle as best we can for the future we prefer. We are living in an unprecedented time in human history signaled by geologists and others identifying this epoch as the Anthropocene in recognition of the fact that human activity has the capability to impact on the basic ecological balances of the earth. In this sense, the necessary utopia as seen from the perspective of the dysfunctional present is nothing other than ‘responsible anthropocentrism,’ entailing renegotiating our relations with nature, the future, and learning to live together on the planet in a spirit of coexistence and dialogue.

  • Next Steps for a People's Vaccine

    Monday, 10 May 2021
    Jayati Ghosh penned a recent op-ed in Project Syndicate about the importance of public vaccine manufacturing:

    The case for public production becomes even stronger when one considers that private vaccine producers have little financial incentive to meet current global needs. Once the pandemic is contained, the demand for vaccines is likely to revert to much lower “normal” levels. To win the race against the virus, we must build and deploy public manufacturing capacities in the US and other countries. And when COVID-19 is brought to heel, these facilities should be maintained for future pandemics.

    You can read the full article here.

  • Covid-19 in India—profits before people

    Tuesday, 04 May 2021
    Jayati Ghosh writes in Social Europe about the Indian government's privileging of profits over people in response to COVID:

    Only on April 16th, after the pandemic had reached crisis proportions across India and showed no signs of abatement, did the central government finally move to allow three public enterprises to make the vaccine—though three other public-run units, with greater expertise and capacity, were inexplicably left out. Even these new units will now need several months to gear up for production.

    In the interim, in a uniquely cynical strategy, the Modi government has passed the buck on vaccination to the states, without providing any funding—indeed making them pay higher prices. It has agreed with the private producers a pricing system whereby state governments already desperately short of finances and facing hard budget constraints will have to pay up to four times what the central government pays for the same vaccines. They are now also being allowed to import vaccines from abroad—they will have to bid on their own for that. To create such a Hunger Games among state governments, without central funding and procurement of vaccines for every resident, can only have disastrous outcomes.

    You can read the full article here.

  • Nobel Prize Laureates and Other Experts Issue Urgent Call for Action After ‘Our Planet, Our Future’ Summit

    Tuesday, 04 May 2021
    Last week, following the 2021 Nobel Prize Summit, a group of Nobel laureates and other experts, including GTN member Johan Rockström, issued a call for far-reaching global action on climate change and other global crises:

    We need to reinvent our relationship with planet Earth. The future of all life on this planet, humans and our societies included, requires us to become effective stewards of the global commons — the climate, ice, land, ocean, freshwater, forests, soils, and rich diversity of life that regulate the state of the planet, and combine to create a unique and harmonious life-support system. There is now an existential need to build economies and societies that support Earth system harmony rather than disrupt it.

    You can read the full letter -- and list of signers -- here.

  • Climate manipulation? Not all 'solutions' should be advanced

    Tuesday, 04 May 2021
    Jennie Stephens recently co-authored an editorial for The Hill warning against the inclusion of geoengineering in our approach to climate mitigation:

    As the Biden-Harris administration advances an all-of-government approach to the worsening climate crisis, we need to acknowledge that not all proposed climate solutions should be advanced. Solar geoengineering, a controversial proposed set of technologies that could potentially cool the planet by reflecting incoming sunlight back to space, used to be on the fringes of climate policy.

    You can read the full piece here.

  • Paradigm Shift: An Overview of Global and Local Ecosocial Challenges

    Friday, 09 April 2021

    On March 25, Asoka Bandarage gave a presentation at the Sri Lankan National Trust entitled "Paradigm Shift: Global and Local Ecosocial Challenges." You can read a description below and watch the full talk here.

    While humanity has achieved incredible technological and material growth, ecosystems and human communities are collapsing due largely to that very advancement. The challenge before us is not the acceleration of competitive, economic and technological growth and the creation of a ‘post- nature’, ‘post-human’ world but a fundamental transformation to a balanced path of social and psychological development. This presentation will explore the worldview of domination underlying the contemporary market and technological paradigm and the worldview of partnership that would underlie an alternative ecological paradigm. Drawing upon the presenter’s book, Sustainability and Well-Being: The Middle Path to Environment, Society and the Economy (Palgrave MacMillan), this presentation will seek to provide an integrated ecosocial approach defining sustainability as simultaneously constituting the well-being of the human species and that of the natural world.

    Drawing from a wide range of information and academic disciplines, the presentation will provide an overview of the fundamental shift in consciousness, public policy and social action needed for ecological and social protection at both the global and the local Sri Lankan levels.

  • UNESCO's Future of Education Initiative

    Tuesday, 06 April 2021

    UNESCO’s Futures of Education initiative has been catalysing a global debate on how education, learning and knowledge need to be re-imagined in a world of increasing complexity, uncertainty, and fragility.  This consultation has engaged nearly a million people already and has helped to inform the Report that the International Commission on the Futures of Education is in the process of preparing.  

    The International Commission has now released a Progress Update (March 2021) that provides background information on the initiative and its ambitions, the provisional outline of the report, and an explanation of the main points and arguments currently envisioned for each section and sub-section

    It would be of great use to the International Commission to receive comments and suggestions on this Progress Update—particularly around: 

    (a) the coherence of the arguments presented

    (b) what elements need further attention, development or are missing, and

    (c) what is most novel and promising about the forthcoming Report as currently envisioned.  

    The Commission's March 2021 Progress Update may be viewed and/or downloaded here.

    Responses should be received by 30th April 2021 and may be submitted either through the online platform below, or sent by email to email to futuresofeducation@unesco.org.

  • An open letter to Joe Biden on International Corporate Taxation

    Monday, 01 March 2021
    Jayati Ghosh, Jose Antonio Ocampo, and Joseph E. Stiglitz penned an open letter to US President Joe Biden calling on him to lead on comprehensive, multilateral tax reform to eliminate tax evasion and avoidance. Read the full letter here and an excerpt below:

    As members of the Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation (ICRICT), we urge you to fulfill your promise to “lead efforts internationally to bring transparency to the global financial system, go after illicit tax havens, seize stolen assets, and make it more difficult for leaders who steal from their people to hide behind anonymous front companies.” To do that, your administration should engage actively in ongoing efforts to overhaul the international tax system to ensure fair taxation of multinationals, which is currently being discussed within the G20-mandated OECD process.

    Unfortunately, these negotiations have not gone well. The governments of leading member states (including the previous US administration) have negotiated under the misplaced assumption that their national interest is best served by protecting those multinationals headquartered within their borders. Discussions on the reform of international taxation have thus sacrificed common ambition to the lowest common denominator.

  • What POST-COVID-19 lifestyles may look like? Identifying scenarios and their implications for sustainability

    Monday, 01 March 2021
    Fabián Echegaray reflects on the possible futures stemming out of the COVID-19 crisis in his new article "What POST-COVID-19 lifestyles may look like? Identifying scenarios and their implications for sustainability" for Sustainable Production and Consumption. Read an excerpt below and the full website here.

    The COVID-19 pandemic has deeply disrupted society´s priorities and individuals’ lifestyles with major implications for sustainable development. Economic shutdown and social isolation reduced society's ecological footprint by lowering transportation and industrial activity while prompting families to engage in non-commercialized modes of leisure and social relations. Yet economic recession has intensified problems of under-consumption and poverty, while social isolation has worsened physical and mental illness.

    The pandemic's short-term effects are visible to everyone experiencing it, yet the global health crisis will also have long-term effects which are presently unknown but whose configurations can be spotted by identifying scenarios based upon individual relations with their material, symbolic and social environments. This perspective article reviews changes in two critical domains of practice: consumption and social relations, based on a theory of scarcity, and proposes an approach to foresee post-COVID-19 scenarios across several areas of social practice. The experience of scarcity in consumption and socializing redefines priorities and values yielding two ideal-types of responses for each domain: the assimilation of reduced levels of material wellbeing and social interactions or the drive for self-indulgence to compensate sacrifices in those areas.

    Four different lifestyle scenarios are thereby generated based on that analytical framework, enabling the identification of long-term scenarios, beyond the simplistic old normal versus new normal dichotomy. Grounded in available secondary data and relying on the recent Brazilian experience, which can be generalized to other Global South contexts, this proposed framework illustrates distinctive behavioral patterns for each lifestyle across ten areas of practice.

  • Half-Earth or Whole-Earth?

    Sunday, 28 February 2021
    Ashish Kothari's new article "Half-Earth or Whole-Earth? Green or transformative recovery? Where are the voices from the Global South?" was published in Oryx magazine. Read the first few paragraphs below and the full article here.

    A debate is swirling around various bold proposals to protect biodiversity. One of these proposals arose in part from E.O. Wilson's (2016) book Half-Earth: Our Planet's Fight for Life. The essence of the idea is summarized by the Half-Earth Project (2021), which ‘…is working to conserve half the land and sea to safeguard the bulk of biodiversity, including ourselves’. Critics have argued the idea is fraught with implications for human rights, likely to be ineffective and that—contrary to the proposal—transformations in economic activity across the Earth are needed to bring us within ecological limits (Büscher et al., 2017).

    In parallel to this and related ideas (e.g. CBD, 2020), new approaches to development in a post COVID-19 world are being proposed, some of which—such as nature-based solutions—are attracting mainstream attention. The basic tenets, of acting in accordance with the principles and flows of nature, with sustainable management and use of nature for tackling socio-environmental challenges, are unexceptionable. But this approach too ignores the power and rights dimensions of such solutions, and lends itself to another kind of greenwash, in which corporations and governments continue their destructive activities while paying or pressurizing others to offset them (Global Forest Coalition, 2020a).

    But what I find of greatest concern in all these proposals and approaches is their origin in the Global North. Most of the proponents, and even many of their critics, are based in institutions in northern or western countries, or in the rich and powerful sections of the south. Noticeably missing or weakly represented are voices from the Global South (e.g. Agrawal, 2020), including Indigenous people or other local communities who live amidst or use the areas containing most biodiversity.

  • The US Returns to the Paris Agreement Today—With Lots of Work Ahead for the World

    Tuesday, 23 February 2021
    With the US re-entering the Paris Climate Accord, what does that mean for the future of international climate policy? Tom Athanasiou explores this question and more in The Nation in his article "The US Returns to the Paris Agreement Today—With Lots of Work Ahead for the World." You can read the full article here and an excerpt below.

    As the United States reenters the Paris circle, a bit of reflection is in order. Scientists are terrified, and delivering messages that are difficult to hear, particularly now, when we have good reasons to doubt that our political systems will rise to the challenge. Despair, with the complacency it can breed, is a real danger. It’s easy to see why many people believe the accord’s weaknesses is more evidence of the larger institutional impotence.

    In fact, though, the Paris Agreement can work, but the first crucial steps must be completed, soon. This year will bring the new emission reductions pledges. Finance breakthroughs will also have to come, and we have to face the new science (which, by the way, is not all dark). Then, in 2023, there will be the “global stock take,” in which the world’s nations will be asked if they’ve done enough.

  • Relationship-to-Profit: A Theory of Business, Markets, and Profit for Social Ecological Economics

    Monday, 22 February 2021
    Jennifer Hinton recently completed her PhD dissertation at Stockholm University, entitled "Relationship-to-Profit: A Theory of Business, Markets, and Profit for Social Ecological Economics." You can read about it below and read it here.

    How does the relationship between business and profit affect social and ecological sustainability? Many sustainability scholars have identified competition for profit in the market as a key driver of social exploitation and environmental destruction. Yet, studies rarely question whether businesses and markets have to be profit-seeking. The widespread existence of not-for-profit forms of business, which approach profit as a means to achieving social benefit, suggests that there are other ways of organizing business and markets that might be more sustainable.

    In this thesis, I use a critical institutional economics lens and systems thinking to synthesize existing theory and knowledge about how business, markets, and profit affect sustainability outcomes, in order to explain how alternative approaches to these institutions might produce different outcomes. The result is a new theory about how relationship-to-profit (the legal difference between for-profit and not-for-profit forms of business) plays a key role in the sustainability of an economy, due to the ways in which it guides and constrains actors’ behavior, and drives larger market dynamics.

    In Paper 1, I develop a conceptual framework for understanding the tradeoffs and synergies between profit and social-ecological sustainability. I show how profit-seeking strategies can be examined to assess whether they derive profit from: efficiency gains; willing and informed contributions from social stakeholders; or exploitation of social or ecological stakeholders. These bounded sources of profit imply limits to profit. Therefore, in order for businesses and markets to be sustainable, they should treat profit as a means rather than an end in itself. In Paper 2, I explain that whether profit is treated as a means or an end manifests through both voluntary objectives (i.e., if a business explicitly pursues profit as a goal) and financial rights (i.e., the right or obligation to distribute profit to private owners). 

    Some forms of business encourage profit-as-an-end more than others. In Paper 3, I outline ideal types of for-profit and not-for-profit economies, and describe the expected dynamics of these systems based on the regulative aspects of relationship-to-profit. The legal purpose, ownership (i.e., private financial rights), and corresponding investment structures of for-profit forms of business all encourage firms to treat profit as an end. The pursuit of unlimited financial gain and the private distribution of the surplus by for-profit businesses tend to drive the growth of consumerism, environmental degradation, inequality, market concentration, and political capture. In a not-for-profit type of economy, businesses do not have a financial gain purpose or private financial rights. Profit in such a system is used as a means to achieve social benefit. This results in higher levels of equality and opens up the space for more effective sustainability interventions.

    Yet, relationship-to-profit is only one dimension of business that is important for sustainability. In Paper 4, I develop a framework to structure analyses and wider discussions of post-growth business around five key dimensions of business: (1) relationship-to-profit, (2) incorporation structure, (3) governance, (4) strategy, and (5) size and geographical scope. 

    The theory developed in this thesis offers an explanation of how key institutional elements of business and markets drive social and ecological sustainability outcomes.

  • New Memoir by Richard Falk

    Wednesday, 17 February 2021

    Richard Falk's memoir Public Intellectual: The Life of a Citizen Pilgrim was published earlier this month. Read about it below -- and order a copy here.

    This political memoir reveals how Richard Falk became prominent in America and internationally as both a public intellectual and citizen pilgrim. Falk built a life of progressive commitment, highlighted by visits to North Vietnam where he met PM Pham Von Dong, to Iran during the Islamic Revolution after meeting Khomeini in Paris, to South Africa where he met with Nelson Mandela at the height of the struggle against apartheid, and frequently to Palestine and Israel. His memoir is studded with encounters with well-known public figures in law, academia, political activism and even Hollywood. Falk mentored the thesis of Robert Mueller, taught David Petraeus.

    His publications and activism describe various encounters with embedded American militarism, especially as expressed by governmental resistance to responsible efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons, and his United Nations efforts on behalf of the rights of the Palestinian people. In 2010 he was named Outstanding Public Scholar in Political Economy by the International Studies Association. He has been nominated annually for the Nobel Peace Prize since 2009.

  • Jayati Ghosh Named by UN to High-Level Advisory Board on Economic, Social Affairs

    Thursday, 28 January 2021
    GTN member Jayati Ghosh is among 20 prominent economists appointed by the United Nations to a high-level advisory board that will provide recommendations for the UN Secretary-General to respond to the current and future socio-economic challenges in the post-COVID-19 world. You can find the full list here.

  • The New Possible: Visions of Our World Beyond Crisis

    Wednesday, 27 January 2021
    Several GTN members had esasys featured in the new collection The New Possible: Visions of Our World Beyond Crisis:
    Will pandemic, protests, economic instability and social distance lead to deeper inequalities, more nationalism and further erosion of democracies around the world?

    Or are we moving toward a global re-awakening to the importance of community, mutual support, and the natural world? In our lifetimes, the future has never been so up for grabs.

    The New Possible offers twenty-eight unique visions of what can be, if instead of choosing to go back to normal, we choose to go forward to something far better.

    Authors include Mamphela Ramphele, Helena Norberg-Hodge, David Korten, Riane Eisler, Arturo Escobar, Jeremy Lent, Ellen Brown, and David Bollier. You can order a copy here.

  • Four Ways Biden Can Boost the Global Economy -- Jayati Ghosh

    Tuesday, 26 January 2021
    In a recent article for Project Syndicate, Jayati Ghosh outlines four ways President Joe Biden can boost the global economy:

    (1) drop all objections to a World Trade Organization proposal to waive temporarily certain intellectual-property obligations in response to COVID-19

    (2) allow the International Monetary Fund to provide a new allocation of Special Drawing Rights to all its member countries

    (3) cooperate with other countries to create an effective global system for taxing multinationals’ profits

    (4) rejoining the Paris Agreement

    You can read the full article here.

  • Amsterdam Embraces "Doughnut Economics"

    Monday, 25 January 2021
    Time Magazine recently profiled the ity of Amsterdam's embrace of Kate Raworth's "doughnut economics." Read an excerpt below and the full article here.

    In April 2020, during the first wave of COVID-19, Amsterdam’s city government announced it would recover from the crisis, and avoid future ones, by embracing the theory of “doughnut economics.” Laid out by British economist Kate Raworth in a 2017 book, the theory argues that 20th century economic thinking is not equipped to deal with the 21st century reality of a planet teetering on the edge of climate breakdown. Instead of equating a growing GDP with a successful society, our goal should be to fit all of human life into what Raworth calls the “sweet spot” between the “social foundation,” where everyone has what they need to live a good life, and the “environmental ceiling.” By and large, people in rich countries are living above the environmental ceiling. Those in poorer countries often fall below the social foundation. The space in between: that’s the doughnut.

  • No Safe Options: A Conversation with Andreas Malm

    Wednesday, 13 January 2021

    Wen Stephenson has a new interview with Swedish scholar and climate activist Andreas Malm in the LA Review of Books. The interview focuses on Malm's new provocatively titled How to Blow Up a Pipeline: Learning to Fight in a World on Fire.

    Of the book, Stephenson writes, "Malm’s new book will no doubt be dismissed by a lot of very serious people, including climate activists and policy advocates, as fringe and even dangerous. That would be a very serious mistake. Nothing could be more dangerous at this moment in human history than a blind faith in politics — or activism — as usual."

    You can read the interview here.

  • "Trump happens when cultures believe private can cover for public "

    Wednesday, 13 January 2021
    Duncan Austin has a new article in Responsible Investor entitled "Trump happens when cultures believe private can cover for public."

    Here is a brief summary of the article:

    History shows that when cultures favour ‘private’ too much, tyrants emerge and public problems accumulate that private cannot fix.

    This time, the lurch to ‘private’ has been rationalized by the belief that markets ‘have it all covered’ and, hence, all we need is ‘minimal’ government to uphold property rights. The mantra of our times: ‘markets are the solution/government is the problem’.

    But ‘government is the problem’ becomes self-fulfilling. Persistent discrediting of government drives the best of society into the silos of private business and a vacuum slowly forms in the public square into which ambitious men are emboldened to venture. Tyrants emerge when we believe it safe simply to 'mind our own business'.

    The same 'anti-public' narrative underlies the widespread belief we can solve global public goods problems primarily via voluntary private effort. To fit with the times, ESG has claimed that solving problems like climate change is a 'win-win': “Government can’t be the solution. But, Unilever and Tesla can fix things instead…”

    Now may be the time for the ESG community to think about whether its core ‘win-win’proposition holds true, or whether it is a belief forced upon it by our 'anti-public' times. It may also be the moment to ask corporations to suspend political donations permanently and to front up to the reality that our sustainability challenges have real costs we can no longer ignore.

    You can read the full article here.

  • Cities, Sustainability, and Complex Dissipative Systems

    Monday, 28 December 2020
    Gilberto Gallopín has a new article, entitled "Cities, Sustainability, and Complex Dissipative Systems. A Perspective" in Frontiers in Sustainable Cities. In it, he critiques conventional notions of urban sustainability, arguing, "...because cities are dissipative structures, a city cannot be sustainable if the system is defined as the city itself in isolation from its environment." He further uses the Global Scenario Group's scenarios to analyze how the Earth System itself could change and the implications this would have on subsystems.

    You can read the full piece here.

  • SHE Changes Climate Open Letter

    Friday, 11 December 2020
    This month, more than 400 female climate leaders, including Kate Raworth, Roz Savage, and Sandrine Dixson-Declève sent an open letter to the UK Government, calling on them for greater accountability and transparency on male/female parity on the UK COP26 leadership team. The three demands of the letter were

    1. A balanced representation of men and women at the high-level team for COP26. Embrace women’s equal participation and support gender equality (GAP). COP26 approach is transparent and accountable.

    2. Show global leadership by ensuring the UK’s updated Nationally Determined Contribution includes a gender analysis and commitment to tackling gender inequality via action on reducing emissions.

    3. Ensure climate finance is gender inclusive (developing minimum standards) to increase accessibility to finance for women-led and women’s rights organisations addressing climate change impacts on the front line.

    You can read the full letter here.

  • The Great Unraveling? Series

    Thursday, 10 December 2020
    Over the summer, the Post Carbon Institute hosted a series of interviews with some of the world’s foremost experts on a broad range of environmental and societal challenges, to set a foundation for understanding the accelerating and interrelated stresses we face. Among the interviewees were GTN members Johan Rockström, Nnimmo Bassey, Walden Bello, and Richard Heinberg.

    You can watch the series here.

  • What Could Possibly Go Right? Interview Series

    Thursday, 10 December 2020
    In this new interview series for the Post Carbon Institute, Vicki Robin, activist and best-selling author on sustainable living, talks with provocative thought leaders about emerging possibilities and ways humanity might step onto a better, post-pandemic path. You can watch the episodes here.

  • Reform of Global Taxation Cannot Wait

    Tuesday, 08 December 2020
    In a new piece in Social Europe, Jayati Ghosh argues that global tax reform to avoid givewaways and loopholes favoring the rich andlarge corporations is more important now than ever.

    We can no longer afford to allow this. This is not only because of concerns about the massive inequality it encourages, the injustice and the absence of level playing-fields for all taxpayers. Most important, right now, is that governments across the world—even those which have used central-bank liquidity to increase spending immediately—must make even larger expenditures in coming days.

    They will have to deal with the pandemic and its effects on economies, support and provide social protection to those devastated by economic collapse, address and cope with the climate crisis and try to meet the United Nations sustainable development goals, which have been hugely set back. No country can afford the luxury of coddling its richest residents and large corporations by allowing this tax avoidance and evasion—and the international community cannot continue to look the other way as vast sums are denied to governments and their citizens.

    You can read the full piece here.

  • The Biden Presidency: A New Era, or a Fragile Interregnum?

    Tuesday, 08 December 2020
    In his new article "The Biden Presidency: A New Era, or a Fragile Interregnum?," Walden Bello argues that a return to orthodox centrist policies will be a disaster and that progressives must seize the opportunity. Read the full article here and an excerpt below.

    As Marx said, history first occurs as tragedy, then as farce.

    Owing to the erosion of the credibility of globalization and neoliberalism, the return to an anachronistic orthodox centrism is not likely to hold. It will serve at best as an extremely unstable, short-lived interregnum amidst deepening polarization between left and right.

    In this struggle, the far right — under the leadership of a charismatic personality who, while he lost the elections, will continue to be the dominant figure in Republican Party politics in the Biden era — is currently far more united politically and ideologically than the left. Trump’s heated mass base and traditional Republican conservatives will combine to make even pallid technocratic centrist initiatives, like Bernanke and Yellen’s quantitative easing, very difficult to push through. The coming Biden era may well be a mere interregnum in a political trajectory of the far right’s rise to power.

    Or it can be the antechamber to a new era in progressive politics, an outcome that will depend on whether the left can mobilize the Democratic Party’s base of workers, progressives, and minorities to seize the initiative from a center that is devoid of both ideas and courage to break with the past.

  • Diversifying Power: Why We Need Antiracist, Feminist Leadership on Climate and Energy

    Thursday, 03 December 2020
    This webinar, part of SCORAI's speaker series, will explore connections between the field of sustainable consumption and ideas presented in Stephens’ recent book, Diversifying Power, which shows that anyone working on issues related to energy or climate (directly or indirectly) can leverage the power of collective action. The work to shift away from an extractive, oppressive energy system has already begun. By highlighting the creative individuals and organizations making change happen, Diversifying Power provides inspiration and encourages action on climate and energy justice.

    Stephens argues that the key to effectively addressing the climate crisis is diversifying leadership so that antiracist, feminist priorities are central. Stephens examines climate and energy leadership related to job creation and economic justice, health and nutrition, and housing and transportation. She explains why we need to reclaim and restructure climate and energy systems so policies are explicitly linked to social, economic, and racial justices.

    Watch the webinar here.

    Jennie C. Stephens is an educator, social justice advocate, energy expert and sustainability science researcher. She is a professor and Director of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University where she also holds leadership roles at the Global Resilience Institute and the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program.

  • On Laudato Si', Fratelli Tutti, and the Terminal Decline of Patriarchal Civilization

    Wednesday, 02 December 2020
    The encyclical letter Laudato Si' (Pope Francis, 2015) is about "everything is connected." The encyclical letter Fratelli Tutti (Pope Francis, 2020) is about "everyone is connected." But what about the artificial disconnections that are induced by the patriarchal culture? What about the artificial disconnections due to patriarchal gender ideology? What about the artificial disconnections due to religious patriarchy? The patriarchal religions are a grave obstacle to integral human development, and the transition to an integral ecology, during the terminal decline of patriarchal civilizatio, Luis Gutierrez argues in a new http://www.pelicanweb.org/solisustv16n12page24.html.

  • The Transformative Potential of the Not-for-Profit Economy

    Wednesday, 02 December 2020

    In July, Jennifer Hinton delievered a Schumacher Lecture on " The Transformative Potential of the Not-for-Profit Economy." It is now available on YouTube here. Read a description below.

    ‘…….the institutional layers of ‘profit-orientation’ and ‘legal purpose’ play a key role in determining a firm’s behaviour. ….Therefore, the most common business structures in an economy play an essential role in generating the system dynamics seen on the macro-level of the economy.

    I ….explore the emergence of not-for-profit forms of business and explore how an economy made up of institutions designed to deliver social benefit might lead to very different system dynamics. In doing so, I …present a range of scenarios developed using systems analysis methods to explore how legal business frameworks shape system behaviour on the macro-level of the economy…….I explore the potential of different business structures as a key leverage point for systemic transformation to a more socially and ecologically sustainable economy.

  • A Time to Choose | Allen White in TNI

    Tuesday, 01 December 2020
    Allen White's article "A time to choose" was published this morning on the Transnational Institute's blog. In it, he surveys how the COVID-19 pandemic and concurrent crises create a branch point, with multiple scenarios emergent and the final decision dependent on our actions.

    As he says in the conclusion,

    "As the complexity of the pandemic becomes increasingly evident, forecasting is fraught with uncertainty. From a GT perspective, this very complexity may prove to be an asset rather than an impediment to systemic change. Because of the intersectional nature of actors and impacts, COVID-19 signals an inflection point for mobilizing across boundaries and issues.

    The time is ripe for a surge of such formations, powered by shared grievance, conscious of a rare conjuncture of events, and enabled by technology.  Will we seize the moment?"

    You can read the article here.

  • Human Security in World Affairs

    Alex Lautensach

    Wednesday, 18 November 2020

    As a new member to the GT Network, I would like to introduce two books that are the culmination of my professional activities over the past half decade. The first is a textbook. Both books have relevance for the GT context.

    Lautensach, A.K. & S.W. Lautensach (eds.). 2020. Human Security in World Affairs: Problems and Opportunities, 2nd edition. Prince George, Canada: UNBC; Victoria, Canada: BCcampus. https://opentextbc.ca/humansecurity/.

    Human security has been endorsed by the UN since 1994 as a comprehensive goal for development at all levels. It rests on the four pillars of socio-political security, health security, economic security and environmental security.

    What distinguishes this open-access university textbook on human security?

    * This is still the only textbook of human security of its kind, to our knowledge. Its themes are relevant for a wide range of academic areas.
    * Its 22 chapter authors include academics and activists from all over the world.
    * It is accessible entirely online, free of charge, including free downloading, at a time when online course delivery is being prioritized and students are less able than ever to afford costly hardcopy texts. Nevertheless, hardcopies can be ordered from the website.
    * It addresses diverse aspects of human security, especially health security, that are at the forefront of current world affairs in the COVID context and the Anthropocene predicament. Implications of GT scenarios are discussed.

    Lautensach, A.K. 2020. Survival How? Education, Crisis, Diachronicity and the Transition to a Sustainable Future. Paderborn, Germany: Schoeningh-Brill. E-Book & Paperback Publication Date: 16 Nov 2020. https://brill.com/flyer/title/53644

    This impassioned call for reforming education at all levels takes into account the inevitable transition to a sustainable future of some sort. If that future includes humans, diverse composite scenarios are still possible for us and the biosphere. With the help of appropriately reformed education, the coming generations can sway their fate towards the more secure scenarios. This will require Deep Adaptation, ecocentric ethics and a new view on ‘progress’, as well as ‘cultural learning’ at the collective level.

    A summary is given here: Lautensach, A.K. 2020. "Educating Teachers as if Sustainability Mattered." International Portal of Teacher Education. The MOFET Institute. http://education.eng.macam.ac.il/article/5031.

    I look forward to contributing to discussions and initiatives of this unique network!

  • Economics and Climate Emergency

    Wednesday, 18 November 2020

    Barry Gills co-authored the introductory essay to a new Globalizations special issue on Economics and the Climate Emergency.

    In this essay we provide introductory comment for the collection of solicited essays on Economics and Climate Emergency. In the first section we suggest that recent critique of the climate movement has broader systemic significance and this is indicative of issues that bear on the collected essays. In the following section we rehearse some of the standard arguments leading to complacency and delay to action on climate change and ecological breakdown. In the last section we set out the broad themes of the essays.

    You can read the full essay here.

  • Job Opening: Full-Time Lecturer, Sustainability Policy and Planning, Tufts University

    Shelly Krimsky

    Monday, 09 November 2020

    Tufts University School of Arts and Sciences: Faculty Search


    Full-time Lecturer (non-tenure track): Sustainability Policy and Planning

    The Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning (UEP) is seeking a full-time lecturer in Sustainability Policy and Planning to start September 1, 2021. UEP is an interdisciplinary department that is dedicated to research and education at the intersection of social justice and sustainability.

    Position Description

    The primary research and teaching interests of the successful candidate should be in the area of sustainability and may include: sustainability policy/planning and/or science, sustainable solutions, systems performance, sustainability metrics and decision tools, and the impacts of sustainability solutions on marginalized communities. Additional fields may include: resilient urban ecosystems, multispecies planning and decision making, the role of social equity and physical vulnerability in disaster recovery, infrastructure and transportation planning, resilient urban design, and related areas. An important secondary qualification of the successful candidate will be a strong competency in research methods, which may comprise but not be limited to, data visualization techniques, quantitative methods, qualitative methods, GIS, remote sensing, and/or big data analytics.

    The candidate will be expected to develop and teach core and elective courses in the department's programs in Sustainability (MS) and Environmental Policy & Planning (MS), including the core course Socio-ecological Systems Thinking for Sustainability and electives in his/her/their field of concentration. The candidate will also serve as a thesis and capstone advisor to masters level graduate students. The successful candidate will be expected to grow UEP's new MS in Sustainability, serving as program director and internship coordinator. Responsibilities consist of four courses per year plus thesis advising, administrative responsibilities, and participation in department and university committees.


    A Ph.D with a focus on sustainability or a Ph.D. with substantial sustainability-related experience. Candidates in the following fields are encouraged to apply: urban planning, civil and environmental engineering, environmental science and agriculture, geography and related disciplines with a focus on sustainability. A record of scholarship is desirable. Connections with professional practice in sustainability will be highly valued.

    Application Instructions

    All application materials must be submitted via Interfolio at: apply.interfolio.com/xxx. Submit a cover letter, CV, teaching statement, names of three references, and evidence of effective teaching and mentorship, such as student evaluations or letters of support (three maximum) from students or peers about teaching and mentoring experience. Questions about the position may be addressed to the Department Administrator Maria Nicolau at maria.nicolau@tufts.edu. Review of applications will start on November 1, 2020 and will continue until the position is filled.

    Tufts University, founded in 1852, prioritizes quality teaching, highly competitive basic and applied research, and a commitment to active citizenship locally, regionally and globally. Tufts University also prides itself on creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive community. Current and prospective employees of the university are expected to have and continuously develop skill in, and disposition for, positively engaging with a diverse population of faculty, staff, and students.

    Tufts University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. We are committed to increasing the diversity of our faculty and staff and fostering their success when hired. Members of underrepresented groups are welcome and strongly encouraged to apply. See the University's Non-Descrimination Statement and Policy at: https://oeo.tufts.edu/policies-procedures/non-descrimination/. If you are an applicant with a disability who is unable to use our online tools to search and apply for jobs, please contact us by calling Johny Laine in the Office of Equal Opportunity (OED) at 617-627-3298 or at johny.laine@tufts.edu Applicants can learn more about requesting reasonable accommodations at http://oeo.tufts.edu.

  • Colloquium Series on Sustainable Farming - Fifth Talk

    Monday, 09 November 2020
    sustainable farming

  • Diversifying Patriarchal Leadership

    Wednesday, 04 November 2020
    Jennie Stephens recently wrote an op-ed for The Hill about the importance of diversifying leadership across fields to making us more resilient in our resposne to crises:
    Research on risk perceptions shows that white American men see all kinds of threats — from climate change to automobile accidents to cancer — as less risky than non-white American men and women. When women, people of color and Indigenous leaders join leadership spaces where they have been historically excluded from, they bring different perceptions of risk and a different capacity to center social justice. Therefore, diversifying leadership is essential to effectively balance risk perceptions and center social justice in our policies.

  • The Environmental Crisis: Metanarrative and the Moral Evolution of Modern Human Society

    Wednesday, 04 November 2020
    New Book by Stephen Purdey For anyone interested in the relationship between narrative and the global environmental crisis, this new book is now available online free (in pre-publication draft form) for comments. Visit https://stephenpurdey.ca and look under the ‘Metanarrative Project’ button. Here’s the blurb:

    The Environmental Crisis: Metanarrative and the Moral Evolution of Modern Human Society

    A major thesis of this book is that material and applied ethics approaches to the environmental crisis cannot succeed without the power of a legitimating discourse – a new metanarrative – which fundamentally changes the ideational landscape of human development. The self-induced peril we now face calls for comprehensive, interpretive, even philosophical sensibilities to tackle and resolve. This book aims to encourage the development of those sensibilities with a sustained focus on the moral dimension of human behavior on Earth.

  • Sustainability -- New Book by Maurie Cohen

    Friday, 30 October 2020

    From the publisher, on Maurie Cohen's new book Sustainability:

    Sustainability is one of the buzzwords of our times and a key imperative for economic growth, technological development, social equity, and environmental quality. But what does it really mean and how is it being implemented around the world?

    In this clear-eyed book, Maurie Cohen introduces students to the concept of sustainability, tracing its history and application from local land-use practices, construction techniques and reorientation of business models to national and global institutions seeking to foster sustainable practices. Examining sustainable development in scientific, technological, social and political terms, he shows that it remains an elusive concept and evidence of its unambiguous achievements can be difficult to ascertain. Moreover, developed and developing countries have formulated divergent agendas to engage the notion of sustainability, further complicating its application and progress across the world.

    You can order a copy of the book here.

    Maurie Sustainability

    To order a paperback copy with a 20% discount, go to www.politybooks.com and use code SUST1 at checkout. Discount valid until 31 January 2021.

  • “Final Solution” or Renewal?

    Wednesday, 21 October 2020
    In a new essay, Kavita Byrd lays out the stakes of our global future, evoking the GT scenarios:

    If we look clearly, we can see three basic forces contending today in a grand global showdown, determining the direction our world will take now and in the future: one — neoliberal capitalism, in a last-gasp grab for total global control; two — rising fascism, right-wing police states and martial law worldwide; or three — a progressive turn-around for ecological renewal, social justice and true participatory democracy, a communion of people and planet, at all scales local to global.

    Read the full piece here.

  • Jayati Ghosh: How the Green Revolution Is Harming Africa

    Thursday, 15 October 2020
    In a new article for Project Syndicate, Jayati Ghosh argues that well-intentioned efforts to improve food security in Africa are instead increasing small farmers’ dependence on global agribusinesses without raising their incomes, and making farming systems more fragile. You can read an excerpt below and the full piece here.

    This approach is exemplified by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), an initiative launched in 2006 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation. AGRA’s programs support the use of high-yielding commercial seeds, synthetic fertilizers, and chemical pesticides in a monocropping model to increase yields per acre. Surprisingly, advocates of this approach seem largely unaware that similar projects in many Asian developing countries previously produced medium-term results that were mixed at best and were often associated with major ecological problems.
    AGRA initially aimed to double the household incomes of 20 million small-scale African farmers by 2020, and halve food insecurity in 20 countries through productivity improvements. It then adopted the more ambitious targets of doubling yields and incomes for 30 million farming households by 2020. But with the deadline approaching, AGRA has shifted the goalposts, and is now promising, much more modestly, to increase incomes (by an unspecified amount) and improve food security for 30 million smallholder farm households in 11 African countries by 2021. In a recent response to criticism, AGRA was even more circumspect, claiming that its goal is to reach only nine million farmers directly and the remaining 21 million indirectly (though what that means is not clear).

  • Should ESG view sustainability as a quicksand problem?

    Tuesday, 13 October 2020
    Duncan Austin has a new article in Responsible Investor entitled "Should ESG view sustainability as a quicksand problem?". You can read the piece here.

    Paradoxes like this – ‘the solution is the problem’ – tend to be resisted by the human psyche. A metaphor might help. Our sustainability problem resembles the quicksand dilemma of old adventure movies. The hero falls into quicksand and must quickly escape or else drown, but every move he makes to escape only drags him further down.

    Ecological sustainability is a quicksand problem.

    Such ‘double bind’ problems repeat throughout the natural and social world. Within the private sector, they may be most familiar to those who have managed debt relationships near covenant thresholds. In such circumstances, the lender may fall into the trap that they can only avoid breaching covenants by taking on more debt, typically at worse terms. But this ‘solution’ only worsens the problem, bringing the lender ever closer to an irrecoverable debt spiral.

    In a way, it is a small pity that the ESG movement originated as an equity movement, because it is debt investors and their counterparties who likely have the better intuition for our predicament. For example, corporate treasurers who, in real time, manage cash liquidity levels and debt coverage ratios against pre-established covenants, will have an instinctive feel for our ecological problem of fundamentally the same form.   

  • Juliet Schor and Jennie Stephens on Their New Books

    Thursday, 08 October 2020
    Listen to Juliet Schor talk about her new book After the Gig: How the Sharing Economy Got Hijacked and How to Win It Back on WORT: Madison community radio.

    Listen to Jennie Stephens talk about her new book Diversifying Power: Why We Need Antiracist, Feminist Leadership on Climate and Energy on WAMC Northeast Public Radio.

    Purchase Juliet Schor's book here.
    Purchase Jennie Stephens's book here.

  • New Research on Nuclear Power and Renewable Energy

    Thursday, 08 October 2020
    Andy Stirling is the co-author of a new article in Nature Energy on nulear power and renewable energy, entitled "Differences in carbon emissions reduction between countries pursuing renewable electricity versus nuclear power:"

    Abstract: Two of the most widely emphasized contenders for carbon emissions reduction in the electricity sector are nuclear power and renewable energy. While scenarios regularly question the potential impacts of adoption of various technology mixes in the future, it is less clear which technology has been associated with greater historical emission reductions. Here, we use multiple regression analyses on global datasets of national carbon emissions and renewable and nuclear electricity production across 123 countries over 25 years to examine systematically patterns in how countries variously using nuclear power and renewables contrastingly show higher or lower carbon emissions. We find that larger-scale national nuclear attachments do not tend to associate with significantly lower carbon emissions while renewables do. We also find a negative association between the scales of national nuclear and renewables attachments. This suggests nuclear and renewables attachments tend to crowd each other out.

    Click here to read the full article.

  • The New Systems Reader: Alternatives to a Failed Economy

    Thursday, 08 October 2020
    The recognition is growing: truly addressing the problems of the 21st century requires going beyond small tweaks and modest reforms to business as usual—it requires "changing the system." But what does this mean? And what would it entail? The New Systems Reader, edited by Gus Speth and Kathleen Courrier, highlights some of the most thoughtful, substantive, and promising answers to these questions, drawing on the work and ideas of some of the world’s key thinkers and activists on systemic change. Amid the failure of traditional politics and policies to address our fundamental challenges, an increasing number of thoughtful proposals and real-world models suggest new possibilities, this book convenes an essential conversation about the future we want.

    You can pre-order a copy here. See discount information below.

    Thew New Systems Reader

  • Colloquium Series on Sustainable Farming

    Chella Rajan

    Monday, 28 September 2020
    Colloquium Series on Sustainable Farming

  • Ashish Kothari on "Reimagining Food"

    Wednesday, 16 September 2020
    Ashish Kothari writes about reimagining food and fighting for food justice in Food & Wine:

    In a world where food matters are dominated by powerful corporations and nation-states, and where vast numbers of the public believe that its entirely legitimate for such a situation to exist, struggles for food justice are very, very uphill. But they are not impossible, as thousands of examples of resistance and alternatives around the world demonstrate. Ongoing global crises including Covid-19, have created opportunities for such initiatives to gain legitimacy, to challenge the deep faults in the system, and demand that food justice be made as central to human well-being as the stomach is to the body.

    You can read the full article here.

  • Upstream Two-Part Documentary Series on a Basic Income

    Wednesday, 16 September 2020
    In a recent two-part series for Upstream Podcast, Della Duncan explores the idea of a universal basic income, interviewing economists, practitioners, and everyday people about this proposal and how it can contribute to a social and economic transformation.

    Interviewees include the following:
    • Julianna Bidadanure - Assistant professor in political philosophy at Stanford University
    • Doug Henwood - Journalist, economic analyst, and writer whose work has been featured in Harper’s, Jacobin Magazine, and The Nation
    • Rutger Bregman - Journalist and author of Utopia for Realists: The Case for a Universal Basic Income, Open Borders and a 15-hour Workweek
    • Kathi Weeks - Marxist feminist scholar, Associate Professor of Women’s Studies at Duke University and author of The Problem with Work: Feminism, Marxism, Antiwork Politics, and Postwork Imaginaries
    • Eric Richardson - A recipient of basic income / Mincome
    • Evelyn Forget - Economist and professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba and Academic Director of the Manitoba Research Data Centre ​
    • Erik Olin Wright - Marxist scholar and sociology professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison
    • Matt Bruenig - Writer, researcher, and founder of the People's Policy Project
    • Richard Wolff - Marxist economist, economics professor emeritus at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, founder of Democracy at Work, and host of the weekly radio show Economic Update
    • Martin Kirk - Co-founder and Director of Strategy at The Rules
    • Manda Scott- Novelist, columnist, and broadcaster
    • Sofa Gradin -Sofa Gradin - Political Organizer and Lecturer in Politics at King's College in London ​
    Listen to episode one here and episode two here.

  • Duncan Austin: Milton Friedman’s hazardous feedback loop

    Monday, 14 September 2020
    In light of the fiftieth anniversary of Milton Friedman's famous statement that the "social responsibility of business it to increase its profits," Dustin Austin approaches the question of social responsibility from a systems perspective, highlighting the perverse feedback loops created by Friedman's line of thinking:
    In a political system where corporations can influence policymaking – via lobbying, financial support for candidates, or other means – Friedman’s contention justifies corporations investing to shape policies in their interest. For, if the expected return on expenditures committed to influencing regulations is greater than a company’s weighted average cost of capital, and if lobbying against regulations is permitted under what Friedman terms the ‘rules of the game’, then the notion that companies have a social responsibility to maximize profits equates to firms having a social responsibility to resist any regulation that appears costly. Not all companies may choose to act this way, but the key is that companies have a profit incentive to do so and so enough companies will. And, over a long enough period, this will affect the behaviour of the whole system. 

  • Deeper City: Collective Intelligence and the Pathways from Smart to Wise

    Joe Ravetz

    Wednesday, 09 September 2020
    This is to introduce the new book - Deeper-City: Collective-Intelligence-and-the-Pathways-from-Smart-to-Wise. Deeper City sets out to explore collective intelligence – learning and thinking at higher levels. It addresses the combined challenges of cities, economies, ecologies, technologies and political systems. It maps out 40 ‘pathways’ in visual thinking, from local neighbourhoods to global finance, and from smart-wise cities to global climate. To explore further, you are invited to join the Conversations – a series of events on the theme of collective intelligence, each with an international panel, and interactive visual tools (online until November and then ‘blended’). Next event - Deeper City 3.0 – 09-11 - on Conversations Also you are invited to the visual ‘mind-games’ on the theme of Pandemic 3.0, on https://urban3.net/mind-games/.

  • Levers and Leverage Points for Pathways to Sustainability

    Friday, 04 September 2020
    Christopher Barrington-Leigh, Kai Chan, and Marcel Kok were among the co-authors of "Levers and Leverage Points for Pathways to Sustainability," published this month in People and Nature. You can read the abstract below and the full article here.

    1. Humanity is on a deeply unsustainable trajectory. We are exceeding planetary boundaries and unlikely to meet many international sustainable development goals and global environmental targets. Until recently, there was no broadly accepted framework of interventions that could ignite the transformations needed to achieve these desired targets and goals.

    2. As a component of the IPBES Global Assessment, we conducted an iterative expert deliberation process with an extensive review of scenarios and pathways to sustainability, including the broader literature on indirect drivers, social change and sustainability transformation. We asked, what are the most important elements of pathways to sustainability?

    3. Applying a social–ecological systems lens, we identified eight priority points for intervention (leverage points) and five overarching strategic actions and priority interventions (levers), which appear to be key to societal transformation. The eight leverage points are: (1) Visions of a good life, (2) Total consumption and waste, (3) Latent values of responsibility, (4) Inequalities, (5) Justice and inclusion in conservation, (6) Externalities from trade and other telecouplings, (7) Responsible technology, innovation and investment, and (8) Education and knowledge generation and sharing. The five intertwined levers can be applied across the eight leverage points and more broadly. These include: (A) Incentives and capacity building, (B) Coordination across sectors and jurisdictions, (C) Pre‐emptive action, (D) Adaptive decision‐making and (E) Environmental law and implementation. The levers and leverage points are all non‐substitutable, and each enables others, likely leading to synergistic benefits.

    4. Transformative change towards sustainable pathways requires more than a simple scaling‐up of sustainability initiatives—it entails addressing these levers and leverage points to change the fabric of legal, political, economic and other social systems. These levers and leverage points build upon those approved within the Global Assessment's Summary for Policymakers, with the aim of enabling leaders in government, business, civil society and academia to spark transformative changes towards a more just and sustainable world.

  • It's Already Tomorrow: Poems by Gus Speth

    Friday, 04 September 2020
    After award-winning books on environment and scores of articles, this is Gus Speth's second book of poetry. Speth has organized this collection around four ways we address the world: Love, Howl, Laugh, and Remember, which "cover a lot of life's territory." He writes in one poem that "the world bends with the weight of massive contradiction," and, as these poems depict, so do our lives.

    You can order a copy here.

  • The Oldest Trick in the Book by Ben Debney

    Friday, 04 September 2020
    Ben Debney's new book The Oldest Trick in the Book: Panic-Driven Scapegoating in History and Recurring Patterns of Persecution was published in July. You can read more below and order a copy here.

    This book investigates the normalisation of blame-shifting within ideological discourse as a broad feature of history, working from Churchill’s truism that history is written by the victors. To that end, it explores historical episodes of political persecution carried out under cover of moral panic, highlighting the process of ‘Othering’ common to each and theorising a historical model of panic-driven scapegoating from the results. Building this model from case studies in witch panic, communist panic and terrorist panic respectively, The Oldest Trick in the Book builds an argument that features common to each case study reflect broader historical patterning consistent with Churchill’s maxim. On this basis it argues that the periodic construction of bogeymen or ‘folk demons’ is a useful device for enabling the kind of victim-playing and victim-blaming critical to protecting elite privilege during periods of crisis and that in being a recurring theme historically, panic-driven scapegoating retains great ongoing value to the privileged and powerful, and thus conspicuously remains an ongoing feature of world politics.

  • The New Systems Reader: Alternatives to a Failed Economy

    Tuesday, 11 August 2020
    The New Systems Reader, edited by Gus Speth and Kathleen Courrier, tackles an essential question as the world faces a broken economy, climate catastrophe, deepening inequality, and the decay of institutional legitimacy: If truly addressing the problems of the 21st century requires "changing the system," what does that mean? The Reader highlights some of the most thoughtful, substantive, and promising answers to that question, drawing on the work and ideas of some of the world’s key thinkers and activists on systemic change. Amid the failure of traditional politics and policies to address our fundamental challenges, an increasing number of thoughtful proposals and real-world models suggest new possibilities. This book convenes an essential conversation about the future we want.

    You can order a copy of the book here.

  • "Still No Care for Care Workers"

    Monday, 20 July 2020
    In a new piece for Project Syndicate, Jayati Ghosh addresses the impact of COVID-19 on care workers:

    Decades of public neglect and underspending have brought us to the point that even an unprecedented global health emergency and economic collapse are not enough to make mistreatment of low-paid essential workers socially and politically unacceptable. Our applause is no longer enough to keep them keeping us safe.

    Read the full article here.

  • Addressing Inequality: The First Step Beyond COVID-19 and Towards Sustainability

    Monday, 13 July 2020
    Nicholas Ashford has co-authoered a new piece for Sustainability on the policy inteventions needed to steer us toward sustainability in the wake of COVID-19. You can read the article here and the abstract below.

    The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted billions of lives across the world and has revealed and worsened the social and economic inequalities that have emerged over the past several decades. As governments consider public health and economic strategies to respond to the crisis, it is critical they also address the weaknesses of their economic and social systems that inhibited their ability to respond comprehensively to the pandemic. These same weaknesses have also undermined efforts to advance equality and sustainability. This paper explores over 30 interventions across the following nine categories of change that hold the potential to address inequality, provide all citizens with access to essential goods and services, and advance progress towards sustainability.

  • Excluded Futures: The Continuity Bias in Scenario Assessments

    Monday, 13 July 2020
    Paul Raskin and Rob Swart's new article "Excluded Futures: The Continuity Bias in Scenario Assessments" was recently published in Sustainable Earth. You can read the abstract below and the full article here.

    Global scenario assessments in support of climate, biodiversity, energy and other international policy deliberations tend to focus on a narrow bandwidth of possibilities: futures that unfold gradually from current patterns and trends. This “continuity bias” downplays the real risks (and opportunities) of structural discontinuity in the evolution of the global social-ecological system. The inclination to focus on mathematically tractable representations and conventional futures preferred by decision-makers is understandable, but constrains the scientific imagination and the scope of policy guidance. Earlier studies spotlighted discontinuous global futures, thereby revealing a broader spectrum of possibilities and repertoire of actions than found in contemporary scenario analysis. The paper revisits three types of futures introduced 25 years ago; examines three truths they convey about the contemporary moment; and points to three courses of action they suggest. Contemporary assessments centre on incrementally changing Conventional Worlds, yet varieties of global disruption (Barbarization) and progressive transformation (Great Transition) remain plausible alternatives. Corresponding to this triad, three synergistic action prongs—reform (incremental policies), remediation (emergency preparedness and prevention), and redesign (deep cultural and institutional change)—come into focus. Recovering a comprehensive perspective on the global possible would reinvigorate debate on the kind of transformation needed, broaden the action agenda, and stimulate innovative research for illuminating our indeterminate future. The COVID-19 pandemic, a concrete illustration of historical discontinuity, underscores the critical importance of emphasizing nonconventional futures in policy assessments.

  • Walden Bello, Jayati Ghosh, and Ashish Kothari featured in ourVoices Podcast

    Jonathan Cohn

    Thursday, 25 June 2020
    Jayati Ghosh, Yanis Varoufakis, Walden Bello, and Ashish Kothari were featured guests on a recent episode of openDemocracy's podcast ourVoices. On it, they and other insightful guests dicuss how the rules of today’s global economy are skewed in favour of large corporations and financial institutions. You can listen here.

  • Is Race Real? A Discussion with Dr. Rasigan Maharajh

    Rasigan Maharajh

    Thursday, 18 June 2020

    Racism is making headlines as yet another Black person is the victim of extrajudicial assassination by the US police force. More people are engaging in protest than ever before, but how many of us even understand what we mean by the term "race"? Join Peace Vigil as Dr. Rasigan Maharajh from the Institute of Economic Research on Innovation at Tshwane University of Technology explains.

    Video available here

  • Now Is the Time – Revolution, Inner and Outer

    Kavita Byrd

    Monday, 15 June 2020

    In a two-part series for Resilience, Kavita Byrd writes about the inner revolution and social revolution required for us to end interlocking systems of impression:

    The same patterns of domination and submission exist in our present society at all levels and scales. The way humanity as a whole dominates and exploits nature, the way whites dominate and exploit people of color; the way men dominate and exploit women; is the same way the most aggressive, rapacious strong-men at the top, nationally and globally, dominate and exploit everyone else and the planet. It is one pyramid, one pecking order, of power-over relationships that is now destroying us all, collapsing from the unsustainability of its own top-heaviness, teetering and toppling from its own egregious imbalances.

    But there is in fact another power far stronger than even the top-men in this scale of domination; and that is the power erupting now, that is causing it all to collapse. What is happening has clearly spun out of the control of even those who would create a new order of their total control – nature herself, and the sacred itself speaking though her, rising up through indigenous people, people of color, youth, women, people of good will around the world, demanding radical change.

    Read Part I here and Part II here.

  • The Sacrifice Zone: A New Novel by Roger Gottlieb

    Roger Gottlieb

    Wednesday, 10 June 2020
    ”Sacrifice Zone”—a place so polluted it can never be cleaned up.

    “How does she do it?” marvels Daniel Aiken. While the environmental crisis fills him with rage and fear his lover and fellow activist Sarah Carson still takes joy in life. As their work becomes increasingly dangerous, a tragic accident makes him face another question: can he learn her secret—or will his heart become yet another sacrifice zone? American Buddhist teacher Anne Sattvic’s spiritual tranquility is giving way: long suppressed memories bring back the devastation caused by her sister’s heroin addiction. Facing the past, Anne must decide how much of her mastery of Buddhist teaching is only a mask hiding a sacrifice of both family ties and her own ability to feel. In the face of loss and helplessness Daniel and Anne have both given up something essential. Can they find a way to love? Is there a third way beyond abandoning the world or being miserable in it?

    Read an excerpt

    Order paperback or Kindle versions at Amazon or Barnes & Noble

  • Covid 19 - Indigenous Communities in Resistance responding to the current crisis

    Ashish Kothari

    Thursday, 28 May 2020
    Join the Global Tapestry of Alternatives on Monday, June 1st (11:30 AM EST), for a discussion with Xochitl Leyva Solano from the perspectives of resistance and re-existence driven by the militant and reflective experiences of the Zapatista and autonomous communities of Chiapas (Mexico).

    Learn more and RSVP here.

  • "There's No Going Back to Normal"

    Kavita Byrd

    Wednesday, 29 April 2020

    Kavita Byrd published a new essay, "There Is No Going Back to Normal: Which Way Do We Choose Going Forward?," which explains clearly that the current crisis is a branch point -- and we can and need to take the opportunity to shift the world into a more sustainable and caring direction.

    As Kavita says, "Many people see the coronavirus crisis as a one-off event, something that will pass and then we’ll go back to normal. But we have to see the bigger systemic picture – the background of the global capitalist system that has caused the crisis, and will cause many more to come –cascading into further crises and ultimate collapse — if we don’t wake up now, take the reins in our hands, and radically change course."

    You can read the full essay here.

  • Living Earth Community: Multiple Ways of Being and Knowing

    Mary Evelyn Tucker

    Wednesday, 22 April 2020
    Living Earth Community: Multiple Ways of Being and Knowing -- a new anthology edited by Sam Mickey, Mary Evelyn Tucker, and John Grim -- is a celebration of the diversity of ways in which humans can relate to the world around them, and an invitation to its readers to partake in planetary coexistence. Innovative, informative, and highly accessible, this interdisciplinary anthology of essays brings together scholars, writers and educators across the sciences and humanities, in a collaborative effort to illuminate the different ways of being in the world and the different kinds of knowledge they entail – from the ecological knowledge of indigenous communities, to the scientific knowledge of a biologist and the embodied knowledge communicated through storytelling.

  • Liberato Bautista: "Collaboration can help eradicate COVID-19"

    Liberato Bautista

    Tuesday, 21 April 2020
    Liberato Bautista wrote about the implications of the coronavirus pandemic, and the needed solutions, in United Methodist News:

    Nongovernmental organizations, including faith-based organizations like our United Methodist representations at the U.N., are in a kairos moment to help achieve the U.N.’s mandates.

    COVID-19 may have been virulent and will forever change the rules of social etiquette and socialization. But the novel coronavirus has done what multilateral negotiations have not done — pause globalization and its unbridled pursuit of profit and capital.

    When the world reopens from the ravages of the virus, we have a momentous task not to return to, but to transform, global and local arrangements to protect humanity and the planet, at least from the ravages of pandemics and social inequalities.

  • Harvard Crimson Profile of the Tellus Institute

    Jonathan Cohn

    Monday, 20 April 2020
    The Harvard Crimsons recently did a profile on Tellus. As Allen White is quoted: “This is a moment of intense uncertainty. We feel our job is to be there to offer a path, to say here are the changes, here are the methods to make these changes.”

  • Mindfulness, social action in Covid-19 crisis

    Asoka Bandarage

    Thursday, 09 April 2020
    Personal stress reduction certainly has merits in a crisis like the current one, but it can also be exploited and misused. We need a mindfulness that encourages social action, as I argue in aAsia Times.

  • Sale on "Pluriversal Politics: The Real and the Possible"

    Arturo Escobar

    Thursday, 09 April 2020
    Dear friends:

    This feels like a triffle --certainly, hard to feel happy about it-- but I got yesterday copies of Pluriversal Politics: The Real and the Possible, a book of essays of mine just published by Duke Unievrsti Press. This is a translation of a book published in Colombia in 2018, entitled: Otro posible es posible: Caminando hacia las transiciones desde Abya Yala/Afro/Latino América. The English version includes a substantial Preface in which I do my best to discuss the potential articulations between progressive or Left politics and pluriversal politics. The rest of the book is exactly the same as the Spanish Original. Perhaps the single most important merit of the book in the current context is that it challenges mainstream notions of the real and the possible, calling forways to imagine possibility differently --what more and more people and movements today are emphasizing at present, in the sense of not going back to "normal."

    You can access the book's Preface and Introduction from the website, https://www.dukeupress.edu/pluriversal-politics. Plus the person in charge of marketing at the press send me the follwing offer, in case any of you is interested (or pls. send the offer to others):

    We are having a 50% off sale through May 1, so I encourage you to announce that your book is available on social media and in an email to colleagues and friends and urge them to use coupon SPRING50 to save.

    My best wishes to all, arturo

  • Is It Time to Postpone the 2020 Climate Summit?

    Monday, 30 March 2020
    In the Inter Press Service, Felix Dodds and Michael Strauss argued for postponing COP26 (formally, the 26th annual Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change), currently planned for Glasgow, Scotland, in November, but keeping up pressure on governments. They argue that the large-scale government response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic can reshape the terms of debate about what is feasible, and the possibililty of a change in Washington in November would mean that a 2021 conference would be more fruitful.

  • What Is Health?: Allostasis and the Evolution of Human Design by Peter Sterling

    Wednesday, 26 February 2020

    Art, Science, and Diplomacy for a Plural World

    Laura Rival

    Friday, 17 January 2020





    12:00 – 13:30


    The Round Table will take inspiration from Davi Kopenawa’s co-authored The Falling Sky to debate projects of ‘enlightened localisms’ that call for new ways of thinking about world civilization. Participants will address the central question: How do difference and equality make us more human?

    Very rarely do members of the part of humankind Jean Malaurie calls ‘les peuples racine’ (literally, ‘groups who have put roots down,’ that is, autochthonous peoples) have the opportunity to converse with literary critiques, political scientists, or particle physicists. Could a Yanomami creation myth inform the early universe cosmology of modern science? Would knowledge of supernovae and dark matter affect indigenous understandings of the cosmos? What could British diplomacy gain from shamanic diplomacy, and how could a shaman from the Amazon convince a western diplomat that ‘somos territorio’ (‘we are territory’)? At a time when the urgent moral claims of distinct and distant others are on the increase, what role could rooted cosmopolitanism play? And what is the significance of roots in a world where the rights of other-than-humans are being voiced? Can native Amazonian ontologies help with literary translations in an era defined by the climate emergency? Under what conditions could universal and particular criteria of beauty and perfection inform one another?


    Davi Kopenawa is an author, philosopher, spiritual leader, linguist, educator and spokesperson for the Yanomami people. He was awarded the United Nations Environment Program’s Global 500 prize in 1988 and received the Right Livelihood Award (also known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize”) in 2019. He belongs to the team of Yanomami researchers involved in the ceremonial dialogues project (PDDCY, Projeto de Documentação dos Diálogos Cerimoniais Yanomami). In 2013, he was invited to join the Faculty of Education at UFMG (Universidade Federal de Minas Geiras, Belo Horizonte, Brazil) as Visiting Lecturer. He also has academic connections with UFMG’s Department of Anthropology, CEDEPLAR (Centre for Development and Regional Planning in the Economics Faculty) and IEAT (Institute for Advanced Transdisciplinary Studies). His scholarly activities address a range of key decolonial interests, including: diversity and inclusivity; race and resistance; global Brazil; ecologies of knowledge and practice; imagining the divine; introducing diversity in university curricula.

    Davi’s collaboration of thirty years with Franco-Brazilian anthropologist Bruce Albert resulted in the 2010 publication of the acclaimed La Chute du Ciel. Paroles d’un Chaman Yanomami (Collection ‘Terre Humaine’ at Editions Plon). The book was translated into English and published by Harvard University Press in 2013. The two translators, Alison Dundy and Nicholas Elliott, won the 2013 French American Foundation Translation Prize in Non-Fiction (see Alison Dundy’s interview at www.frenchamerican.org/alison-dundy/). The book has been described as a textual duet. The two authors worked together as one, and came to inhabit the same ethnobiographic ‘I.’ In the narrative mosaic they created through empathy and lyrical depersonalisation, interculturality extinguishes the privileged position of seeing without being seen.

    Yanomami cosmology as articulated by Davi Kopenawa and the master shamans of Watoriki with whom he trained was a central inspiration for the exhibition Yanomami, Spirit of the Forest organised by the Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain in Paris in 2003. It profoundly influenced the thinking of Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, a leading Brazilian anthropologist and philosopher whose theory of perspectivism has revolutionized cultural and post-colonial studies over the last twenty years. Kopenawa’s and Albert’s ethnographic achievement is an inspiration for all contemporary anthropologists.


    [tbc. Leading Oxford scholars from English Literature, Modern Languages, Physics, International Relations, History, Anthropology, International Development, and the student body are currently being approached]


    Davi’s travels to Europe are facilitated by the Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, which supports experiments in cross-cultural communication between artists and thinkers from different countries and backgrounds. The Foundation is currently organising the largest retrospective of works by Brazilian photographer Claudia Andujar (Paris, 30 January – 10 May 2020).

    The Round Table has received the support of the following organisations (tbc):

    ·         Bonavero Institute of Human Rights (Faculty of Law, Mansfield College)

    ·         LAC (Latin American Centre)

    ·         LSRI (Laudato Sí Research Institute, Campion Hall)

    ·         Linacre College

    ·         MFO (Maison Française d’Oxford)

    ·         ODID (Oxford Department of International Development)

    ·         OPHI (Oxford Poverty and human Development Initiative, ODID)

    ·         PRM (Pitt-Rivers Museum)

    ·         The Ruskin School of Art

    ·         SAME (School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography)

    ·         TORCH (The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities)

  • New Book Chapter on Redefining Freedom

    Aaron Karp

    Monday, 30 December 2019

    Aaron Karp recently wrote a chapter for the book Liberty and the Ecological Crisis: Freedom on a Finite Planet. His chapter, "Defending and Driving the Climate Movement by Redefining Freedom," explains why a cultural transformation away from consumerism is needed if we're to undertake a rapid renewable energy transition. It argues that climate activists must vocally champion a holistic definition of freedom that values democratic participation over unlimited consumption, and seeks balance between humans' relationship to one another and the natural world.

    It can be read on his website: https://freedomsurvival.org/defending-driving-climate-movement-redefining-freedom/.

  • New book due in April: Climate Justice & Community Renewal

    Brian Tokar

    Monday, 30 December 2019

    New book due in April: Climate Justice & Community Renewal

    Brian Tokar's new book Climate Justice & Community Renewal is available for discounted preorders during the holiday season and will be out in mid-April. Includes free shipping. https://www.routledge.com/Climate-Justice-and-Community-Renewal-Resistance-and-Grassroots-Solutions/Tokar-Gilbertson/p/book/9780367228491. There will be further discount offers through the year.

  • Global Tapestry of Alternatives

    Ashish Kothari

    Friday, 15 November 2019
    A new article by Ashish Kothari about the Global Tapestry of Alternatives, emerging from processes like the Vikalp Sangam in India and Crianza Mutua in Mexico, was published in Globalizations.

    Abstract: Globally there is a visible counter-trend to the destructive process of ‘development’ that the forces of capitalism, statism, patriarchy have imposed. Though still marginal and not yet able to make significant macro-level transformations, the resistance is growing. As is, often emerging from such resistance, there is a re-assertion of ways of life that respect, nature (including humans), co-existence, and justice. Such radical alternatives can be from ancient cultures, or be very new, but all have a core of ethical values that put life at the centre. One crucial barrier to these becoming a force for macro-level change is that they remain scattered, only sporadically learning from each other and becoming a greater critical mass. With this background, a Global Tapestry of Alternatives has been initiated in mid-2019, a kind of confluence of ideas and practices towards further collaboration and visioning. The idea has emerged from the Vikalp Sangam (Alternatives Confluence) process running since 2014 in India.

    Article link: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14747731.2019.1670955?journalCode=rglo20

  • World Social Forum – Possible Perspectives

    Chico Whitaker

    Thursday, 14 November 2019


    Only in January this year I finished a long text at the request of Globalizations magazine, Finland, about the WSF future, with the title "Reflections: Brazil and the World Social Forum". I had started it in September 2018, when the tensions in the electoral campaign for the Presidency of the Republic in my country were at the highest level, with Lula arrested, and I could not ignore it. I decided then to present our situation and the sad results we all know as an introduction to the text I had to write about the WSF.

    Globalizations published this text now, retaining however only its second part, specifically on the WSF. I therefore send it to you as rapidly as possible, as several mailing lists had been launched on the WSF future, and I tried in my text to identify the genesis of the decisions of the first WSF Organization Committee, presented, after it, in the WSF Charter of Principles. This text could then be useful, as the reflection and articulations we wanted the WSF could facilitate became now even more necessary, given the current advances of the far right in the world and considering what is experienced today especially in Latin America.

    This second part of my text, with the title "Perspectives of the World Social Forum", can be read in English through the link: https://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/ETPT3PJAVUMNEMKB2DUM/full?target=10.1080/14747731.2019.1670957

    It is Portuguese in the blog  https://senospermitemsonhar.wordpress.com/2019/11/12/forum-social-mundial-perspectivas-possiveis-chico-whitaker/

    In this blog, I put also the first part of the text "Reflections: Brazil and World Social Forum", only in Portuguese, with the title "The experience lived in Brazil in 2018": https://senospermitemsonhar.wordpress.com/2019/11/12/i-a-experiencia-politica-vivida-no-brasil-em-2018-1a-parte-do-texto-reflexoes-brasil-e-forum-social-mundial-chico-whitaker/

  • Call for papers: The Great Transition International Conference

    Wednesday, 30 October 2019

    Call for papers

    The Great Transition International Conference
    May 21-24, Montreal

    The 2007-2008 financial crisis did not put an end to neoliberal policies, but it did lead to a large-scale rejection of neoliberalism as an economic model and a mode of thought. In the last decade, several new protest movements emerged: the Arab Spring, the Indignados, Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, Fight for $15… These movements challenged the status quo, mobilized millions and alerted the world to crucial issues. They also won significant victories in some areas. Furthermore, new left-wing parties and openly socialist candidates entered the political arena with impressive results. However, we must concede that the tide hasn’t turned yet. There is no evidence that the balance of power is shifting to the left, or that the abolition of capitalism is near. In some places, the left is even losing ground to a rising far right.

    One of the deepest political lessons of our times is that the radical left is undergoing a crisis. We are currently unable to articulate a clear vision for the future. “Anti-capitalism”, anti-racism”, “Change the system, not the climate”, “Another world is possible”: this vocabulary expresses a negative and defensive political impulse, underlining our incapacity to put forward a positive, inspiring project. When we dare speak of revolution, it often evokes empty rehashing or, worse, the spectre of state violence committed in the name of so-called “communist” regimes.

    Therefore, our most urgent task is to rebuild an alternative to this racist, capitalist and patriarchal world. Social theories have given us critical tools to analyse the system, but have given us very few pointers on how to replace it. In some circles, interesting proposals have been made and bold social experiments have been tried, but these initiatives are either overlooked or isolated. They need to be connected, discussed and debated, so that a stronger movement emerges.

    To promote the convergence of various resistance movements into a powerful offensive, we must develop a genuine transition project based on the critical knowledges produced by scholars and activists. The Great Transition: Building Utopias international conference thus invites citizens and activists from all horizons to re-ignite our political imagination and to renew strategic debates along 6 main themes:

    1. An Economy in the Hands of Everyone
    2. Transforming our Relationship with Nature
    3. Anti-Imperialism in a Tempest-Tossed World
    4. Rethinking Democracy and Power
    5. Decolonizing Knowledge
    6. Fighting all Oppression

    Now is the time to act. The multi-faceted crisis we are going through requires the creation of new utopias. This is why The Great Transition invites you to submit panels and papers that will stimulate our reflections on alternative models and new political strategies in tune with our current situation. We particularly welcome papers from marginalized individuals and communities. Individual papers will be considered, but preference will be given to full panels. Note also that we encourage speakers to submit introductory panels and workshops aiming towards popular education. Please note that we strive towards gender parity. All-male panels may be rejected.

    The conference has three main objectives: (1) promoting alternatives to capitalism and to the many different systems of oppression, (2) equipping social movements and transformative initiatives by sharing experiences and knowledge, and (3) reinforcing ties between critical academics and militant organizations, as well as between francophone and anglophone networks.




    To submit a proposal or for more information, fill the form

    For questions, contact info@lagrandetransition.net

    (NB: Not affiliated with GTI, but still a great conference!)

  • Tom Athanasiou on a Global Green New Deal

    Tom Athanasiou

    Wednesday, 02 October 2019

    Tom Athanasiou has an article in The Nation, entitled Only a Global Green New Deal Can Save the Planet, in which he introduces the argument that a fair shares approach to international cooperation is essential to any even plausibly successful global climate transition. Specifically, the article proposes that a global Green New Deal can best be kickstarted through a proliferation of national green new deals that are structured, as per the plan from US presidential candidate and Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, to support international cooperation as well as domestic transformation.  The side effect, a very welcome one, would be the animation of the Paris Agreement and its not-yet-functioning ambition mechanisms, he argues.

  • Climate Futures II: Design Politics, Design Natures, Aesthetics and the Green New Deal

    Damian White

    Tuesday, 01 October 2019

    Climate Futures II: Design Politics, Design Natures, Aesthetics and the Green New Deal
    Thursday Dec 5th 2019
    Location: Metcalf Auditorium, Chace Center/RISD Museum
    The Rhode Island School of Design.  


    Tickets available here https://www.eventbrite.com/e/climate-futures-ii-design-politics-aesthetics-the-green-new-deal-tickets-74484064843 

    Over the last two years the Green New Deal has come to define how we might think about just post-carbon transition in the United States. Whilst denounced by some conservatives and liberal ecomodernists as implausible and dismissed by assorted climate doomsters as too little, too late, it still stands as the only game in town for thinking about post-carbon futures. This symposium seeks to shine a constructive, yet critical, light on not only the potentialities but also the limitations of the Green New Deal as a political, design, cultural, technological and aesthetic discourse and praxis.

    The Green New Deal has generated a rich series of policy debates about the ways in which just transitions could be stimulated and enacted. It has served as a reminder of the many admirable ways in which the old New Deal defined a vision of public works and public design, infrastructure and planning for the public good. However - and as many Green New Dealers are well aware - the original New Deal was also marked by multiple exclusions and a complicated racial, gender and labor politics. It worked with a political imaginary largely bounded by the US nation state. Its more radical ambitions were ultimately constrained and contained. A Green New Deal will have to mobilize against fossil capitalism, coloniality and an emboldened White supremacy in very different ways to the old New Deal. It will have to address a global climate emergency that will require building new forms of solidarity across borders and boundaries. It will also have to open up discussions about the socio-technical and political design pathways to post-carbon futures in ways that might force us to move beyond the aesthetic and design horizons of “small is beautiful” era environmentalisms without tumbling back into a paternalistic liberalism.
    If the policy context that could inform a Green New Deal is slowly coming into view, the cultural, aesthetic, socio-technological or design politics that could further support and radicalize a new Green New Deal is less in evidence. This could stand as a significant limitation to further progress given that we know that just transitions to post-carbon futures are not going to emerge though legislation alone nor will they be built through fear of extinction or declarations of the need for eco-austerity. Diverse publics will have to be mobilized at affective, cultural and political levels. A sense of political and creative agency, desire and perhaps even joy in the opportunities that exist for democratically designing and redesigning our worlds will all be vital for enacting just post-carbon futures. The just transition, understood as the Green New Deal or otherwise, will have to be imagined and built, fabricated and realized, coded and created. Politicized processes of making, of prefiguring, that occur again and again and again are going to be constitutive features of the attempt to build survivable futures on a rapidly warming planet. New forms of art and cultural production, new modes of solidarity and care, a new design politics residing in new public institutions residing in many democratic spaces will be required to disarm the fatalists and the fanatics. This symposium seeks to consider how a Green New Deal might help us face down the climate doomsters and denialists, think beyond technocrats and technophobes and build creative political ecologies for the future.  

    Coffee 8.30am-9am 
    Introductions 9.00am-9.20am

    9.00am-9.05am “Welcome to the Symposium/Welcome to Nature-Culture-Sustainability Studies at RISD” Jonathan Highfield GPD Nature-Culture-Sustainability Studies at RISD.

    9.05am-9.15am. “Climate Futures, Design Politics and the Green New Deal: Some Introductions” Damian White, Dean of Liberal Arts, RISD.


    1. Architectural futures, public infrastructure+ the Green New Deal
    The architectures have, to date, been somewhat inconsistent champions of just transitions for low carbon futures. Sustainable design, with its rather one-sided focus on deriving “lessons from nature”, has historically displayed limited interest in class, race, labor, gender, or broader power relations. Design schools and design professionals have regularly proclaimed that they can play a leadership role in building low carbon futures but then continually returned to “business as usual agendas”. The call for a Green New Deal, though, has raised hopes that more radicalized visions of architecture, landscape architecture and interior architecture could be renewed, revitalized and reworked in more sophisticated ways. In this panel we will consider the extent to which new forms of public works for the public good in sustainable urbanism, green infrastructure and adaptive reuse could push back against green gentrification and green neo-liberalism. We will explore the ways in which labor struggles for just working conditions within architecture and design could ally and reinforce the call for a Green New Deal. We consider how architectural innovations with virtual reality could open up community engagements with sea level rise. Finally, we struggle with the extent to which the national imaginary of a Green New Deal can address the profound cross-border impacts and global design challenges posed by climate change.

    Chair: Ijlal Muzaffar (RISD THAD/Global Arts and Culture Graduate Program Director)

    • Billy Fleming (Ian L. McHarg Center, UPenn). “Landscape Architecture and the Green New Deal.”
      • Peggy Deamer (Yale/The Architecture Lobby); “Labor, Architecture and the Green New Deal.”
      • Daniel Barber (Architecture, UPenn). “After Comfort.”
      • Liliane Wong (Interior Architecture, RISD) “INTAR, VR and Rising Sea levels.”


    Discussant Amy Kulper (Architecture, RISD). 

    Sponsored by the Division of Liberal Arts

    10.30am-10.45am Coffee


    2. Dialogue Session: Racial Capitalism, designs for energy transition and the Green New Deal 

    Industrialized energy has long been predicated on a system of racial capitalism and colonialism. We rely on electricity, heat, and fuels that derive value through the historical and ongoing displacement and exploitation of indigenous, black, and Latinx land, labor and life. The Green New Deal could offer an opportunity to not only overhaul this existing fossil fuel infrastructure but also redress the racial capitalism on which it is built. In this dialogue, we will explore some of the tensions that currently exist between the urgent need to move as fast as possible to implement a clean energy transition and concerns that, if this transition is not done right, it could recreate new environmental injustices and new sacrifice zones. We will consider the ways in which environmental justice movements are productively contributing to new decolonial visions of energy transition. Finally, we will explore the opportunities that exist for confronting and dismantling racial capitalism through a Green New Deal framework, focusing on policies, strategies, and overarching principles.

    Chair: Lauren Richter (HPSS/NCSS RISD)

    Discussants: Myles Lennon (Anthropology, Brown), Shalanda H.Baker (Law, Public Policy and Urban Affairs, Northeastern University) and Jacqui Patterson, (Director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program). 

    Sponsored by RISD’s Office of Social Equity and Inclusion

    11.50am-12.00am Break


    3: Liberatory ecotechnologies, cyborg ecologies and the Green New Deal

    In the 1960s, Murray Bookchin argued that a post-capitalist ecological society would have to incorporate automation plus liberatory eco-technologies to provide the infrastructure of a new ecological society. Eco-design and eco-technology running alongside much broader forms of social change could not only reawaken humanity’s sense of dependence on the environment but restore selfhood and competence to a “client citizenry.” Contemporary debates on the socio-technical infrastructure that could underpin survivable futures have become increasingly anxious, ill-tempered and polemical. Whether we consider debates around 100% renewables or 100% clean, lab meat or the future of agriculture, either/or logics would seem to run through the ever sharper exchanges between de-growthers and ecomodernists. A worsening climate crisis is clearly exacerbating the stakes of the discussion and acting as a ratchet forcing reframings of our understanding of acceptable and unacceptable technologies. In this session we explore what exactly it might mean to advocate for liberatory technologies, design justice and a progressive technological politics in an age of climate chaos and cyborg ecologies.

    • Kai Bosworth (School of World Affairs, VCU) “Out of the woods: liberatory technologies revisited”.

    • Sasha Costanza-Chock (Civic Media, MIT) “Design Justice for the Green New Deal.” 
      • Holly Jean Buck (Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, UCLA) “Why we need to think in progressive utopian ways about carbon removal technologies.” 
      • Sophie Lewis “Aminotechnics.”

      1.10pm-2.20pm :LUNCH

      2.20pm- 3.30pm

      4: Liberatory aesthetics for a just transition?

      Building survivable futures on a warming planet is not simply going to involve policy for a Green New Deal. Just transitions to post-carbon just futures are inevitably going to raise very significant aesthetic, political and cultural issues about the worlds that we are leaving behind and the world that we need to design and make. The Green New Deal or the just transition more broadly has developed little in the way of a new aesthetic or cultural politics. Its primary co-ordinates have been to look back to the political and public aesthetics that emerged around the first New Deal of the 1930s or turn to the aesthetic that emerged out of predominantly white US environmentalisms of the 1970s. Do we need to find other ways to “stay with the trouble” to paraphrase Donna Haraway as we try and construct survivable futures? What might a joyful, aesthetics of a just transition look like that can come to terms with the loss of certain kinds of nature-cultures, modes of valuing and modes of making and be open to the challenge of designing new cosmopolitan nature-cultures, new ways of valuing and new modes of future making? Can we envisage an aesthetic and cultural politics that reclaims low carbon pleasures present in everyday life? Does a progressive cultural politics for a just transition require a broader decentering of Eurocentric or US centric environmental aesthetics and a more sustained engagement with the insights of decolonial, Latinx, post humanist, cosmopolitical and other currents? In this panel we ponder the kinds of  liberatory aesthetics and cultural politics that could underpin the just transition and offer solidarity and hope across borders and boundaries.

      Chair: Paula Gaetano Adi (RISD, Experimental and Foundation Studies)

      • Yuriko Saito (Nature, Culture, Sustainability Studies/HPSS RISD) “Environmental Aesthetics and Everyday Life." 
      • Anathastia Raina (Graphic Design, RISD) “Cyborg Ecology for the Green New Deal.”
      • Priscilla Ybarra (English, University of North Texas) “Latinx Environmentalisms: Place, Justice, and the Decolonial.”


    Discussant: Nicholas Pevzner (Landscape Architecture, U,Penn). 

    Sponsored by RISD’s Experimental and Foundation Studies and RISD Graduate Program in Global Arts and Culture

    3.30pm -3.45pm Coffee

    3.45pm –5pm

    5. Thinking beyond the ecology of panic: The political opportunity of the Green New Deal.

    The prospect that climate conditions may have reached a point of no return has now become a reoccurring motif of assorted climate doomsters who seem to delight in telling working and marginalized people that “their goose is cooked.” This is a politics that the Green New Deal clearly has to face down. An ecology of panic at best is going to feed “passive nihilism” (Connolly, 2016) and “melancholic paralysis” (Wark, 2015) but in addition it could feed the rise of eco-fascism and eco-apartheid. In this concluding session, we consider the extent to which a politics of a Green New Deal framed around the need for environmentally just investment and infrastructure, a fundamental reworking of class, race and gender relations, new modes of democratic  planning  and approaches to global politics focused on a new internationalism and solidarity across borders could open up very different paths. 

    Timmons Roberts Chair (Brown)

    • Alyssa Battistoni  (Harvard College) “Cyborg Ecosocialism + Gendered Labor + the Green New Deal.” 
    • Kian Goh (Urban Planning, UCLA) “Urban Planning + Design for a Green New Deal.”
    • Dan Traficonte (Urban Studies + Planning, MIT)  “An Innovation Policy for the Green New Deal.” 
    • Thea Riofrancos (Political Science, Providence College) “A Globally Just Green New Deal”.


    Discussant: Camilo Viveiros, George Wiley Center 


    Sponsored by The William R. Rhodes Center for International Economics and Finance, Brown University and The Institute at Brown for Environment and Society 

  • Call for Papers: Environmental Governance: Policy Discourse, Deliberative Practices, and Public Participation

    Frank Fischer

    Tuesday, 03 September 2019
    Courtesy of Frank Fischer:

    This conference focuses on the interplay among policy discourses, deliberative practices, public participation and environmental governance. It examines how policy publics, politicians, citizens and other communities, can influence governmental decisions, and vice versa. In particular, it focuses on these interactions in the context of the uncertainties that have been created by the rise of populism and the apparent irrationalities across different governance regimes, including the phenomenon of post-truth politics.  

    The conference seeks to draw attention to the various environmental crises, especially those related to climate change–the challenge of this century. Granted that strong responses from ordinary citizens are required, including environmental movements, effective environmental governance also depends on knowledge and expertise. However, these processes are not only fraught with scientific and policy uncertainties, they take place within a turbulent political environment, including its multiple confrontations with politics of climate denial and post-truth. It is therefore not surprising that both the problems and their sustainable solutions are often wicked and messy.  

    Topics explored in this conference include: environmental governance, public discourse deliberation, communications, public participation, public behaviour (e.g., blame, resilience, tolerance, robustness), and narratives (e.g. issues of information asymmetries). We also welcome papers that critically examine the extent to which the climate of “alternative facts” and post-truth politics has influenced policy-making.This conference is broadly framed and welcomes all papers from a wide range of disciplines. Comparative papers are especially welcome. A summary of topics of interest in this conference is as follows:

    1. Environmental governance (including climate change)
    2. Environmental sustainability discourses
    3. Environmental knowledge and expertise
    4. Post-truth and alternative facts
    5. Citizen and public participation
    6. Public narratives and policy argumentation
    7. Policy design and deliberative practices
    8. Political apathy and blame avoidance

    The conference, comprising two days of paper presentations (Jan 29-30, 2020), will be followed by a discussion (on the morning of Jan 31) on conference findings and contributions by Critical Policy Studies.    

    Paper proposal submissions are to be made to iwp_admin@nus.edu.sg by October 31, 2019. The submission must include a title and an abstract of no more than 300 words, as well as the full name, institutional affiliation, and email of all authors. Please also indicate the topic(s) of interest (e.g., “#5. Citizen and public participation”) that the paper aims to cover. The submission can also include new topics not enumerated above.   Only successful applicants will be contacted by late November 2019.

    Successful applicants also need to submit a draft paper of between 5,000 and 8,000 words by January 17, 2020. *Only previously unpublished papers or those not already committed elsewhere can be accepted.  

    This conference is supported by Institute of Water Policy, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore. It is organized in association with the Critical Policy Studies journal. For additional information contact Leong Ching, NUS, and Frank Fischer, Critical Policy Studies

  • A World Parliament: Governance and Democracy in the 21st Century

    Andreas Bummel

    Tuesday, 27 August 2019

    Global challenges such as war, climate change, poverty and inequality are overwhelming nation-states and today’s international institutions. Doing the right thing requires more than having the right policies; it requires having the right political structures to implement them. Achieving a peaceful, just and sustainable world civilization requires an evolutionary leap forward towards a federal global government. The creation of a democratic world parliament is the centerpiece of this project.

    This book describes the history, today’s relevance and future implementation of this monumental idea.

    The book can be ordered in retail and online bookstores worldwide. Available as e-book, paperback and hardcover edition.

    Read about the book’s presentation in New York, Brussels and Stockholm.

    Join the conversation at Twitter. Hashtag: #worldparliament.

  • South Asian People's Action on Climate Change

    Sajai Jose

    Wednesday, 21 August 2019


    Since the industrial revolution began, human society has emitted a massive amount of CO2 into the atmosphere, raising its concentrations to an unprecedented 415 ppm today that is 50% over pre-industrial times. This has destabilized our climate and already caused an average global temperature rise of a little over 1°C. The consequences are rapid glacier melt, rising sea levels, acidifying oceans, greater monsoon unpredictability, more extreme weather events such as heat waves and heavy rainfall, which have posed a grave threat to both the natural world and to human society.

    The acceleration in the rate of change of climate change impacts today is worrisome—Himalayan glaciers are melting twice as fast as they did 25 years ago, sea level rise is 50% more than earlier, cyclone intensity has increased, insect populations are dwindling rapidly, and droughts and extreme weather events have become more frequent.

    Despite the 2015 inter-governmental Paris Agreement, CO2 emissions are still rising; and at current emission rates, we will cross the 1.5-2oC do-not-cross temperature rise redline in a few decades. Climate change has put the earth’s environment and human society at the risk of drastic and permanent damage. Without immediate and deep emission cuts, temperature rise by 2100 may be 3-4oC over pre-industrial times, and possibly more if inherent tipping points are crossed. In other words, the average temperature in future may be nearly as high as what meteorological departments currently classify as heat waves.

    South Asia is one of the most vulnerable areas in the world to climate change impacts. Barring Bhutan and Sri Lanka, all other South Asian nations are at very high risk to climate change. By 2100, Pakistan will be extremely water stressed, the Maldives will drown, a quarter of Bangladesh will be under the sea, causing tens of millions of climate refugees, Nepal will face unprecedented floods from melting glaciers, and parts of India will reel under floods while other parts will face continuous drought.

    The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres’s has described the current situation as “an emergency we face, and that unless we make a course change by 2020, we face the possibility of a runaway climate change with disastrous consequences.” The United Kingdom and Ireland have recently declared a climate emergency, as have many cities in Canada, Australia, USA, New Zealand, Switzerland, Austria, Spain and Belgium. Climate emergency declarations cover 100 million people today, but how these official declarations will translate into climate change mitigation action is yet unclear.


    The South Asian People’s Action on Climate Crisis (SAPACC), a rainbow coalition of organizations and individuals, was formed in May 2019 to bring together youth, women, farmers, workers, fisher folk, scientists, and people of all walks of life who are concerned with the impacts of climate change. SAPACC intends to appeal to South Asian governments to make declarations and follow them with appropriate actions to mitigate the climate crisis, and to table resolutions in the United Nations for taking urgent action at the global level. SAPACC will also work with South Asian civil societies to take urgent measures to reduce the risk of climate change impacts.


    *Create a platform for civil society action to mitigate climate change impacts on a crisis basis
    *Share information on climate change impacts and mitigation programmes
    *Raise public awareness regarding climate change impacts and mobilize public action to mitigate it
    *Based on climate science and mass action, influence public policy on climate change in South Asia

    Core demands

    Sustainability: Emissions of developed nations must become net zero (CO2 emissions must equal sequestration) by 2030, and of developing nations by 2040. Gross global consumption should be reduced to sustainable levels.

    Equity: The ratio of maximum to minimum income or energy consumption for all people in the world should not exceed 2.

    Decentralization, democratic, transparent governance:
    Governance should be decentralized and democratic; all governance information should be in public domain.

    Environmental restoration: Degraded land, water, air, and to the extent possible, biodiversity should be restored to their pre-industrial period quality.

    Responsibility for loss & damage:
    All nations/regions should take responsibility for the impacts of climate change —displacement, property loss, environmental damage, etc—in proportion to their historic emissions (emissions from 1800-to date).

    South Asian Launch Meeting

    SAPACC will hold a South Asian Launch Meeting of civil society organizations and individuals from all over South Asia in Hyderabad, 18-21 September 2019. Several South Asian organizations will be co-organizers of the Launch meeting.


    Sept 18: 8 parallel tracks on climate change and its impacts, Inaugural public meeting
    Sept 19: Country reports, Core demands
    Sept 20: Future programmes, Resolutions
    Sept 21: Organization, Conclusions


    Youth, women, farmers, workers, fisher folk, scientists, and lay people worried about how climate change will impact them, their children and their livelihoods, and who wish to act collectively to mitigate it. About 200-250 delegates are expected to participate in the launch meeting; 30-35% of them will be from countries other than India. The Inaugural function on 18 September will be attended by 1,200 persons, including trade union workers and children who have gone on strike against climate change.


    Volunteers for organizing the Launch Meeting may write to SAPACC’s Convener or Co-conveners.


    The Launch Meeting will be entirely crowd funded by small donations from sympathetic organizations and individuals, and will be in Indian rupees only. Potential donors may write to SAPACC’s Convener or Co-conveners for any query or for instruction on how to make a donation for the Launch Meeting.


    19 organizations, including environmental organizations, trade unions, tribal organizations, farmer’s organizations, civil rights organizations from India and Sri Lanka are co-organizers of this event. More South Asian organizations are expected to become co-organizers.


    To download the registration form (MS Word document), click here


    SAPACC, 2-107/4, Sree Ramnagar Colony, Gangaram, Seri Lingampally, Hyderabad TS 500 050. India

    Website: https://www.sa-pacc.org   Email: sapacc2019@gmail.com

    Sudarshan Rao Sarde, Convener Tel: +91 88268 60844 email: sraosarde@gmail.com
    Sagar Dhara, Co-Convener Tel: +91 94404 01421 email: sagdhara@gmail.com
    Soumya Dutta, Co-convener Tel: +91 92137 63756 email: soumyadutta.delhi@gmail.com


  • "The Last Op-Ed"

    Doug Schuler

    Tuesday, 20 August 2019

    Doug Schuler has a new op-ed, The Last Op-Ed: We Are Destroying the One Thing That Could Save Us, on the Common Dreams web site (https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/06/19/we-are-destroying-one-thing-could-save-us-civic-intelligence). In it, he argues for the importance of civic intelligence to the interlocking challenges we face.

    A Spanish translation is also available here: https://elsemanario.com/colaboradores/miguel-angel-perez-alvarez/318124/destruimos-lo-unico-que-nos-salvaria-inteligencia-civica/

  • New Study on Oregon's Climate Leadership

    Monday, 01 July 2019
    Halina Brown and Maurie Cohen authored a new study on Oregon's climate leadership, entitled "Climate-governance entrepreneurship, higher-order learning, and sustainable consumption: the case of the state of Oregon, United States," published in the journal Climate Policy. You can read the article here.

    The ongoing devolution of climate policy-making to sub-national levels has prompted growing interest in policy entrepreneurship by individuals who are politically and technically creative and institutionally resourceful. This paper investigates the case of the materials-management programme in the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality which has emerged as a national and international leader by focusing on the role of household consumption in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Two noteworthy innovations involve the development of a consumption-based GHG emissions inventory and introduction of policies aimed at facilitating construction of small homes (so-called Accessory Dwelling Units, ADU). The case traces over several decades the higher order learning processes within the group and their entrepreneurship toward affecting broader changes in emission accounting and climate policies in Oregon. The paper identifies the enabling factors for these innovations, and considers: how to create the conditions for learning, experimentation, and policy entrepreneurship; how to reproduce these conditions in different locales; and how to recognize and foster innovations that arise outside the established mainstream ‘climate community’. It also stresses the benefits of breaking down the barriers between science-based analysis and policy. The two questions frequently raised in the climate policy debate – how to bring researchers and practitioners together to develop efficacious policies; and how to replicate successful programmes and policies across different communities, jurisdictions, and locations – should be re-examined. It may be more appropriate to ask instead: How to create conditions for learning, experimentation, and policy entrepreneurship; and how to reproduce these conditions in different locales.

  • 33rd Dignity Conference in the Amazon of Brazil

    Wednesday, 07 August 2019
    Dear Friends and Colleagues!

    We would like to welcome you to the 33rd Dignity Conference in the Amazon of Brazil:
    29th August – 2nd September 2019 in Marabá, state of Pará State
    3rd September – 5th September 2019 in Belém, capital of the state of Pará

    The title of the conference is Cultivating “Good Living Amazon”:  Nurturing Solidarity with Mother Earth.

    We thank Manoela Souza and Dan Baron, the directors of the Transformance Institute Culture & Education, and its AfroRaiz Youth Collective of the Community University of the Rivers in Marabá so much for hosting this conference, and we thank Gabriela Saab from São Paulo for co-convening it. Gaby is specialist in Human Rights Law and Environmental Law (USP) specialist and in the Right to Water as a Human Right.

    You receive this email because the Amazon needs our support now! As you may be aware, the social and environmental situation is more serious than ever. Therefore, we would like to draw your attention to this conference. The local scholars and activists need to feel that they are not forgotten. They need you!!!

    See, for example, 'What now, Brazil? Facing absurdity and injustice, the left must react', by Boaventura De Sousa Santos, Wall Street International Magazine, 29th July 2019,

    This year, the conference will take the format of an Eco-Pedagogic Caravan, developed since 2011 by our hosts. We will visit two communities at risk where alternative Good Amazon Living projects are emerging, and we will visit key places of violation and humiliation. In this way, local, national and international participants will better understand how to cultivate a Good Living Amazon and how to support people healing themselves from the humiliation they have suffered.

    We would like to invite you to participate in the conference in two ways:

    1) It would be wonderful if you could come personally to the conference and exchange knowledge with other participants and local communities leaders. There are no registration fees, participation is free. Everyone is kindly invited to care for their travel and housing costs themselves.

    2) If you cannot be with us in person, we would be very glad if you could join our temporary WhatsApp group that we will make for this conference. There you will be able to be part of the Amazon Conference and have a taste of our main activities, and perhaps you could send the
    participants a message, a video or a photo of support! Please send a message to Gabriela Saab to +5511993015509).

    Please find attached your invitation letters and the program in English and Portuguese. Thank you very much for kindly forwarding this to like-minded people!

    Please enjoy also our last Dignity Letter at https://conta.cc/2N787fY.

    The full program of the conference will evolve here:

    Please know that you are invited to spend the entire conference with us, so that true dignity-family-building can emerge. All our events are part of an ongoing effort to nurture a global dignity community.

    We so much look forward to having you with us in another future-oriented paradigm-changing conference, where we will practice and manifest the dignity that we, as humankind, are in need of if we wish to offer our children a decent future on our beautiful but finite Blue Planet!

    from Evelin Lindner and Gaby Saab, soon on their way to the Amazon
    also on behalf of Dan and Mano
    and on behalf of Linda Hartling and Michael Britton
    and on behalf of our entire global dignity movement!

  • Stakeholder Democracy: Represented Democracy in a Time of Fear

    Friday, 05 July 2019
    Felix Dodds's new book Stakeholder Democracy: Represented Democracy in a Time of Fear was released by Routledge.

    Description: In the context of sustainable development, this book describes how we are moving from representative to participatory democracy, and how we are now in a "stakeholder democracy," which is working to strengthen represented democracy in a time of fear.

    Since the 1992 Rio Earth Summit the idea of stakeholder democracy has grown, with stakeholders engaged in helping governments and intergovernmental bodies make better decisions, and in helping them to deliver those decisions in partnerships amongst various stakeholders, with and without government. Seen through a multi-stakeholder, sector and level lens, this book describes the history of the development of stakeholder democracy, particularly in the area of sustainable development. The authors draw on more than twenty-five years of experience to review, learn from and make recommendations on how best to engage stakeholders in policy development. The book illustrates successful practical examples of multi-stakeholder partnerships (MSPs) to implement agreements and outline elements of an MSP Charter. This will provide a benchmark for partnerships, enabling those being developed to understand what the necessary quality standards are and to understand what is expected in terms of transparency, accountability, financial reporting, impact and governance.

    The book is essential reading for professionals and trainees engaging in multi-stakeholder processes for policy development and to implement agreements. It will also be useful for students of sustainable development, politics and international relations.

    Read more here

  • The Making of a Democratic Economy

    Wednesday, 31 July 2019

    Marjorie Kelly’s new book The Making of a Democratic Economy was released earlier this month. Co-authored with Ted Howard, the book is a clarion call for a movement ready to get serious about transforming our economic system. Illuminating the principles of a democratic economy through the stories of on-the-ground community wealth builders and their unlikely accomplices in the halls of institutional power, this book is a must read for everyone concerned with how we win the fight for an economy that’s equitable, not extractive.

    Order a copy here: https://www.ademocraticeconomy.org/

  • What We Have Instead: Poems by Gus Speth

    Friday, 31 May 2019

    ·         The collection of poetry What We Have Instead: Poems by Gus Speth was published earlier this month. After award-winning books on environment and scores of articles, this is his first book of poetry. In it there are stories about people and their journeys, scathing but sometimes humorous commentary on current events, several reflections on climate risks and environmental loss and where that leaves us, and many other poems—philosophical, funny, or something else. You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.com/What-We-Have-Instead-Poems.

  • Reporting that Seeks to Empower

    Marilyn Smith

    In just 3 minutes, you can support GTN member Marilyn Smith and her multimedia project investigating energy poverty! The Energy Action Project (EnAct) believes its time for everyone to ‘get’ energy. That means ensuring universal access to sustainable energy services and also boosting understanding of how human demand for energy drives everything from production to prices to policies. EnAct uses documentary films to make the connection between people and energy, then embeds films in diverse content to investigate the causes, impacts and solutions to energy poverty. All content is jointly developed by experts and journalists and a stellar creative team.

    EnAct is competition for funding from La Fabrique AVIVA – a French programme to support social innovation – and needs votes to advance to the final round for funding.

    The deadline is is noon on Monday, 3 June – Paris time. So please get your votes in by Sunday.

    The voting site is in French, so here’s a link to English instructions: http://www.coldathome.today/voting-for-enact-on-aviva

    A big thanks in advance from Marilyn and her team! 

  • The Fate of Global Corporations in an Anti-Globalist World

    Allen White's "The Fate of Global Corporations in an Anti-Globalist World," originally published by Green Biz, was recently translated into Spanish by Jus Semper (translated essay available here). In the essay, White argues that the confluence of dislocation and despair among millions of workers and families portends a period of uncertainty in trade relations, immigration and the transnational flow of technology, talent and capital.  Progressive climate, worker and investor strategies can help neutralize anti-globalist sentiment while strengthening reputation and resilience of the multinational enterprises.

  • Postdevelopment in Practice: Alternatives, Economies, Ontologies

    Postdevelopment in Practice critically engages with recent trends in postdevelopment and critical development studies that have destabilised the concept of development, challenging its assumptions and exposing areas where it has failed in its objectives, whilst also pushing beyond theory to uncover alternatives in practice.

    This book reflects a rich and diverse range of experience in postdevelopment work, bringing together emerging and established contributors from across Latin America, South Asia, Europe, Australia and elsewhere, and it brings to light the multiple and innovative examples of postdevelopment practice already underway. The complexity of postdevelopment alternatives are revealed throughout the chapters, encompassing research on economy and care, art and design, pluriversality and buen vivir, the state and social movements, among others. Drawing on feminisms and political economy, postcolonial theory and critical design studies, the ‘diverse economies’ and ‘world of the third’ approaches and discussions on ontology and interdisciplinary fields such as science and technology studies, the chapters reveal how the practice of postdevelopment is already being carried out by actors in and out of development.

    The book features essays by GTN members Arturo Escobar, Gustavo Esteva, Miriam Lang, Ashish Kothari, Ariel Salleh, Federico Demaria, and Alberto Acosta.

    Read more here.

  • Interview with Gus Speth in Yes! Magazine

    In the case Juliana vs. the United States, 21 young people brought a suit against the US government for promoting the fossil fuel industry despite being well aware of the dangers of climate change. Since the case was filed in 2015, the US government has tried repeatedly to block it from having its day in court.

    One of the experts with whom the youths have consulted is Gus Speth, an Associate Fellow at Tellus and member of the Great Transition Network (among many other things in his illustrious career). He discusses the case and the history of inaction on climate change from presidents over the past 40 years in an enlightening interview with Yes! Magazine.

    Despite the obstacles ahead, Speth makes clear tha the fight is far from over:

    Thousands and thousands of the smartest people in our country have pushed hard for 40 years, and to see so little actually accomplished is disturbing. We’re up against the huge power of the fossil fuel industry; the extraordinary ideological opposition to the federal government doing anything important; money going into disinformation campaigns that people readily bought into. And it’s still going on.

    It is a sure sign in my view that we need to change the system of political economy in which we are struggling. It’s sobering, as I say. But not discouraging, because we’re still fighting.

    You can read the full interview here.

  • New Book by Timothy Wise: Eating Tomorrow

    Please find the following announcement of a new book by GTN member Timoty Wise.

    Eating Tomorrow: Agribusiness, Family Farmers, and the Battle for the Future of Food

    By Timothy A. Wise (New Press, 2019)

    Few challenges are more daunting than feeding a global population projected to reach 9.7 billion in 2050—at a time when climate change is making it increasingly difficult to grow crops successfully. In response, corporate and philanthropic leaders have called for major investments in industrial agriculture, including genetically modified seed technologies. Reporting from Africa, Mexico, India, and the United States, Timothy A. Wise’s Eating Tomorrow discovers how in country after country agribusiness and its well-heeled philanthropic promoters have hijacked food policies to feed corporate interests.​

    “There is no we who feed the world. The world is mainly fed by hundreds of millions of small-scale farmers who grow 70 percent of developing countries’ food." —from Eating Tomorrow

    ​With his unique background in academic research, international development, and economic journalism, Wise takes readers far and wide in his quest to understand how governments, development agencies, and farmers themselves have responded to the challenge to help developing countries grow more of their own food by empowering their small-scale farmers.

    ​Wise talks to victims of land-grabbing in Mozambique, Monsanto officials trying to push genetically modified corn into Mexico, and Malawian farmers trying to preserve and promote their nutritious native seeds. Wise reports on the damage done to Mexican rural communities by the North American Free Trade Agreement and exposes the hypocrisy of U.S. officials using arcane World Trade Organization rules to curtail India’s ambitious national food security plan. He reports from Iowa, where biofuels and factory farms absorb industrial agriculture’s surpluses and the rivers flow with toxic runoff.​

    Wise reminds readers that we already grow enough food to feed 10 billion. The true path to eating tomorrow is alongside today’s resource-starved farmers, who can and will feed the hungry – if we let them.