Sustainable Degrowth and Relocalizing our Economies: An Interview with William Rees

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This blog is part of the 'Voices of New Economies' series within Cities for People - an experiment in advancing the movement toward urban resilience and livability through connecting innovation networks.
The Voices of New Economies series is collectively curated by One Earth and The Canadian CED Network.
This series is an exploration of what it takes to build the economies we need - ones that work for people, places, and the planet. We are connecting key actors, finding patterns, noting interesting differences, and highlighting key concepts and initiatives. Together, this series offers insights into the new economies movement as it develops.

By Jane Zhang*WmRees

  1. In your view, what are three key elements of "new economies"?
  • Recognizing natural limits
    The overarching problem is one that the mainstream has yet to acknowledge: on a planet already in overshoot, there is no possibility of raising even the present world population to developed country material standards sustainably with known technologies and available resources. By 2008, the world population had reached 6.7 billion—it’s 7.3 billion today—while there were only about 12 billion productive hectares on Earth, or just 1.8 average hectares per capita. We can refer to “1.8 average hectares per capita” as one’s equitable “Earth share.” It represents the biocapacity available to support each person, assuming the world’s productive ecosystems were distributed equally among the entire human population. The problem is, it currently takes 4-7 global average productive hectares to provide ‘natural income’ (resources) and life-support services to the average European or North American. How many more planets do we need for sustainability? You do the math!
  • Societal cooperation
    (Un)sustainability is a collective problem. No individual can implement the policies necessary (e.g. carbon taxes, resource quotas) to significantly reduce his/her ecological footprint or revamp the social programs needed for social stability. No country, however virtuous, can be sustainable on its own or remain insulated from global turmoil. Thus, the so-called developed world, long steeped in the rhetoric of competitive individualism, must now grapple with the notion that individual and national interests have all but converged with humanity’s common interests. Working co-operatively for the common good will require the ardent exercise of several intellectual and behavioural qualities that are unique (or nearly so) to our species, such as high intelligence, the ability to plan ahead, socio-behavioural means for cooperation, moral judgment, and empathy. The question is, are we up to the task or will we succumb to primitive combative tribalism?
  • Planned economic degrowth
    Renegrade economist Kenneth Boulding once said, “Anyone who believes in indefinite growth in anything physical, on a physically finite planet, is either mad or an economist.” The contemporary growth economy is a malignant social construct. We need to replace it with an ecologically benign and socially equitable no-growth variant. This idea is not new— in the mid-18th Century, Adam Smith predicted the slowing of growth as inevitable. Almost a century later, John Stuart Mill argued that society would reach a “stationery state”, but he hoped people would plan a deliberate transition to this steady state before nature imposed it upon them.

2. Why degrowth, and what does steady-state sustainability with justice look like?

First of all, remember that continuous growth of anything in a finite space is anomalous and ultimately self-correcting. For 99.9% of human history, local populations rarely grew for extended periods but rather fluctuated near carrying capacity as a function of food supplies, disease, etc. The recent 200 years of continuous growth that we consider the norm is actually the single most abnormal period in human history.

Keep in mind that economic production is actually mostly a consumptive process. Manufacturing, for example, immediately irreversibly transforms large quantities of useful energy and material into an equivalent mass of useless waste (and even the smaller quantity of useful product eventually joins the waste stream). Humans are literally converting the both the non-renewable and self-producing ‘resources’ of Earth into more human bodies, toys and furniture, and the infrastructure needed to maintain civilization. The present scale of economic activity depletes essential ecosystems faster than they can regenerate.

Remember too that beyond a certain income level (long passed in high-income countries), there is no further positive correlation between GDP per capita and objective indicators of either population health or perceived well-being. Indeed, growth can become destructive. Once basic material needs are met, it is not rich countries but rather countries with greater income equality that perform better on standard quality-of-life indicators. Greater social equity is “better for everyone.”

With integrated fiscal, tax, employment and population policies and the like, it should be possible to create an ecologically viable, more equitable, economically stable, no-growth economy with minimal unemployment and poverty. It is important to emphasize that such a ‘steady-state’ economy need not be a stagnant economy. It can be dynamic, evolving, constantly improving. For example, as we phase out obsolete industries, new technologies and the service sector will actually expand. The idea is to maintain energy and material consumption at constant sustainable levels while creating the conditions necessary for greater personal development and improved quality of life. Society needs to get better, not bigger.

3. How does this relate to cities?

Urban designers and planners should begin now to rethink cities—or rather urban regions—so they function as complete quasi-independent human ecosystems. The least vulnerable and most resilient urban system might be a new form of urban-centered bioregion, or eco-city state, in which a densely built-up core is surrounded by essential supportive ecosystems. The goal is to consolidate as much as possible of the human community’s productive hinterland in close proximity to its consumptive centre. Organic “wastes” and nutrients could then be economically recycled back to farms and forests. Such a bioregionalized city would reconnect its human population to “the land.” Citizens would see themselves to be directly dependent on local ecosystems and thus have a strong incentive to manage them sustainably. Ideally, regional eco-cities would develop economic and social planning policies to maintain sustainable populations and to facilitate reducing their residents’ ecological footprints to a globally equitable 1.8 gha per capita.

4. What does real wealth mean to you?

Real wealth is the contentment that comes from a sense of self-worth and belonging. Real wealth derives more from intangibles than from material goods. It is rooted in community, rich personal relationships, success in the achievement of one’s potential and the opportunity to contribute to the betterment of one’s society. It is dependent on the security of person that can come only from supportive family and friendships and a society characterized by well-developed social infrastructure (e.g., public education, health care) and governed for economic and ecological stability.

*Mostly adapted from “Avoiding Collapse: An agenda for sustainable degrowth and relocalizing the economy”

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William Rees is an ecological economist Professor Emeritus and former director of the University of British Columbia’s School of Community and Regional Planning. The originator of eco-footprint analysis, he has an extensive opus of peer-reviewed articles on the biophysical prerequisites for sustainability in an era of accelerating ecological change. Dr. Rees was a founding director and past-president of the Canadian Society for Ecological Economics, a founding director of the One Earth Initiative and, a Fellow of the Post-Carbon Institute and the winner of several major international awards.

Finding our Sorcerer: An Interview with Ken Lyotier

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This blog is part of the 'Voices of New Economies' series within Cities for People - an experiment in advancing the movement toward urban resilience and livability through connecting innovation networks.
The Voices of New Economies series is collectively curated by One Earth and The Canadian CED Network.
This series is an exploration of what it takes to build the economies we need - ones that work for people, places, and the planet. We are connecting key actors, finding patterns, noting interesting differences, and highlighting key concepts and initiatives. Together, this series offers insights into the new economies movement as it develops.

By Jane ZhangKen's face (1)

  1. In your view, what are the key elements of "new economies"?

 I really wonder if there is truly such a thing as “new economies”, or maybe just variations on old ones. New wealth is only created where there is additional human input, hopefully some of it genuinely innovative that produces some new value.   We happen to live in a material world where we spend a lot of time and energy converting some forms of material into other forms of material that we hope will be more useful to us, and have more value than what they were in their previous state.   Unfortunately, this process frequently ends up causing pollution.   Frequently the way we use materials is actually quite primitive.

For example, like some species of birds which are heavily invested biologically in dramatic colourful plumage used to attract mates, we humans do a lot of that kind of showing off too. We display our material possessions in ways that attempt to relate them to our value as individuals. I drive a big flashy car therefore I must be important. I own a mansion therefore I must be of worth as a human being. This kind of behaviour is a misuse of material.   It attempts to make material be and do something that it will never be able to be or do… Material possessions can never give us an accurate measure of a person’s character nor, apart from satisfying essential needs, or when used in creative expression to satisfy aesthetic senses, can they complete the spiritual and intellectual dimensions of being human. Perhaps some human qualities can be commodified and measured, like attaching a commonly agreed upon value to the worth of certain work, but I’m not so sure that things like human imagination can be so easily measured. In addition, time, space, and repetition of certain actions create structural boundaries that tend to limit abstract conceptions including our ability to even imagine genuinely different ways of creating value. Basically because we have a material aspect to us that is supported and sustained by material, we tend to get bound up in the material world.

  1. What does real wealth mean to you?

Real wealth is what is seen as having value because it is usable by humans. Real wealth needs to be used in ways that recognize its impact on the real world and protects us from potential dangers caused by its use in the physical and social environment.

There are costs attached to everything we do, whether it is as a result of the plants we eat or the soil we tread upon. In addition to existing in a material world, we exist in a functional reality, and I believe we need to become more sensitive to the impact we have on our surroundings.

It might be useful to contrast real wealth with “not real” wealth. I think we sometimes confuse what are actually the tools, such as money, used in the creation of real wealth.

  1. How have your life experiences shaped the way you view economies?

I’ve lived in Vancouver my whole life, and in making my way have come to live in Vancouver’s the Downtown Eastside for many years. There are many reasons why people live on the streets here. While living on and close to the street, I picked cans and bottles, and things that I thought might have value out of the garbage. In this process of hunting and gathering, I learned something about the amount of effort it took to collect material and convert it into currency, in this case nickels and dimes. While the compensation for this work may not have always equated to my sense of what would have constituted a fair value, it did at least equate to something inasmuch as I was able to exchange the currency I gained in this effort for goods to be had for a price in the broader economy.

For us in the West, there are other supports available that help compensate for the extremely limited returns that can be realized through activities like binning. Here in Vancouver, I think of us as living in the later days of the welfare state. We still have health care, homeless shelters, public income assistance, bread lines, and drop-in centres. During the years I was binning more seriously, all of these kinds of services were available to me. Such benefits are often not available in other parts of the world. While probably no one can ever truly have a life experience that equates exactly with someone else’s experience, I think that through my time on the streets and binning in Vancouver, I did gain some degree of empathy for people in other parts of the world whose standard of living is somehow managed on a very few dollars a day.

  1. What do you think we need to prioritize as a society and as individuals? 

We need to look at the broad sweep of human history, rather than this narrow perspective represented by the short few decades punctuated by our own births and deaths.

Human neediness, especially European neediness of recent centuries initially responded to actual material needs, but our economy has moved systematically over time from efforts to meet basic needs to attempting, as mentioned earlier, to fill our spiritual and intellectual needs with material. We’ve veered dramatically off on a tangent, which has done some serious damage to our own psyches, to other critters in the neighbourhood, and to the planet as a whole. It reminds me of the Mickey Mouse cartoon The Sorcerer’s Apprentice – we are still that apprentice though we don’t like to acknowledge it, we have created a flood of junk, and we desperately need the sorcerer back.

In our discovery of each other and our multitudes of various cultures, we’ve come face to face with the fact that on the surface anyway, the cultural values and beliefs of the diverse groups that go to make up the 8 billion of us who populate planet Earth, do not always seem to match. But hopefully we will be able to discover that there is a deeper unifying shared humanity slightly hidden underneath these apparent cultural divides. To make these discoveries about our common humanity requires some humility

As societies, we tend to want to find that one perfect solution, put it in a box, put our stamp of approval on it, and say, now we finally know the truth. It is all so self-contained. This tendency often gets us “stuck” and into a great deal of trouble. This life is not about packaging our solutions after all. It’s not about forcing our solutions on each other to prove how powerful and clever we are; it’s about what it means to care for one another and about the spirit that is generated in the process of this caring. I believe it will be crucial to our future, to learn to create safe places for ourselves and each other, where we can share our unique experiences of the truth together.

I’m an optimist. We humans have repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to cooperate in times of need, and this encourages me. Of course, we do have many counterexamples where civilizations have gone seriously off the rails. But we really need to get it right this time because the work we need to be doing is global in scale and if we get it wrong, we don’t have another planet where we can hide. To our advantage, we do have about 5000 years of written records and millions of years of archeological evidence from which to glean and learn.

We also need to change and adapt in an equitable way, and this likely means sharing power and wealth. It also means realizing that not everyone needs the same things at the same times. Adults have different needs than children, the sick, than the healthy… we need measures that respect these kinds of variables.

There is tremendous energy in the free market economy, with its ability to generate a pace of change that far exceeds the pace at which we are willing and able to address social inequities. If we could harness that energy and put it in the service of generating progressive social change, for example, we may be able to create the change we need. To succeed, this would take an unusual amount of humility willingness, hope, commitment, moral courage, and ultimately, action that is not only predicated on a guaranteed positive outcome but is also based on principles that allow us to distinguish right from wrong.

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Ken Lyotier was born in North Vancouver in 1947. He has lived and worked in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, a socially and economically depressed area of the City, for the past 30 years. In 1990, along with other members of his community, Ken began work to improve beverage container recycling services in Vancouver. He participated in discussions, which guided the drafting of regulations to expand industry stewardship of beverage container recycling in British Columbia.

He was also the founder and Executive Director of United We Can, a non-profit bottle depot, which has operated in downtown Vancouver since 1995. Ken’s work has been well recognized and he has received numerous awards and commendations including Meritorious Service and Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medals from the Governor General of Canada and an honorary Doctor of Law Degree from the University of British Columbia.

 

Freeing Ourselves from the ‘Free’ Market: An Interview with Nabeel Ahmed

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This blog is part of the 'Voices of New Economies' series within Cities for People - an experiment in advancing the movement toward urban resilience and livability through connecting innovation networks.
The Voices of New Economies series is collectively curated by One Earth and The Canadian CED Network.
This series is an exploration of what it takes to build the economies we need - ones that work for people, places, and the planet. We are connecting key actors, finding patterns, noting interesting differences, and highlighting key concepts and initiatives. Together, this series offers insights into the new economies movement as it develops.

By: Jane Zhang

Nabeel Ahmed

In your view, what are three (or key) elements of "new economies"?

  1. At the core, new economies have to be focused around people and protecting public interests, not falling prey to short-term, profit-driven private interests. They are designed with the real experiences of people in mind and both accessible and accountable to those people – not just the relative minority that most of the market caters to.
  1. We are often told that the current mainstream economic system is theoretically focused on the most efficient allocation of resources, which is pitched as the equivalent of maximizing returns to the greatest number of people. But we also know that structural failures, varying political interests and simple lapses and incompetence lead to massive inequity. So the second element is that new economies understand and take into account questions of power and privilege. They are grounded in an understanding that the economy and power are intimately linked and changes in one have powerful implications for the other.
  1. New Economies are normative, based on a set of values that center around questions of fairness, such as preventing oppression. Too often we hide behind shaky claims of objectivity and shake our heads sadly at the outcomes that follow. An approach that claims to be objective often fails to protect the basic values and rights that should be at the foundation of our society.

How does this relate to cities?

As sites of concentrating both people and ideas, cities are ideal grounds for piloting new economies that are connected and accountable to communities. Those who are supporting the development or adoption of these new economies can garner feedback from communities even in the process of trying out new ideas. It can be easier to track and measure the progress of a system in a dense area - and easier for people to hold others accountable.

And of course, cities are where most people already live and where power relations are most clearly visible - this supports the development of the new economies I began to describe above.

How have your personal experiences shaped the way you view economies?

Living in the big, city of Karachi, Pakistan is what drove me to think about and understand political economy. It's where I first understood how alternative models could flourish, when I learned about social enterprises and when I first began to poke holes in the mainstream economic system we live within. Since then my work has focused around helping great non-profits and social enterprises flourish, and in this I have been reminded over and over again of how pervasive economic and political structures are.

Even when initiatives think they are somehow free of , even when entrepreneurs resolve to stick to their values and never compromise on their beliefs, they eventually succumb and either submit or fail. The most stable, well-funded and well-respected organizations are and don't ruffle too many feathers. Large multinational non-profits know that it is risky to be too outspoken, to be too honest. This is deeply frustrating to me because it means that markers have been laid down about what constitutes acceptable speech or not, and clearly shows how economic dependence stifles freedom.

What does real wealth mean to you?

Real wealth is knowing that you and your loved ones are safe and comfortable. That's a peace of mind that I think really gives people the freedom to pursue their dreams and passions (beyond having the means necessary, of course - but safety and comfort are based on material well-being). Most people in this world struggle for basic security (broadly defined) and a minimum level of comfort, so can never be the best versions of themselves because they may never have the opportunity to explore what that means, let alone meaningfully pursue it. That's a huge loss and I think a feeling of safety, broadly defined, is something that all truly wealthy people enjoy.

Real wealth leads to real freedom.

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Nabeel Ahmed helps non-profit social enterprises launch target-based sustainability programs in Ontario as Member Experience Manager at Sustainability CoLab. Nabeel worked at the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing as the Managing Editor of SocialFinance.ca before a fellowship with Aga Khan Foundation Canada in Kyrgyzstan. He is currently a Guest Editor on the New Economies theme with Cities for People and volunteers for a number of local and international non-profits. Nabeel studied public policy and administration at the University of Toronto after business school in Karachi. He enjoys cricket, culture (especially from the subcontinent) and good arguments.

New Economies and Community Economic Development: For People, Place and Planet – An interview with Mike Toye

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This blog is part of the 'Voices of New Economies' series within Cities for People - an experiment in advancing the movement toward urban resilience and livability through connecting innovation networks. 

The Voices of New Economies series is collectively curated by One Earth and The Canadian CED Network

This series is an exploration of what it takes to build the economies we need - ones that work for people, places, and the planet. We are connecting key actors, finding patterns, noting interesting differences, and highlighting key concepts and initiatives. Together, this series offers insights into the new economies movement as it develops.

By Jane Zhang Mike Toye

  1. In your view, what are some key elements of "new economies"?
  • Holistic measures of progress: There are many new measures bubbling up (eg. Gross National Happiness), but they need to take a more central place in decision-making, and they need to be refined and expanded in what they measure and how well they measure.
  • Respect natural limits: I see this as one of the central flaws of our current economic system. Environmental goods and their externalized costs are a major blind spot; we need to internalize those costs and respect natural limits, especially in the context of climate change. We have to work with nature, not against it.
  • (Eco)systems thinking: the recognition of the influence of relationships, and that human beings are not only part of the world, but connected to the world. This includes relationships between people and nature, but also between people, including the new connections that technology is facilitating. Taking a systems lens to thinking about economy and society is a foundation for understanding the impacts of decisions and actions.
  • Democratizing the economy & localizing control: New technologies can facilitate crowdsourced investment, connections and participation, but in-person communities, human and social capital are crucial. We are experimenting with the new ways technology allows us to connect, and re-discovering some older wisdom about organizing. The bottom line is that there’s an essential role for human connections in democratizing the economy.
  1. Why is neighbourhood-level development important? 

I think “communities” is the term most often used in CCEDNet, in part because it’s widely applicable, from geographic neighborhoods to communities of identity or interest. A community is a venue for people to get organized, connect and learn about each other, identify shared interests, challenges, opportunities to cooperate, and to change. For example, an immigrant community has specific needs – developing language skills, getting help to reach out to employers or starting businesses – and the foundation is that a community acts as an organizing vehicle to address those needs and create change.

  1. How do these relate to cities? 

Since cities have the highest concentrations of people, they are among the most dynamic places for connections, opportunities, and possibilities to be created. But the way they’ve been built has disconnected us from nature and each other. Cities need to be understood as part of broader regions. We need to recognize urban-rural relationships and the flows of goods and services, including ecological services, that a broader region provides. On the human side, there are many ways that cities can be better designed to deliberately create opportunities for relationships and cooperation, and connect the different spheres of our lives. Much of today's built environment was created when zoning and building practices reflected an older mentality of separation. Integrating systems thinking into the design of cities can create opportunities for people to relate and care for each other better.

  1. What are some major challenges to enhancing sustainable local economies?

In the New Economies world, there is a significant focus on business & finance, with valuable attention paid on growing more blended business models (social enterprises, BCorps, co-ops) and new finance models (impact investing, new types of investment capital, crowdfunding). These are creating lots of local opportunities for transition, which is exciting. However, I'd say there is less attention on places and people, from our angle of community economic development. Ideally, we should be connecting the dots between all four pillars: business, finance, places and people.

Another one of our biggest challenges is communicating these opportunities to a wider audience, both professionals in various sectors and the general public, in a way that is meaningful and engaging.

A good example of a places- and people-centered project is the Quint Development Corporation in Saskatoon, which has a mandate for the city's core neighborhoods. Among the local residents, there is a large Aboriginal population that has particular needs, so the employment and housing opportunities are combined with outreach that is tailored to their needs.

  1. What does real wealth mean to you?

Real wealth means freedom, well-being, and happiness, for current and future generations, and fairly distributed for as many people as possible.

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Michael Toye became Executive Director of CCEDNet in August of 2008, bringing a deep background in community economic development (CED) to the Director's chair. Upon earning his Master of Social Work at McGill, Michael helped set up two worker co-operatives that provide research, consulting and training services related to CED and the social economy. Michael's involvement with CCEDNet dates back to 2000 when he helped organize CCEDNet's National Policy Forum while serving as a coordinator with the Coopérative de consultation en développement La Clé.

More recently Michael has deepened his knowledge of Canadian social policy and parliamentary process serving as a policy analyst at the Library of Parliament in Ottawa, while teaching courses on CED and social enterprise at Concordia University. Michael has written a number of articles and other publications on CED and the social economy, including co-editing the book, Community Economic Development: Building for Social Change.

Financing the Shift to Low-Carbon Economies: An Interview with Justin Ritchie

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This blog is part of the 'Voices of New Economies' series within Cities for People - an experiment in advancing the movement toward urban resilience and livability through connecting innovation networks. 

The Voices of New Economies series is collectively curated by One Earth and The Canadian CED Network

This series is an exploration of what it takes to build the economies we need - ones that work for people, places, and the planet. We are connecting key actors, finding patterns, noting interesting differences, and highlighting key concepts and initiatives. Together, this series offers insights into the new economies movement as it develops.

By Jane Zhang

  1. In your view, what are three (or key) elements of "new economies"? justin headshot

A key part of developing a New Economy is through redefining what it means to have a viable investment. I see that now with divestment, a movement that is stigmatizing the idea of investing in fossil fuel infrastructure, and diverting those funds to invest morally for the future. In the past, ideas of natural capital and externalities weren’t available to us. Now we understand what environmental and human impacts are. The idea of financial return hasn’t incorporated that yet.

Finding the investment – financial and labour resources – to fuel this low carbon future will be very important. From a traditional cost-benefit analysis, it may be that a low-carbon economy never makes sense, and we may not be able to sell it to your typical CFO. But we’ll need to mobilize not only at the government and municipal level but also at the level of individual firms.

  1. How does this relate to cities?

With the existing built infrastructure in North America, it’s still hard to get by without a car in many places. We are sprawled out, but on the verge of many new technologies that will change our relationships to vehicles. Whether it’s Uber or car-sharing, new options are slowly whittling away at the incentives for individual car ownership. In 10 or 20 years, things will look very different, and it won’t necessarily be for environmental reasons. Owning a car can mean $6,000 to $9,000 in gas and maintenance fees every year, and you may just decide that it makes more financial sense to spend a fraction of that on a car-sharing membership.

Cities will need to densify in a way that maintains mobility. Patrick Condon at UBC’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture has done a lot of work on regional planning in Vancouver and his modeling work shows that we can add about 800,000 people to the city without building another highrise – it can all be done with four to six-story buildings. Vancouver is actually not that dense, though we like to think it so. Our expectations around returns on real estate biases Yaletown-style highrise development, but a study from the Vancouver Foundation shows that the sense of community in these kinds of buildings is not that great. I hope we move towards more holistic regional planning that accounts for affordable real estate, and a retrofitting of suburbia that works with existing physical and social infrastructure.

  1. How do we finance the shift to low carbon?

How municipalities will finance infrastructure will be the key question for coming decades. In Vancouver, sea level rise will become an issue. With all the municipality’s existing obligations like health, education, etc., how are we going to finance climate change adaptation needs? We need to retrofit the city’s water infrastructure, and the full costs of living are going to change. Where the money will come from is still an open question. Based on my recent research on fossil fuel divestment, one possibility is putting the money divested from fossil fuels into proactive funds or bonds or anything that can address the needs for infrastructure changes. We’ll have to look towards forward-thinking policy, and carbon taxes and pricing carbon always helps.

  1. Can you share a few success stories of low-carbon transitions?

The city of Feldheim in Germany was forward thinking and has transitioned away from fossil fuel and nuclear electricity completely. Communities are starting to co-own and produce 100% renewable electricity, and that can actually be a revenue source for communities. From a financial perspective, borrowing rates are lower than anyone anticipated years ago and have stayed that way. When European governments had almost zero yielding debt, people are putting money into government bonds that only have less than 1% or negative returns – very risk-averse investments. So if you had the option to put your money into a solar farm, with a rate of return of three to five percent a year, that looks much more attractive.

Another great example is Solar City, which is using securitization of solar installations and bulk packaging them together as a financial instrument you can put money into, as solar is quite reliable as an investment. There are programs like Mosaic Solar in California that allows individuals to invest in solar installations and Abundance Generation in the UK which is a peer-to-peer platform to invest in renewable energy projects. Here in Vancouver, our credit union Vancity just started a fossil-free investment fund.

  1. What does real wealth mean to you?

I like to go back to the early days of capitalism, when Adam Smith wrote about the “invisible hand” in 1776. That’s the idea that most people jumped on, but less talked about is his theory of moral sentiments: the moral developments of human society as a result of the pursuit of wealth. He wrote about a mutual sympathy, something like a physical force that ties society together. That’s the reason why trends go viral. We as humans have a deep innate desire to see our sentiments shared by others.

To me, real wealth is about prioritizing human well-being, healthy personal relationships, and biasing that before the accumulation of financial capital.

A good friend of mine who worked in several major investment banks told me that people don’t want money; they want the feelings that money gives them, and so often you can get those brain chemicals delivered by the experiences we purchase with money in different ways.
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Justin Ritchie is a research analyst and digital media broadcaster who works on data motivated inquiries into a low carbon energy transition and financial systems at UBC's Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability in Vancouver, BC. He is also the co-founder and producer of The Extraenvironmentalist Podcast and XE Live Broadcast video production company.

Making the Leap to a True Economy: An Interview with David LePage

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This blog is part of the 'Voices of New Economies' series within Cities for People - an experiment in advancing the movement toward urban resilience and livability through connecting innovation networks. 

The Voices of New Economies series is collectively curated by One Earth and The Canadian CED Network

This series is an exploration of what it takes to build the economies we need - ones that work for people, places, and the planet. We are connecting key actors, finding patterns, noting interesting differences, and highlighting key concepts and initiatives. Together, this series offers insights into the new economies movement as it develops.

By Jane ZhangDavid LePage

After working in the non-profit and social enterprise arena for over three decades, David LePage founded Accelerating Social Impact in 2013 to pioneer an unusual type of business – a Community Contribution Company. This hybrid enterprise model blends the traditional for-profit corporate model with a targeted social purpose, and allocates 60% of its dividends to this purpose. This differs from typical social purpose businesses and benefit corporations, who are not legally bound to divert profits from investors.

The purpose of ASI itself is to accelerate this blended business world and help invigorate the social value of business, from policy all the way to purchasing and supply.

  1. In your view, what are some key elements of "new economies"?

I think it’s actually the old economy. In North America 2000 years ago, the Aboriginal communities had a thriving cross-continent trading system that went from Mexico to Quebec to Vancouver, based on the exchange of goods and services to create healthy communities. If you trace historically the exchange of goods and services anywhere, it was based on a culture of mutual benefit, or “what do you have that I need?” mentality.

It wasn’t until the industrial revolution that we developed this idea of “you can’t have what I have unless you pay me more”. We created workers and factories, exploitation and the profit motive.

What some call the “new economy” is what I call the “true economy” or “community economy” – the economy as a tool to help us create healthy communities. In the modern world, we’ve switched it around and made the economy the objective.

  1. How do we make the leap to a community economy in the 21st century?

A recent article by Robert Reich looked at how many people employed now are actually producing material things. When you add in the new technology of 3D production and robotic construction, there aren’t many people making things. We’re just exchanging dollars and services. I think the conversation we’re having is about shifting the culture of today’s economy. It’s a new exchange, but we haven’t figured out how to shift from the old model of paying someone to make stuff and someone else buying it. The structure of our economy needs to catch up with how we function as a society.

  1. What would a more just and equitable system look like?

We need to change the structure of the economy and what we value as a society. We still have a minimum wage that makes people poor, and that working at fast food restaurant is not a legitimate job. We need to rethink what’s considered professional versus a service. We now have doctors running businesses based on what they can charge, yet people working in the service industry - nurses, naturopaths, homeopaths, and others outside of mainstream - having to struggle because it’s not seen as professional. This applies to any industry, where the dichotomy of working and owning is just changing.

Another aspect is that we have to do the environmental, social and economic all together. People complain about WalMart selling organic food because organic without a fair living wage is only halfway there.

More people nowadays are conscious of externalized social and environmental costs. The government has subsidized so many things to create a market for certain partners. We just don’t know what a McDonald’s hamburger costs, for instance. When we account for all of its impact on environment, society, and future generations, who’s going to pay $175 for a hamburger? We need to look past the artificially low prices, and be aware of the actual “costs” of what we’re buying.

  1. Are today’s new sharing economy platforms good examples of “true economy”?

Again, people are saying this is all new, but libraries have been around for a long time, and they’re a great example of the sharing economy. Farmers have had co-ops for almost 200 years and other models like tool-sharing and credit unions. Calling it the sharing economy and exploiting people doesn’t make it any different from the traditional economy. Take Uber for example, where they charge people more at busier times. Instead of paying a taxi driver, you’re just paying this other guy. I think whenever we create a platform, we have to look behind the name and evaluate the exchange value.

  1. How do these relate to cities?

As more opportunities arise, we won’t have everyone moving to cities but we may start having urban and rural cities again. In Canada especially, we have a concentration of people in urban areas, and rural communities are devastated in terms of jobs and opportunities. If we start to shift the meaning of a job or opportunity, people can start to be healthy in their own communities.

  1. What does real wealth mean to you?

Real wealth is putting community ahead of the individual. It’s not just about financial capital but social, cultural, and environmental capital as well. What truly makes a community wealthy is having a balance, maybe even an abundance, of multiple capitals.

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David LePage is a Principal with Accelerating Social Impact CCC, Ltd. (ASI), one of Canada’s first ever hybrid corporations. ASI CCC was created to serve and promote the emerging blended value business and social finance sectors. David works as a consultant, trainer and advisor with a cross section of social enterprises, social purpose businesses and social impact investors. He is a founder of Buy Social Canada, an initiative to promote social purchasing and social enterprise certification.

David is the Chair of the Social Enterprise Council of Canada. He serves as a Program Adjunct to the Sandermoen School of Business MBA in Social Enterprise Leadership. He is a member of the Social Enterprise World Forum Steering Group, the Canadian CED Network Policy Council, Imagine Canada’s Advisory Committee, and BC’s Partners for Social Impact. He is a Board member of the Vancouver Farmer’s Market and a Board member of Ethelo Decisions. David is the former Team Manager of enp-BC and played a lead role in the development of enp-Canada.

ARTIST ROUND TABLE: New Economies

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ART-Main-Black-Tranparent
Friday, May 29, 2015, 9:00 – 11:00 A.M.
SFU Woodward's - Goldcorp Centre for the Arts
Djavad Mowafaghian World Art Centre
149 W Hastings St., Vancouver, BC, Canada

 

Can art challenge us to shift our economy to one that embraces sustainability, equality, and justice? Can we create local and global economies that are not only resilient and thriving but inclusive of everyone?

The Artist Round Table (A.RT) on New Economies brings together a diverse group of panellists who have provocative ideas about art, economy, and transformative change. Set within a staged 1983 corporate boardroom, the A.RT will kick off with a presentation by artist Marilou Lemmens about her collaborative, multidisciplinary practice with Richard Ibghy. Lemmens will present artistic projects that explore the ways in which the economic system pervades nearly every facet of our daily lives. In response, panellists from various fields will engage in a lively discussion, digging deeply into the issues at the heart of the duo’s practice. The panellists will draw on their experiences in the realms of art and culture, activism and citizenship, and sustainability and radical urbanism as they tell stories, debate ideas, and challenge each other and the audience with thought-provoking questions. The audience will be invited into a discourse on the emergence of a new economy and how art can be a driving force for social change.

FEATURING:

Marilou Lemmens is a visual artist based in Durham-Sud and Montreal, Quebec where she works in collaboration with Richard Ibghy. Spanning various media, including video, performance, and installation, their work explores the material, affective, and sensory dimensions of experience that cannot be fully translated into signs or systems. For several years, they have examined the rationale upon which economic actions are described and represented, and how the logic of economy has come to infiltrate the most intimate aspects of life. Their work has been shown nationally and internationally, including at La Biennale de Montréal (Montreal, 2014), 27th Images Festival (Toronto, 2014), La Filature, Scène Nationale (Mulhouse, France, 2013-14), Centre for Contemporary Arts (Glasgow, 2012), and the 10th Sharjah Biennial (Sharjah, UAE, 2011), among others.

WITH PANELLISTS:

Community organizer, writer, and activist Matt Hern teaches at UBC and is known for his work in radical urbanism, community development, and alternative forms of education. He is founder of the Purple Thistle Centre, Car-Free Vancouver Day, and Groundswell: Grassroots Economic Alternatives.

An avid seeker of beauty, authentic connections, and learning, Cédric Jamet has been involved in a flurry of citizen-led projects, exploring the relationship between urban imaginary, active citizenship, and the co-creation of sustainable cities. Most recently, he helped start 100in1day in Montreal and is completing an M.A. in Human Systems Intervention from Concordia University.

Artist and cultural producer Todd Lester has dedicated his career to supporting and enabling socially engaged artists around the world. He is a senior fellow at the World Policy Institute and founder of both freeDimensional and Lanchonete.org.

RSVP
a-rt-new-economies.eventbrite.ca

CONTACT
ross@adjacentpossibilities.org

LOCATION
SFU Woodward's Goldcorp Centre for the Arts
Djavad Mowafaghian World Art Centre
149 W Hastings St.Vancouver, BC, Vancouver, Canada

The Artist Round Table on New Economies is an experiment of Adjacent Possibilities, Musagetes, One Earth, and Cities for People. It is one in a series of international roundtables in which artists can share their ideas and projects with scientists, historians, Aboriginal leaders, policymakers, politicians, community organizers, and social movement leaders. Musagetes initially developed the A.RT approach in collaboration with Todd Lester.

Adjacent Possibilities
Adjacent Possibilities is a creative agency experimenting at the intersection of art, technology and society’s most complex challenges. We connect adjacent types of thinkers: artists, entrepreneurs, policy makers and others, to explore what possibilities might emerge from these unlikely combinations of thought in addressing daunting questions of human resilience. Our work is fuelled by a belief in our ingenuity as a species and includes the curation, design and production of exhibitions, facilitation of workshops and strategic planning, consulting on organizational strategy, and production of film and creative media.

One_Earth_logo_on_whiteJPG
One Earth is a nonprofit ‘think and do’ tank based in Vancouver, Canada. Our mission is to transform production and consumption patterns locally, nationally and internationally to be sustainable, healthy, and just within the limits of living systems. Our passion is bringing people, ideas and activities together to accelerate the transition towards sustainability - we catalyze networking and action on the issues we care about. One Earth adopts a systems approach to identify high-impact solutions, and engages the arts and citizens to create compelling visions of life in sustainable futures.

Musagetes logo
Musagetes, the curator of the Art and Society theme of Cities for People, is an international organization that makes the arts more central and meaningful in people’s lives, in our communities, and in our societies. The arts play a fundamental role in mediating our life experiences, making artistic creativity central to healthy, empathic, social, and conscientious ways of living. Art creates a space for thinking differently, for opening up new possibilities for ourselves and the world around us.

Cities for People
Cities for People, a grassroots movement that looks at the resilience and liveability of cities, asks the question: how can we enhance social, ecological, and economic well-being and help civic cultures thrive? We are approaching this from the perspectives of four themes: Art and Society, CityScapes, Citizen Spaces, and New Economies. Each of these themes has a curating organization that is gathering compelling stories, connecting people within and across fields, and experimenting with new ways to approach old problems.

Lead Image: Richard Ibghy & Marilou Lemmens, Is there anything left to be done at all? (2014), five-channel video, sound, sculpture, dimensions variable. Video still.

Philanthropy and Social Enterprise: An Interview with Anne Jamieson

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This blog is part of the 'Voices of New Economies' series within Cities for People - an experiment in advancing the movement toward urban resilience and livability through connecting innovation networks. 

The Voices of New Economies series is collectively curated by One Earth and The Canadian CED Network

This series is an exploration of what it takes to build the economies we need - ones that work for people, places, and the planet. We are connecting key actors, finding patterns, noting interesting differences, and highlighting key concepts and initiatives. Together, this series offers insights into the new economies movement as it develops.

By Jane ZhangAJamieson

1. In your view, what are three key elements of "new economies"?

  • Collaboration at the individual and organization level is hugely important because there are many groups focused on a particular activity or vision, but we all need to work together.
  • Using the traditional marketplace to accomplish our social, cultural, or environmental mission.
  • Cross-sectoral partnerships with the corporate and public sectors. We should not set up an antagonistic relationship with large corporations, but really build on good work being done to get the best of all worlds.

2. What is the role of philanthropy in new or social economies?

It’s a critical pivot point for the new economy because there are people in the philanthropic world who are able to take more risk and have a better understanding of how the marketplace works in a traditional sense, and also understand how it might work for social good. What we call the “first risk” – the most risky capital – can be philanthropic capital. There are just as many types of philanthropists as there are activities in the social economy, but philanthropy can be the catalyst for a social economy. We just have to be careful that it’s not the only pillar on which the social economy rests.

For new social enterprises, the aim is to diversify the sources of revenue, with sales being the primary focus, and might be supplemented by government funding, grants from charitable organizations, donations, and fundraising activities.

3. What is the Toronto Enterprise Fund?

The TEF is a funding partnership between four contributors: United Way Toronto, the City of Toronto, the Province of Ontario, and the federal government’s Homelessness Partnering Strategy. Our fund was set up in 2000 to invest in social enterprises to hire people that are marginalized, primarily people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. We have supported 50 unique enterprises and currently support 18. We provide seed funding for startups, three-year operating funds, and continual support to those that meet our goals of generate significant revenue from sales, and moving towards being proximal business that helps a certain type of individual to become permanently connected to the labour market. For most part, the fund has been extremely successful in helping people disconnected from labour market to become and stay connected.

One of most successful social enterprises is Furniture Link, which is part of a charity called Furniture Bank, which accepts used donated furniture and reuses it for people who are moving out of shelters into independent accommodation. Furniture Link provides the paid service of furniture pickup, and employs about 30 workers who have multiple barriers to employment, whether they are living in shelters, newcomers to Canada, or youth unable to find work.

4. How does this relate to the city of Toronto?

Toronto has been around for hundreds of years, and grown enormously in last 50 years without strong urban planning. My sense is that there hasn’t been a strategy to include the social economy or social enterprises in the planning. However, that’s starting to change. In the last few years we have been rezoning our inner suburbs, which have been plagued by low levels of community service organizations, high unemployment, and unattractive residential towers. Part of the challenge is that these communities are zoned 100% residential, which means there are no businesses nearby. The rezoning would mean the businesses can be located in the towers or adjacent locations. That will help to change the dynamic of those areas to create local employment, access to goods and services, and reduce reliance on cars. Many of these businesses will be part of traditional economy, but there is now space for organizations to think about how they can help revitalize these communities through social enterprise.

5. What is the role of traditional businesses in the new economy?

In the last few years, more and more businesses are interested in being part of social economy. Many traditional business are going for the BCorps certification, which for some may be a marketing exercise and for others are grounded in their values. For years, large corporations have been looking to include sustainability, and are now looking to be more socially beneficial. This might be changing the way they hire, including people who are marginalized. There is a movement driven by the philanthropic and non-profit sector to get businesses to be aware of their social impacts, but I’m noticing that the businesses themselves are much more interested in making those changes. This is happening at all different levels from businesses operated by individuals to family businesses to large multinational corporations. I’m hopeful that this is not just fringe movement, but a deep-seated visionary movement.

6. What does real wealth mean to you?

From a community point of view, real wealth is about relations between people, sense of safety, access to goods and services, and having mechanisms for problem-solving. A wealthy community would be diverse and inclusive.

On an individual level, real wealth means having a job that allows you to be a net contributor (rather than net receiver) to the economy and to society.
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Anne Jamieson is Senior Manager, Toronto Enterprise Fund, at United Way Toronto. In addition to overseeing grants to a portfolio of social enterprises, Anne is committed to building a strong, vibrant and sustainable social enterprise sector in Canada. She launched the Canadian Conference on Social Enterprise series in 2004, is a founding member of the Social Enterprise Council of Canada, chairs the Ontario Social Economy Roundtable, and is involved with the Toronto Community Benefits Network. She presents regularly on social enterprise development and impact investing at conferences, seminars and webinars.

Anne’s background is in small business development and, for contrast, international commercial finance. She helped young entrepreneurs get started with loans and mentoring while working at the Canadian Youth Business Foundation, and before that provided self-employment training and advice to out-of-work aspiring business owners in her position at the Community Business Resource Centre. Anne previously worked in the UK in trade finance and commercial lending. Anne holds an MBA from Ivey, and an Honours BA from U of T.

Voices of New Economies: Cities, Fair Trade, and the 21st Century Economy

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Cities, Fair Trade, and the 21st Century Economy
By Sean McHugh

Building a 21st century economy is not an easy endeavour by any means. That said, we’re at an interesting point in history where the decisions we make today, will have long standing effects on the generations to come.

SeanMcHughHeadshotTo date, we (in Canada) have lived in a world of abundance. Our economy has grown steadily, our ability to access the goods and services we need have been available to us, and we’ve enjoyed relative calm, compared to much of the world. Canada has largely stayed hidden from view, and we have been looked upon as both friendly and welcoming.

Canada has changed in recent years however, as has the world. Countries which were once considered “'Third World” now garner considerable attention on the world stage, traditional centres of power are changing, Canada’s position in the world has changed, and our values, goals, and aspirations have changed; some by choice, others through necessity or circumstance.

While the world has evolved and become increasingly interconnected in many ways, it has grown apart in many others. Income inequality has topped the charts, and new threats (such as climate change) threaten our very existence. We now stand on the edge of a divide, with traditional values, methods, theories and approaches on one side, and new, changing, and innovative ideas on the other. Will we move away from fossil fuels (because the burning of them is changing our atmosphere), or will we shift to solar, wind, geothermal, and other sources of clean energy and technology?

On a global level, we’ve got hard choices to make. Today, 1.1 billion people continue to live on less than one dollar a day, and the majority of the world’s inhabitants continue to struggle. Despite broad sweeping economic policy reform, free trade agreements, and the opening up of the world’s economies, wealth has become increasingly consolidated, rather than distributed, as notions of trickle-down theories falsely promised. Instead of seeing economic gain, workers, labourers, and farmers find themselves stuck, with little opportunity for advancement or change.

So what are we going to do about it? How are we going to turn the current situation on its head and build a better world, of which everyone is a part?

Governments at all levels absolutely have a role to play, as they have the ability to put in place protections and systems that can enable all of us. But in many cases government, international accords and agreements, corporate structure, and trade policies, have locked us into a world that is difficult to change.

We can circumvent these barriers however, by building alternative economies. Each of us chooses what type of world we want to live in, through what we buy and where we invest. Choosing one banana over another, or one bag of coffee over another, can in fact restructure the system from the ground up. Buying from a better business, who sources and sells fair trade, means shifting revenue from a system which is exploitative, to one that is empowering; if everyone made that choice, change would unfold rapidly. Similarly, if everyone looked at where their investments sit, and made the choice to pull them out of oil, and put them into solar or wind, we would see a drastic shift in priority, and wealth.

Public institutions such as municipalities and universities are at the forefront of this shift. Both are in touch with their constituents, and are accountable to them. They are being bold, challenging traditional norms, and setting the ground-work for new economies. When a university (such as UBC is close to doing) divests its 1.3 billion dollar endowment fund and shifts it to cleaner energy and other areas of focus; that shocks the system, the market, and the economy. When a city commits to becoming Fair Trade Designated, it commits to sourcing and selling fair trade coffee, tea, and sugar that have come from better sources that empower rather than exploit, redirecting considerable flows of money, which again, changes the system.

Our cities and communities in Canada are now at the forefront, investing in the future, rather than in the past. They are becoming more liveable, more enjoyable, and more community-oriented spaces. They are leading globally through activities such as ethical procurement, investment in clean energy and technology, alternative transportations from bikes to transit, recycling, and divestment.

We’re at both a scary time and an exciting time. There is doom and gloom, and there is also incredible promise. Our cities are leading the way, and will continue to do so, if each of us ensures that they do. The action of choosing fair trade items is simple, but important. The values and impacts run deep, and are part of something much larger.

Relevant Links:

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Sean is the founder and Executive Director of the Canadian Fair Trade Network (CFTN). Since 2009, he has worked with Fair Trade Vancouver, helping the municipality become Canada’s 11th Fair Trade City in May 2010. Sean also worked to support the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University in becoming Canada’s first and second Fair Trade Campuses. For the past two years, Sean has worked to strengthen the Fair Trade movement in Canada by founding and then leading the CFTN in its work to support advocates across Canada, helping to share resources and create connections between stakeholders. Sean is a graduate of Simon Fraser University and has worked and travelled in developing countries around the world.

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This blog is part of the 'Voices of New Economies' series within Cities for People - an experiment in advancing the movement toward urban resilience and livability through connecting innovation networks.

The Voices of New Economies series is collectively curated by One Earth and The Canadian CED Network.

This series is an exploration of what it takes to build the economies we need - ones that work for people, places, and the planet. We are connecting key actors, finding patterns, noting interesting differences, and highlighting key concepts and initiatives. Together, this series offers insights into the new economies movement as it develops.

Voices of New Economies – Nature As the Reflection of Our Best Selves

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By Victoria Wee

What are some key elements of “new economies”?
Victoriapic
1. Education for sustainable development integrated at all levels of education.
There is a lot I am grateful to the public education system for. However it’s clear that currently there is a lack of education for sustainable development in the classroom. Concepts of what constitutes sustainable development, its history, its issues and challenges, and its applications to real life have to be made common knowledge. How else can we have the skills and attitudes required to choose sustainable lifestyles? Looking back at my years in the Canadian provincial system, sustainable development was commonly reduced to flat ideas about the environment and conservation. Though important concepts, these are not enough to empower and motivate large-scale behavioral change.

An important component is also looking to new, non-traditional ways of teaching. I am a big proponent of experiential education and have been lucky to have learned about issues like consumption and production, climate change, and the state of policy through independent participatory learning programs. We need to have government and citizens both committed to the idea that sustainable development should no longer be seen as an “interest” developed in a few enterprising students, but as a necessary part of life, and a necessary component to shaping an informed society.

2. Holding true to the Principle of Non-Regression
We need forward movement on stakeholder participation and engagement in all arenas. The non-regression principle is an international law principle which requires that norms that have been adopted by States cannot be changed, if changing them means moving backward on the protection of collective and individual rights. In practice, it means that we need to continue to bash and batter at the institutional constructs that hold citizens and decision-makers at arms-length of each other. We need to break down the glass wall between negotiating bodies and the people they are negotiating for, and we need to be vigilant watchdogs on any attempt to lessen the presence and input of stakeholders. I am using the Principle of Non-Regression particularly to refer to meaningful and effective citizen participation, but it is certainly something that applies horizontally to other, even all, concepts.

3. Empowering the next generation
Including young people in meaningful conversation is an emerging practice that bodies such as the United Nations and certain governments are beginning to implement. That’s certainly a good step! But let’s also jump forward and make sure that conversations aren’t all that we are having. I’ll let you in on a secret: young people are the ingredient X to really carving out the future that we want. Polling youth and engaging the social media generation on Twitter or Google Hangout is a solid start – but it’s really just a baby step and one that does not leverage the massive, massive latent power that a group comprising almost half of the world’s population naturally has. If we can engineer a behavioral shift in demographic of under-25 year olds, the consequences are enough to change the direction of our collective futures.

Real wealth is understanding that we need nature to be the reflection of our best selves. It is living the good life, but not necessarily the same “good life” that some of us are living now. Real wealth is living in a way that is fulfilling and free, certain in our knowledge that we are making choices that do not compromise the ability of future generations to live their lives in the same way. As a computer science major, I am reminded of the concept of recursion – the process of repeating items in a self-similar way. Our generation needs to be the base-case, the leaders who define the new, long-term values of the good life, and serve as the standard by which the succeeding generation borrows from. Then, our succeeding generation serves as the standard for the following, who pass on inherited values to the next, and so on. So buckle up! It’s all dominoes from here.

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Victoria Wee is completing her bachelor's degree in Computer Science at Stanford University. As the Youth Engagement Director of We Canada, she led the organization of a national mobilization tour to consult Canadians across the country in preparation for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, Rio+20). On the tour, "Dialogues and Action for Earth Summit 2012," Victoria hosted presentations and workshops at schools universities in sixteen cities. The results of these consultations were compiled into a report submitted as stakeholder input into UNCSD, and published in a paper co-authored in Earth Common Journal. After spending the summer studying climate change in the Arctic, Victoria coordinated an international youth declaration to the Arctic Council in 2011, and founded an initiative to widen youth representation opportunities in the Arctic Council. Victoria was a workshop facilitator at the 2011 UNEP Tunza Children and Youth Conference in Bandung, Indonesia, and the 2013 UNEP Tunza Youth Conference in Nairobi, Kenya. The Starfish Canada named Victoria 2012's Top Canadian Environmentalist Under 25. At Stanford, you can find Victoria coordinating events for the Stanford Society of Women Engineers, coding up a storm, or learning about technology design and policy.

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This blog is part of the 'Voices of New Economies' series within Cities for People - an experiment in advancing the movement toward urban resilience and livability through connecting innovation networks.

The Voices of New Economies series is collectively curated by One Earth and The Canadian CED Network.

This series is an exploration of what it takes to build the economies we need - ones that work for people, places, and the planet. We are connecting key actors, finding patterns, noting interesting differences, and highlighting key concepts and initiatives. Together, this series offers insights into the new economies movement as it develops.