With growing concern about critical ecological and social challenges and the inability of existing policy arrangements to address the failings of the mainstream economic system, there is an upsurge in experiments in alternative approaches to economics.
Innovative ideas, initiatives and projects have been emerging for decades, such as co-operatives, however, there is a rapid increase since the financial crisis as government, business, civil society, academia and citizens alike search for solutions. There remains debate as to the scope, scale and nature of these solutions; however, there is a common interest in making economies more just, environmentally and socially responsible, and supportive of healthy and resilient wellbeing for all communities and ecosystems now and into the future. This requires a shift in approach toward economics as a means to wellbeing rather than an end in itself.
In Canada, new economies innovations include solutions from new measures of progress to market-based solutions to alternative ownership structures. The new economies field is being shaped by key Individuals, organizations, think tanks and includes networks such as the Canadian Businesses for Social Responsibility, Blue Green Canada and the Canadian Cooperatives Association.
These innovations are not only emerging to benefit from economic, social and ecological gains but also to diversify economies and minimize risk. Faced with the complexity of our current urban and global challenges, we can assess these solutions not only on how they address current problems but to build resilience and our adaptive capacity for the long-term.
Urban resilience and livability is advanced when markets are allocated within the framework of appropriate rules, policies and values. There is a critical role for policy makers to establish market conditions which support competition while ensuring living wage, a functioning democracy, equitable distribution of resources, and the internalization of ecological and social impacts.
The opportunity within Cities for People is to connect, create, and support these new economies innovations, to scale nationally promising solutions and to foster the systems and policy context for people, prosperity and the planet.
Photo credit: Daniel Rotman 2014