There has never been such a crying need for a bold vision of the future. If we fail to reverse the policies that have been driving climate change, we face disaster on a world scale. Yet since the 1980s, radical politics has lost its vision of how to create a qualitatively better society for everyone and lost the ability to inspire. In ‘A Convenient Truth’ Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett set out a path towards a society that’s better for us and the planet. Inequality drives status insecurity, which fuels the consumerism that is destroying our planet. But the things we buy aren’t making us any happier: the link between economic development and real improvements in quality of life is broken in rich societies. For real improvements in wellbeing, we need a more equal society, which is best achieved by putting democracy at the heart of the economy. Indeed, the authors see the extension of democracy into economic institutions as the next major step in the long project of human emancipation.
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Much of the writing on a post-growth world is about economics. In this exciting and ground-breaking short essay Andrew Dobson considers the implications of the end of growth for politics. Dobson, Professor of Politics at Keele University argues that if the end of growth is to be planned, rather than unplanned and catastrophic, we need now to get onto a trajectory for a benign post-growth world. And that trajectory has six crucial pre-conditions: equality, democracy, a vibrant public sphere, localisation, feminism and the idea and practice of enough.
This briefing paper presents key findings and policy recommendations from the data collected in the Wellbeing & Poverty Pathways field research undertaken in Chiawa, Zambia between 2010 and 2012. Key findings include: • Livelihoods in struggle: The people of Chiawa are struggling to survive, with traditional farming methods under threat and few secure alternative opportunities • Resource conflicts: Key concerns relate to the destruction of crops by wildlife, land alienation to outside investors, the elite capture of development interventions and local people's exclusion from decision-making. • Wellbeing: The multi-dimensional model of 'inner wellbeing' shows people in Chiawa to have low economic confidence, little sense of agency and low social trust. The research also demonstrates that local understandings of wellbeing extend into an ethic of taking care of others across time and space, and this should be seen as a model of power well used.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) commissioned researchers from the London School of Economics (LSE) to undertake analysis of Understanding Society data to develop the evidence base on the wellbeing impacts of cultural engagement and sport participation. This work gives us new evidence of the link between our policies and the social impacts of engagement in both sport and culture.
Almost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population, and seven out of ten people live in countries where economic inequality has increased in the last 30 years. The World Economic Forum has identified economic inequality as a major risk to human progress, impacting social stability within countries and threatening security on a global scale. This massive concentration of economic resources in the hands of fewer people presents a real threat to inclusive political and economic systems, and compounds other inequalities – such as those between women and men. Left unchecked, political institutions are undermined and governments overwhelmingly serve the interests of economic elites – to the detriment of ordinary people. In this paper, Oxfam shows how extreme inequality is not inevitable, with examples of policies from around the world which have reduced inequality and developed more representative politics, benefiting all, both rich and poor. Oxfam calls on leaders at the 2014 World Economic Forum at Davos to make the commitments needed to counter the growing tide of inequality.
Seismic events have convulsed global markets since 2008, when From Poverty to Power was first published. World news has been full of stories reflecting a profound sense of uncertainty about global futures. In response, this new edition of From Poverty to Power has been fully revised and now includes an in-depth analysis of the human impact of the global financial and food crises. From Poverty to Power, 2nd Edition argues that a radical redistribution of power, opportunities, and assets, rather than traditional models of charitable or government aid, is required to break the cycle of poverty and inequality. Active citizens and effective states are driving this transformation. Why active citizens? Because people living in poverty must have a voice in deciding their own destiny and holding the state and the private sector to account. Why effective states? Because history shows that no country has prospered without a state structure that can actively manage the development process. There is now an added urgency: climate change. We need to build a secure, fair, and sustainable world within the limits set by scarce resources and ecological realities. The book is accompanied by a list of blog resources. The From Poverty to Power blog played a key role in shaping the second edition of the book. Selected posts have now been indexed thematically to create an effective list of background material that can be read alongside the book.
Full Planet, empty plates (Free download of Book) PDF With food scarcity driven by falling water tables, eroding soils, and rising temperatures, control of arable land and water resources is moving to center stage in the global struggle for food security. “In this era of tightening world food supplies, the ability to grow food is fast becoming a new form of geopolitical leverage. Food is the new oil,” Lester R. Brown writes. What will the geopolitics of food look like in a new era dominated by scarcity and food nationalism? Brown outlines the political implications of land acquisitions by grain-importing countries in Africa and elsewhere as well as the world’s shrinking buffers against poor harvests. With wisdom accumulated over decades of tracking agricultural issues, Brown exposes the increasingly volatile food situation the world is facing. With food scarcity driven by falling water tables, eroding soils, and rising temperatures, control of arable land and water resources is moving to center stage in the global struggle for food security. “In this era of tightening world food supplies, the ability to grow food is fast becoming a new form of geopolitical leverage. Food is the new oil,” Lester R. Brown writes. What will the geopolitics of food look like in a new era dominated by scarcity and food nationalism? Brown outlines the political implications of land acquisitions by grain-importing countries in Africa and elsewhere as well as the world’s shrinking buffers against poor harvests. With wisdom accumulated over decades of tracking agricultural issues, Brown exposes the increasingly volatile food situation the world is facing. PRAISE FOR FULL PLANET, EMPTY PLATES Named one of the top 10 books of 2012 by The Globalist. "Full Planet, Empty Plates arrived and I straight away set aside all my other activities in order to enjoy the latest wisdom. He certainly pours out his insights with vigour—and time after time he is bang on target."–Norman Myers "Though heavily packed with statistical information and evidences compiled from the work of hundreds of scientists, this book is an approachable resource for those who are interested in understanding food scarcity, regardless of their educational background."–Maira Niode, Omar Niode Foundation "Each subject is covered in enough detail and with enough supporting evidence to be clear, concise, and convincing. It is the clarity of argument and the brevity that makes this such a valuable book."–John Coulter, Sutainable Population Australia "As with all of Brown’s books, Full Planet, Empty Plates is very well-documented: over 150 data sets accompany the book. Brown fully explains the extent of food challenges in various regions of the globe, and the potential impacts based on environmental and socioeconomic factors in these regions."–Jeff McIntire-Strasburg, Sustainablog "This is a great little book that sums up the global situation, and ties it all together. Best explanation of how everything is interconnected. I wish every American would read this book!!!"–Diane Stewart, environmental activist "Brown presents his compelling arguments in straightforward language, buttressed with numerous facts, statistics and graphs."–Joseph Chamie, former director of the United Nations Population Division One of the top eco-books for the new year according to The Green Insider.
In November 2010, the Prime Minister asked the Office for National Statistics to initiate a debate on national well-being and to start to measure it. If this is done well, the result will make a real difference to people’s lives. This report by nef (the new economics foundation) looks at what is needed for this type of measurement. A successful society is one in which people have high levels of well-being which is sustained over time. Accordingly, progress can be measured in terms of three key ‘spheres’: 1. Goals: universally high levels of well-being. 2. Resources: sustainable use of environmental resources. 3. Human systems: activities that achieve intermediate objectives such as a stable and productive economy, a cohesive society, good housing, and so on.
WWF strives for a world in which everyone has a high level of well-being, and we can enjoy healthy and happy lives while using only our fair share of our planet’s resources. WWF defines well-being in accordance with the UN Millennium Ecosystem Approach. Human well-being depends on a number of factors: basic material needs, freedom to engage in meaningful activity, freedom of choice, health, good social relationships and safety. The eradication of poverty is also essential to the objectives of environmental preservation. Improving quality of life and well-being is a way to put a stop to the dwindling of natural resources. Human well-being and the well-being of the environment are closely interdependent. The diversity of nature forms ecosystems that offer ecosystem services. These include nutrient cycling, soil formation, climate regulation and the production of natural resources such as food, potable water and raw materials.Ecosystem services also comprise cultural services such as beauty, spirituality and free time. Together they make life on our planet possible.