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Economics for Change

Nature provides human society with a vast diversity of benefits such as food, fibres, clean water, healthy soil and carbon capture and many more. Though our well-being is totally dependent upon the continued flow of these “ecosystem services”, they are predominantly public goods with no markets and no prices, so are rarely detected by our current economic compass. As a result, biodiversity is declining, our ecosystems are being continuously degraded and we, in turn, are suffering the consequences.

The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity, UNDP, 2008



This section highlights some of the radical thinking that is trying to meet the huge global challenges of a disfunctional financial system, peak everything, global climate change and obscene inequality that consigns billions to poverty.

Background reading

The Great Transition: A tale of how it turned out right New Economics Foundation, 2009
Report sets out a range of practical measures on housing, business, taxation, property and energy policy to create a new kind of economy necessary to tackle climate change and avoid the mounting social problems associated with the rise of economic inequality.

Ecological Economics CASSE, 2009
Intoduction to the principles of ecological economics – the interaction between human economic systems and natural ecosystems – which provides the theoretical basis for the steady state economy.



The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) UNDP, 2008
Report points to the growing pressures on biodiversity and ecosystem services across the world and the need for a system to value natural resources.

TEEB for Policy Makers UNDP, 2009
Outlines the challenges and opportunities for policy makers and provides concrete examples of ways to make policies work – reform of subsidies, charges for resource use or payments for ecosystem services.

Fresh Tracks in the Forest: Assessing Incipient Payments for Environmental Services Initiatives in Bolivia Center for International Forestry Research, 2005
Evaluation of the benefits of payment for 'eco-system services' for forest communities and their environment.

From the ashes of the crash: 20 first steps from new economics to rebuild a better economy New Economics Foundation, 2008
Proposals include measures both for the long-term restructuring that will support a new economy that serves a vibrant and dynamic society, not the other way around.



Future Scenarios: How communities can adapt to peak oil and climate change David Holmgren, Green Books, 2009
One of the co-originators of the permaculture concept outlines four energy descent scenarios and argues for a strategy which frees people from the dysfunction of growth economics.

The great hunger lottery: How banking speculation causes food crises WDM, 2010

Report examines the role of food commodity derivatives in destabilising and driving up food prices around the world, for example in 2007-8.

The Handbook of Sustainability Literacy Arran Stibbe ed, Green Books, 2009
Online version of the Handbook which brings together reflections from a range of sustainability educators - literary critics, permaculturalists, ecologists, artists, journalists, engineers, mathematicians and philosophers in a deep reflection on the skills people need to survive and thrive in the challenging conditions of the 21st century. Includes active learning exercises. Highly thought provoking.

The Happy Planet Index New Economics Foundation, 2009
A successful society is one that can support good lives that don’t cost the Earth. The HPI aims to measure progress towards this target – the ecological efficiency with which happy and healthy lives are supported.



If Women Counted Marilyn Waring, Harper Collins, 1989
Critique of the use of GDP in the UN System of National Accounts which "counts oil spills and wars as contributors to economic growth, while child-rearing and housekeeping are deemed valueless".

Nine Meals from Anarchy New Economics Foundation, 2008
A reflection on the vulnerability of our oil-dependent society and recommendations about how we might rebuild resilience.

No More Business as Usual War on Want, 2009
Briefing explores how the economic crisis and its human consequences are a direct result of the free market model of globalisation that has been pursued by the World Trade Organisation (WTO), World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) as well as the rich country governments that control them.

Road to Recovery: Mapping a sustainble economy Commonwealth Foundation, 2009
Advocacy paper on the imperatives of climate change and the need for economic resilience rather than the debt-fuelled, consumption-driven economic growth that is stressing planetary boundaries and not producing real wellbeing.

Transition Initiatives Primer Transition Network, 2008
Overview of pioneering initiatives for transitioning to a lower energy future and to greater levels of community resilience.

Where DId Our Money Go? Building a banking system fit for purpose New Economics Foundation, 2010
Critical overview of the post financial crisis banking system that fails to meet the needs of an economy struggling to face the new economic, social and environmental challenges we face, despite huge taxpayers' bail outs.

Zero Carbon Britain Centre for Alternative Technology, 2007
A a radical vision of Britain?s energy future, outlining bold policy drivers to reduce carbon emissions to zero within 20 years.




Canopy Capital is an innovative programme which aims to place a market value on the 'eco-services' provided by Guyana's Iwokrama rainforest reserve to humanity, eg rainfall and biodiversity, and use income from these services to fund development programmes.

Center for the Advancement of a Steady State Economy (CASSE) promotes a steady state economy, with stabilized population and consumption. Resources include slide shows and video clips.

New Economics Foundation is an independent think-and-do tank that inspires and demonstrates real economic well-being that puts people and planet first. A good archive of downloadable reports.

Share The World's Resources advocates for sustainable economics to end global poverty. The website includes in-depth resources including reports and videos on a range of issues.



Sustain: The alliance for better food and farming advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, enrich society and culture and promote equity. A rich source of information and resources.

The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB)
International initiative to draw attention to the global economic benefits of biodiversity, highlight the growing costs of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation, and draw together expertise from the fields of science, economics and policy to enable practical actions moving forward. 

Transition Network was set up to support Transition Initiatives around the world.