Posts

By Anna Haw and Isabel Nuesse

This image which sparked memes all over the internet in the last month may compel more people to rethink our consumer-driven habits and current state of our economy….or so we hope.

As consumers, we rarely give much thought to how the multitude of things we buy make their way across the planet and into our homes. That is, until the Ever Given (400m long packed with up to 18,000 containers) stopped $9.6 billion dollars’ worth of products each day that it was stalled in the Suez Canal. That’s $6.7 million a minute.  This debacle reveals the true scale of our global supply chains, and broader global economic system.

How is it that one ship can have such an impact? That so many goods depend on a single waterway, and that 6 days of disruption can amount to over $50 billion in losses? 

With so much money being lost, resources were swiftly mobilised to solve the frantic halt of the Suez Canal. It’s remarkable really, that our dependence on this consumer culture and our need to keep trading goods catalysed a global upheaval. 

The focus on incessant GDP growth has necessitated a relentless drive to create and trade goods, no matter the cost to the environment or human wellbeing. 

This shipping fiasco serves as a clear metaphor of our current economic system. We have an economy that lacks resilience, makes little practical sense and is so heavy that changing direction is almost impossible, despite obvious imminent danger. 

The comparatively tiny tug boats and bulldozers working together to dislodge the massive ship are akin to the many initiatives that are working to dislodge the current economic system. What’s needed to uproot the current economic system is a rising tide to provide much-needed support and create an enabling environment to the many profoundly positive new economic initiatives that are desperately trying to change the course of our damaging economy. 

We can create this rising tide.

It will take incredible mobilisation, bold action, risk and ultimately embracing long-term goals. 

There was support and media attention at all angles covering the crisis of Ever Given. Yet our current economic framework is a part and parcel of causing these crises. Rather than applying a band-aid at vast expense, or incessantly reporting on how many billions of dollars are being lost, let’s focus on the root of the problem. Are we throwing resources at a framework that is too centralised, single-minded and outdated?

What if a potentially catastrophic  global trade event can be viewed instead as an opportunity to give our  system a re-think? Do we need to keep purchasing goods at the current rate that we are? Can consumers buy less, share more and redistribute our wealth to support initiatives working towards achieving social justice on a healthy planet?  

As the Ever Given moves forward towards its destination with hundreds of other laden ships in its wake, let us not miss the opportunity to think about what our society’s priorities are, and where we’re mobilising our resources.

We do have the capacity to catalyse, dramatically shift and re-route our economic system, so what’s stopping us?

Image: Suez Canal Authority via AP

 

By Isabel Nuesse, WEAll Engagement and Content lead and member of 36×36 project team

Have you been curious about the #36×36 project? We’ve engaged an incredible cohort of womxn in a programme to design the architecture of a new economic future for the world. While inevitably a very tough ask, these womxn have dove right in. 

During an early “meet and greet” call where the womxn were getting to know each other – we asked the question, “If you were an economy tsarista, what policy would you put in place?” Below are some of the ideas that came up in our discussion. From gender parity, to binding codes of conduct for Multi-National Corporations – the visions of these womxn are vast, radical and with enough power, entirely possible.  

Gender

  • Pay adequate wages for care labor and data labor in order to reduce inequality 
  • Reinforce the mechanisms that ensure gender parity in decision making

Education

  • Invest a larger portion of money into transforming education systems to incorporate topics such as climate change and gender equality 

Financials 

  • Institute Universal Basic Income (UBI) 
  • Defund militarism and redirect funds towards other more impactful sectors such as education, health and agriculture 
  • Change our metrics of prosperity from GDP to Gross Ecosystem Product (GEP)
  • Greater transparency of financial flows to see what’s happening so countries can align actions with values – and put participatory budgeting at all levels 
  • Global debt jubilee for the Global South
  • Get rid of taxes as a whole – and find more creative ways to make up for it – i.e. using non-profit models.
  • Close down tax havens. Make sure the taxes are spent in local areas where they were created.  
  •  Write off all the loans that are owed to the World Bank 

Process/ Collaboration

  • Facilitate a global dialogue around the world to discuss and collaborate on our collective wants and needs 
  • Fewer bureaucratic processes to ensure greater efficiency when dealing with paperwork 
  • Create a structure that supports grassroots community initiatives

Production of Resources

  • Binding code of conduct for multi-national corporation (MNCs) 
  • Make prices reflect the true costs of products and services  to actually reflect the environmental and social externalities 
  • Withdraw subsidies and tax cuts from the largest transnational corporations and use that money for seed funding for not-for-profit businesses

Wellbeing 

  • Take care of wellbeing surrounding the self- and allow that to ripple out across the world. Meaning, the energy of wellbeing to transform from person to person. 
  • Make indigenous wisdom the default
  • Ask the question of what behaviours do we want to encourage?

These  ambitious ideas are some of the seeds from which the 36×36 network will grow. The womxn are now participating in learning modules, thematic exchanges and peer-led sessions to deepen their collaboration. We are so excited to be on this journey with them.

If you’d like to keep up to date with the project and be the first to hear about ways to engage further with 36×36, sign up to our newsletter below.